But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Jesus began his model prayer by addressing God as our Father in Heaven. What makes heaven "heaven"? To me, it is the very presence of God that makes heaven what it is. Yet, so often in prayer, I want to dive into the troubles of my day, confessions of sin, and the petitions of my heart before actually focusing on God, Himself! I am so grateful that Jesus reminds us to begin our prayers first by lifting up our eyes to God's throne. We begin best in prayer by praising God's holiness and love.
It helps me in prayer to remember that God has a heavenly point of view. He sees the beginning and the end and the whole big picture in between. His holiness, wisdom, love, and power are Infinite. While the Lord does want us to bring everything to him in prayer (Phil.4:4-8), He also teaches us to express praise and thanksgiving. If I praise the Lord for who He is, it helps my own heart. Then, everything else that I bring before God falls into place.
Not only that, but addressing God and who He is and upon the fact that he reigns from heaven keeps our prayers from becoming a check-list of requests. Expressing our reverence and love for God at the beginning of our prayers honors him. It also helps our hearts, for it impresses upon us God's greatness and our humble dependence upon Him. It reminds us that the purpose of prayer is relationship with the Lord. It invites us into deeper intimacy with the One who created us and knows our needs before we even ask.
In one sense, the kingdom of heaven has already come to those who are Christians. Philippians 3:20 tells us that Christians already posses citizenship in heaven. Colossians 1:13 tells us, "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." If we have truly become Christians, we are subjects of God's kingdom now and no longer are citizens of the kingdom of this world. The kingdom of heaven is in our hearts, and we are in the kingdom of heaven. God's Spirit dwells within us.
Yet, in another sense, we do not yet possess the kingdom of heaven in all of its fullness. We are somewhat like citizens of a country who live abroad from our native land. We enjoy where we are now, and we serve and love the people around us. Yet, we look forward to going home. We eagerly wait for the time when Jesus will come back and take us to be with Him forever.
In John 14:1-2, Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." I John 3:2-3 tells us, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."
Understanding that we will live in heaven and that we will see the face of our Lord and Savior, should give peace to all who are truly disciples of Jesus. The journey of life is easier if you are assured of your destination. It's also nicer when you look forward to a welcome from the One whom you love best, as well as those who have gone home before you.