The first request in the Lord’s prayer is a call to war. In order for the Kingdom of God to come, your kingdom must go. Surrender or defeat, these are our options. This is the kind of defeat that Christians are called to pray for. The kind that brings about the triumph of mercy.
It’s mercy because, rather than condemn us for the rebellious kingdoms we have established, God has chosen to save us and bring us into the family of an everlasting kingdom.
We want this kingdom to come and so we find ourselves engaged in a battle to see heavenly mercy hit the ground. It’s a battle that takes place for us daily as we get on our knees and pray to our Father in Heaven to deliver us from evil.
We are asking for bread. Which is to say, we are asking Him to supply everything we need to continue believing and trusting in Him.
And we pray for mercy so that we will have mercy to give. And so Jesus teaches us to pray,
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. (Matthew 6:12)
This is the heart of the Lords Prayer and sits right in the middle of it.
The prayer to deliver us from evil is a prayer that says, “Don’t let us have our way. Don’t leave us to the sin that crouches at our door. Deliver us! Don’t let us fall for a lie.”
Despite our sinful inclinations, His is the kingdom we want to be in. His is the kingdom, the power and the glory, which is to say, “We are asking You for all these things because You’re the only one with the capacity to pull this thing off.”
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So, we are engaged in a battle. It’s a battle to see mercy triumph over judgement in our lives. What then, does the battleground look like?
It looks a lot like a prayer closet. In prayer, away from all watching eyes but God’s, we are at war against the “uns” of this world. We are at war against everything within us that is ungrateful, unloving, unforgiving and unholy.
What does the battleground look like? It looks like getting up off my knees and bringing that mercy to bear in the lives of others.
The battle for mercy is not won by playing down other people’s sin but through a gracious, undeserved response to sin. It is sin that separates people, not personality clashes. Sin is our enemy, not other people. And so, we are to do battle with sin. We battle on our knees, and then we get on our feet and do battle in the streets in order to see mercy triumph.
And this is why mercy is so central to the Lord’s prayer and why it’s repeated three times in these few, short verses (Matthew 6:12, 14, 15).
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement. (James 2:13)
When it comes to the sins of others, we are not looking for apologies. We are looking for an opportunity to show mercy. We are looking for the grace of God to hit the mercy switch for the trespass committed against us.
Why? Because that is what our Saviour has done for us. He has taken responsibility. He has taken the initiative. And in this call to pray, He commands us to pray that we might do the same for others. This is what it means to be a vessel of mercy. You and I were created to be poured out for the sake of others.
When the world sins, we turn up with mercy. When your brother sins, you turn up with mercy.
If the fog of sin and despair is ever going to lift around here it will be through prayer as a battlefield and cross-carrying mercy. It will be this way because that is the way God has always dealt with sin.