DISCLAIMER: I am not a scholar, nor the son of a scholar. Neither am I looking to ignite a firestorm of controversy because I don’t enjoy conflict! But these thoughts are weighing heavily on my mind…
When we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come’ from Jesus’ pattern of prayer recorded in the Gospels, what are we really praying for? Too many of us (at times myself included) seem to be praying for a return to a more righteous America. I wonder if what we are praying for really ever existed?
North America was settled by people who believed the Bible. That is unmistakable. However, there were significant differences between groups of settlers over exactly what the Bible said. Most groups that settled were aggressive about eliminating the ‘threat’ of the Native Americans. Many of those who settled were comfortable with the concept of owning slaves imported from Africa. Some who settled here were longing for a place for Catholicism to flourish (see for example the state of Maryland). Others were seeking to build communities of religious freedom (Rhode Island, for example).
Many of the pray-ers that I hear though seem to be praying for God’s kingdom to come in some sort of America were Protestant Christianity was a dominant factor (perhaps an era such as the 1950’s). But did America at any point during her history truly reflect the foundational principles of the Kingdom of God?
Struggling with this issue, particularly during this political season, is hard work. Truly seeking God’s Kingdom to come and be made real in our day will require a willingness to let go our own visions of what the kingdom might look like and seek to ground our vision in the unalterable and inerrant Word of God. May I and those I pray with truly learn to pray according to this truth.