“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.'” — Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)
When Starship Captain Jean-Luc Picard gives an order, he often uses the phrase “Make is so.” This phrase seems to have been in use long ago by ship captains in the British Navy.
The captain is found at leisure. “Twelve o’clock, sir,” the messenger exclaims, and indicates briefly the latitude of the vessel, and the ship’s course and speed. [T]he captain signify[s] that he is satisfied and reply[ies], “Thank you, make it so!'”How Our Navy is Run — A description of life in the King’s fleet, 1902
When Jesus’ disciples asked to be taught how to pray, he began by saying that they should ask for God’s kingdom to come on earth and to ask that his will is done on earth “as it is in heaven.” Both of these requests are ways of recognizing God’s authority and our position of subservience to his authority.
God’s kingdom will certainly come when God ordains it. I’m referring here to the return of Jesus and the establishment of his rule over earth, an event promised in the New Testament and by Jesus himself. I don’t believe God is waiting for the people of earth to agree that it’s time for God to step in. It will happen, as Jesus put it, when we least expect it, and at a time only God knows.
So, when I pray “your kingdom come,” I’m making a personal commitment to the rule of God in my life. It’s a sort of Christian pledge of allegiance. I am at your service, Lord. Make it so.
To pray that God’s will is done on earth is a different kind of prayer, because it assumes human freedom and our ability to make moral choices for good or for ill. God does not force his will on us. Rather, God invites us to choose to follow him. He has given us a messenger from himself and a witness to himself in Jesus Christ. We choose whether to take Jesus seriously or not.
Jesus waits for our invitation.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. — Revelation 3:20 (NIV)
“Your will be done” is our own affirmation to God that we wish to “make it so.” The ship commander gives his order, but the seaman must assent, and does so with a nod and by taking actions that will put the commander’s desires into practice. If the commander’s order is ignored, you have a mutiny, which comes from an ancient word meaning rebellion.
If we want to be disciples of Jesus, we begin our prayers with two affirmations of our loyalty. We recognize our participation in God’s kingdom, and we affirm our loyalty to him as our heavenly Commander. And because we know ourselves to be fickle, we reaffirm these oaths of loyalty each time we pray by looking heavenward and saying, make it so.
Image credit: CBS