Making God’s kingdom a reality today

Making God’s kingdom a reality today

In this series we have been exploring the depth of meaning in the John Main prayer which we say before meditation. We have examined each of the key phrases in the prayer and now I want to reflect on its overall meaning and how it mirrors the prayer variously known as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or the ‘Our Father’.

Meditation changes our way of seeing and therefore our way of being in the world; it makes us appreciate the importance of rooting our doing in our being, so that the quality of our doing is informed by the quality of our being. As we discover who we really are in the depths of our being, and deepen our relationship with God as the ground of all being – as we begin to see everything through that lens, the quality of our seeing changes and deepens. And we can more easily figure out how each unique situation calls for us to respond.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name’ just as the John Main prayer begins Heavenly Father. The Lord’s prayer continues: ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’

It is good that the prayer contains that phrase ‘Thy kingdom come’ because the core of Jesus’ teaching was about the kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of God and how we can access it here and now. Unfortunately, for many centuries, the Christian tradition has misunderstood those words as pointing to the need for personal salvation, the need to secure a place in the heaven in the next life by doing what we are told.

But when Jesus uses the expression the ‘the kingdom of God’ he is not talking about the next life but this one, about here and now, the eternal now if you like. He is telling us that there is a way that we can live connected to God and one another in this world, wherever we live, today, right now. The prayer says ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’. Not, my will be done, but your will be done; God’s will not ours. In other words, we are called to be willing, not wilful. As Richard Rohr notes: “To pray and actually mean ‘Thy Kingdom come’, we must also be able to say ‘my kingdoms go.’”

When we meditate, the repetition of our mantra and the letting go of thought are a symbol of all that we are called to let go in our daily lives as our small but personal contribution to making God’s kingdom a reality in the world today.

But how do we learn to distinguish between the desire of the ego and the will of God? This is where meditation comes in, as do all forms of prayer. But meditation especially because it lets go of thought, the primary gateway of the desires and demands of the ego. In meditation, we move from the head to the heart, we move from a mode of doing to a mode of being. And it is in that mode of being that we discover who we truly are in the depths of our being – we discover the seed of an intimate relationship that was planted when we were born. And we learn that the daily practice of meditation enables that seed to take root in our hearts and our relationship with God to grow. Every time you meditate, you choose love. And every time you choose love – in prayer or in actual connection with another person – every time you choose love, you connect with the divine at a level of experience deeper than you can comprehend.

As we grow in meditation, we learn to live in the present moment, aware of the love that always surrounds us. And we learn to tolerate and accept our limitations and imperfections because we come to know we are loved for who we are, not for how we are in any given moment. We learn that God does forgive us our trespasses, our failings and we learn to forgive those who trespass against us. We don’t have to be perfect to be loved, we have always been and will always be loved. And we are called to appreciate this truth and to try to live life from that perspective; to live out our lives alert to the present moment, responding with a radical yes to what it asks of us.

Meditation acts as a portal, a gateway, to the universal; it makes us keenly aware of our unity. It moves us beyond a sense of an individual relationship with Christ to an understanding that we are all called to be one with Christ and hence with one another. The Lord’s prayer does not contain the words ‘I’ or ‘me’ or ‘mine’ but the words ‘our’ and ‘us’ appear many times.

Every time we sit in meditation, as we allow ourselves to be present to reality – in all of its ordinariness and extraordinariness – we leave ourselves open and vulnerable to a graced encounter with love that has the capacity to transform us so that we can play our part in building the kingdom of God where we live, today. I invite you now to spend some time in the stillness and silence of meditation where you can begin to experience that truth for yourself.