War. Oppression. Typhoons. HIV/ AIDS. Malaria. Cancer. Poverty. Death. Where is the good news in the midst of all this suffering?
There is an ancient prayer from the first century. It was used then and by people ever since. ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
It completely turns on its head a common understanding: when things go wrong people blame God. When suffering occurs people often think it is God’s will. But this prayer kills that idea. It says God’s will is often NOT being done! It’s a mess and God is not happy with it. Bad stuff happens – really bad stuff.
The prayer was taught by Jesus when his followers asked him how to pray. It became known as the Lord’s Prayer. He included this controversial phrase to encourage us to ask for something better on earth; something from heaven, which would make earth a better place. We can ask that the mess here would change; that God’s will really would be done.
This kind of praying puts us into a conflict. Jesus mentions circumstances and influences that test us and that are evil. He says there is an ‘evil one’. Instead of laying the blame for bad stuff at God’s door we should put blame where it really belongs.
Mankind has also messed things up and at times we do appalling things that bring suffering to others. Our prayer can be part of the process of bringing change.