We pray for God to reign on earth as he does in heaven because Christians long to live in the world as God originally intended it to be, as in the Garden of Eden.
The Garden of Eden was a place we know God visited. It was a gateway between heaven and earth, but the link was broken when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
Jesus re-established the gateway between heaven and earth when he died on the cross.
Heaven is a perfect place in another dimension, and I believe that dimension is not far away and can be quite close by and all around us even.
So, we pray for the perfection of earth and all creation because we know that when this happens, heaven will have fully returned to earth in the name of Jesus Christ.
We still have a long way to go because there is still much wickedness in the world today.
In the meantime, as Christians, our vocations are to shine his light into the world's darkness to allow people to see that there is a way to connect with our Savior here on earth.
The way God intended for all humankind from the beginning of time, and we can see and learn these ways through the person of Jesus Christ.
The Significance of the Lord's Prayer
Tertullian, an early Christian author from the Roman province of Africa, claimed that the Lord's prayer was the most concise summary of Christ's teachings.
Others bring attention to the Jewish influence in the prayer, which is hardly surprising as Jesus and all his disciples had been devout Jews.
There are two references to the Lord's Prayer in the Bible. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount, and in the Gospel of Luke, which is in a slightly shorter format.
Most people today pray the Matthew version, and as Tertullian observed, it is almost like a condensed version of the gospel. I know there have been times in my life when I have not known what to do, and I have simply prayed the Lord's prayer.
We pray for God's Kingdom to reign on earth as it does in heaven, but I will go into that further in this article after unpacking the Lord's Prayer.
How Can We Pray the Lord's Prayer?
In this prayer, Jesus gives us a clear structure for prayer.
1. We offer all glory and honor to God. We then pray for the world, our communities, and our lives to be shaped by His will.
“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
2. We pray for the things we need for that day.
“Give us today our daily bread.”
3. Then, for forgiveness for the errors of our way, the character to forgive others their errors, for strength to resist temptation, and for protection from danger.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
4. We conclude by giving all praise to God.
“For the Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.”
What Does it Mean ‘On Earth as it Is in Heaven’?
Heaven is where God is.
God enjoyed visiting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden on earth, but after the snake beguiled them and they disobeyed God, humanity and earth were cut off from God's presence. Meaning heaven and earth were no longer linked together.
But God gave the patriarch Jacob a dream in which he saw angels descending and ascending on a stairway to heaven. This was a sign that God was still nearby and that he would reintroduce the link between heaven and earth.
The people of the Jewish faith came closer to heaven because they held the presence of God in the tabernacle they carried before them in the wilderness.
Then, when the tabernacle was placed in the Holy of Holies in the temple, this was God's resting place on earth for a while.
But when Jesus died on the cross, God's plans were fulfilled in him, and he became the ladder between heaven and earth that Jacob had dreamed of.
Jesus somehow made right all that was wrong in the world, and heaven and earth were reconnected.
Earth is where we mere mortals live, but the scriptures tell us that God is not far from us. God lives in another dimension or sphere, but I believe that dimension is all around us, and as we live according to the teachings of Jesus, we can bring heaven and earth closer together.
When Will Heaven and Earth Become One Again?
In Matthew 24, the chapter vividly describes the Great Tribulation, which will occur before heaven and earth are reunited with Jesus returning to earth, from heaven, in clouds of glory.
Jesus speaks of the signs of the End Times and the destruction of the Jewish Temple. He said not one of the temple's stones would remain intact, and the whole thing would be reduced to rubble.
The disciples asked Jesus, "When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" (v. 3).
Jesus warns them about things that will happen before the end of the age.
- Some would claim to be Christ.
- There would be wars and rumors of wars; Nation will rise against nation.
- Earthquakes; Famines.
- Pestilence and Fearful events.
Next, Jesus described birth pangs (as he called them), which would lead to the coming Kingdom:
- Persecution of Christians.
- False prophets.
- Growth of wickedness.
But also, the gospel will be taught all around the world during this time.
Jesus said these days will be truly terrible for all who experience them, and whilst the time of this tribulation is unknown to anyone on earth, when we see signs of the things listed above beginning to happen, we can be confident that the time of tribulation is near at hand.
Jesus said that immediately after the tribulation, people would see a sign, “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (v. 29).
After this sign of the sun and the moon, Jesus will appear accompanied by angels, and at the trumpet call, the angels will "gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (v. 31).
How Does This Apply to Us Today?
After these things have happened, as described in Matthew 24, it will be on earth as it is in heaven, just as Christians down the generations have hoped for, believed in, and relentlessly prayed for.
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Mary Rathbone lives with great hope in Jesus and is always delighted to share her hope with others; you can explore her personal expressions of faith at www.hopeinjesus.co.uk. She studied Theology, Mission, and Ministry with the Church of England's Diocese of St Albans (ERMC) and the University of Durham; and was licensed, by the Bishop, as a Reader (Lay Minister) in July 2019.