On a huddle call a few weeks ago we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer, talking about how to use it as a tool to help those we lead connect with God in more substantial ways. One person asked an interesting question:
“Why isn’t thanksgiving a part of the Lord’s Prayer?”
Scripture seems to present thanksgiving as a fundamental pattern of interaction with God, so why doesn’t Jesus teach his disciples to pray their thanksgivings? It’s a fascinating question.
But here’s what I wonder: perhaps thanksgiving is more accurately described as an act of worship rather than prayer. The Psalms are drenched in thanksgiving, and they form the basic Scriptural pattern of worship. So there’s worship and there’s prayer.
Which got me thinking about how worship and prayer can perhaps be framed in terms of Covenant and Kingdom (our fundamental theological understanding of the Scriptures). Worship seems to be connected to our covenant relationship with God: We praise, thank, and adore him because of how he has drawn us into relationship with himself. Prayer seems to be connected to our responsibility to represent God as agents of his kingdom: prayer is how we partner with God to see his will done on earth as it is in heaven. Prayer is how God shares his power with us so we can be co-regents with him in exercising his authority.
So if worship is about revelation and response, the revelation is Covenant and Kingdom, and the response is worship and prayer. God reveals his love for us and his acts of salvation that have reconciled us to him, and we respond in worship: thanking him, adoring him, praising him. God reveals his kingdom purposes for us and the good plans he has for his world, and we respond in prayer: partnering with him in the renewal of all things by agreeing with him in prayer.
God invites us to express covenant relationship and kingdom responsibility, and we do so by worship and prayer. Worship in response to covenant, prayer in response to kingdom. Just a little thought for the week.