I’ve always imagined when I’m praying that my spirit is transferred up to the throne room of God in that moment. That while my body is kneeling beside my bed or driving in my car, my spirit is raptured into the holy of holies, into the presence of God…who is there, but not necessarily here.
For several years now, however, I’ve been increasingly convinced that the biblical idea of “Kingdom of Heaven” is a very this worldly reality. That the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus in this world means that the Kingdom of Heaven is not elsewhere, but present and active here.
It’s funny how paradigm shifts tend to take a while to apply.
The implications of the hereness of the Kingdom of Heaven immediately convinced me that a place called Heaven is not the ultimate goal of the Christian life. But up until recently my imagination in prayer still took me up to a remote, distant, heavenly throne room.
Reading this morning in the Sermon on the Mount (Jesus’ most explicit delineation of the Kingdom of Heaven!), I saw the error of my praying ways. Jesus prays for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The implication here is that prayer, like church gatherings, aren’t mini Christian vacations into heaven. They are not temporary forays into the next life or another world. Prayer, like church gatherings, are a full engagement with this world. Prayer takes place within and for this world. It does not long for a time to escape, it is an expression of a soul already fully engage in God’s redemptive purposes for this world. I love how Eugene Peterson says it, “Prayer is not an escape from what is going on around us. It is gutsy participation in every earthly detail.”
If heaven is God’s throne, then earth is his footstool. And I can pray at His footstool because that’s where God’s feet touch our ground.