In Psalm 17, David prays that God will “bend down and listen.” He IS listening! And he welcomes our prayers!
1 Samuel, chapter 22; Psalms 17 & 35; Matthew, chapter 6
I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask him! Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
The combination of these verses caught my attention today. First, David prays, “I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.” Faith motivates his prayer – he knows that God will answer. The image he uses – Bend down and listen – almost sounds childlike. Does God really need to “bend down and listen” when we pray? No – but David’s request reflects the closeness of his relationship with God.
The second passage, of course, is the “Lord’s Prayer.” I was particularly drawn to the first part of verse 10: May your Kingdom come soon. For those of us who grew up with this prayer in King James language (Thy Kingdom come), the addition of the word soon may be unfamiliar. What does it mean for us to pray that God’s Kingdom would come soon?
Jesus came to proclaim that God’s Kingdom was here. He announced that God’s Kingdom was breaking into this world with his coming. But we can all look around and realize that the Kingdom is not fully here yet. We are living in the “in-between” time; or, as the theologians put it, in the “already but not yet” stage of the Kingdom. His Kingdom has come in the lives of all who have put their faith in Christ, but we wait for the day when we will experience the fullness of the Kingdom.
The next phrase of the Lord’s prayer sets our “marching orders” for the Kingdom: May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In his reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, C.S. Lewis pointed out that this part of the prayer implies our commitment to join in God’s work. If we pray that God’s will be done, we are necessarily committing that we will do God’s will in our lives. It is frankly unacceptable to pray that God’s will be done in the abstract if we won’t do what God’s will is for us in the concrete situations of everyday life.
Psalm 17 gives us the proper attitude of prayer: I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. We come to God in faith, trusting that he will hear us and answer. Of course, we understand that “answering” does not always mean “doing what we ask for.” But as we read David’s request that God would bend down and listen, we’re reminded that God islistening. He will answer, in the way that is best.
The Lord’s Prayer gives us the basic framework for our prayers. Today, God is drawing my attention to the Kingdom aspect of the prayer. May your Kingdom come soon. There are so many different aspects to that prayer! I suppose most people probably interpret that to mean, “May your Kingdom come in its full and final form soon.” We look forward to that day! But we also remember Peter’s assurance that God is patient, not wanting any to perish. All of us know people who are not ready for that day, so we are grateful for God’s patience and his mercy.
But as we pray that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, we need to remember our part in that. Each day, God has a plan for each of us. We have opportunities to obey and walk in his way – or not. As we pray, May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, God reminds us to do his will as we understand it. The tasks that God has for me today will be different than those he has for someone else. I’m not called to do God’s will for them; they’re not responsible to do God’s will for me.
As each of us does our part, each day, we will see God’s Kingdom come in ever greater measure. We will see God’s Kingdom expand in our own lives. God will work in the lives of others, in part through our obedience. Each of us will be formed more and more in the image of Jesus. And some day, God’s Kingdom will come in its fullness!
Father, thank you for reminding us that you do hear us when we pray. The image of you bending down to listen comforts us, because it reminds us that you are listening. The thought of you “bending down to listen” tells us that you are giving us your attention as we pray – and you answer us. Help us to recognize your answer, and to understand how your answers fit into your plan for us.
May your Kingdom come soon. As we pray that today, help us to recognize how your Kingdom is expanding in our own lives. Show us how we can do your will, and experience your Kingdom more and more. Thank you for the promise that you will be faithful to carry on the good work that you have started in us. Help us to understand what you want us to do today to further your work in us. Amen.
Written by: OchriO