The Kingdom Bowl…

Ben Schoettel   -  


This past week a new national champion was crowned in division I college football (go wolverines, anyone?) There are 133 division I football programs that start their year off with the same dream. Winning it all. The problem? It usually only takes one loss in a 12-week season to send those dreams crashing down to reality. But wait! Even if you do not play in the coveted national championship bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, or Cotton), rest assured, there are 42 other bowl games that you can contend for to bring back something for the school trophy case. (My new personal favorite is the Mayo Bowl where the winning coach literally gets a bucket of mayonnaise dumped on his head… I would drive my team to the wrong stadium and forfeit…)

What does this have to do with prayer? Expectations. Every coach might try to convince these 20-year-olds that they are going to win out and hold up that trophy as the last one standing, but the reality is that there can only be one winner, which means there is a pretty significant list of… well… losers.

I think we often fall into this trap with prayer. We see verses that tell us that our faith can move mountains and make miracles happen (I don’t deny those verses) and we often receive those instructions with one key missing understanding. The Bible is not written to you. I mean… of course the Bible is written to “you” but what I mean is that the Bible is written to all of humanity too. It is always to be read and heard in the plural. So, when we take verses about how to bring our petitions to God, it is easy to make the mistake of asking for the Super Bowl for ourselves, while forgetting the equity of our identity as God’s beloved creation with everyone else.

Does this mean that we don’t pray for specific acts of God in our lives? Of course not. We are encouraged to bring all of our cares and desires to God (and God hears and gives grace even if we don’t always get it right.) But when we look to God, as we will later see in our unpacking of the Lord’s Prayer, our connection has to start with God. God is not sitting there wondering when we are going to give God the instructions that God needs to figure out what is best for you. We are the imperfect people seeking the power and presence of God. The purpose of prayer is intimacy with God, with a faithfulness (belief, trust, obedience) that God’s will is always goodness (tender-loving mercy) for us all. That need for goodness might look different for each of us in each season of life, but the only provisions we can receive from God is God’s will which is goodness/love. But God is not in the business of stealing from Peter to give to Paul. So, God is not going to give you extra goodness or love at the expense of someone else.

So, seek. Ask. Be consistent and persistent. But remember one of the most important prayer of Jesus, the One who gave everything so that God’s love/goodness can be continually and eternally growing and spreading… “not my will, but Thine be done.” This prayer does not limit God’s power or presence in our lives, it fully recognizes it. In Kingdom rankings, we all have access to the same glory, the glory of God.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debters. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”