PRAYING THE BEATITUDES, PART 2
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
The last thing on earth we want is to be poor. Admit it. Every billboard’s message screams our right to wealth, self-indulgence, security and ease. While we may have tempered that notion with moderation, few of us would admit poverty is on our ‘bucket list’.
So, what is this ‘poor in spirit’ concept all about? I don’t believe it’s talking about asceticism here; this goes much deeper than the pocketbook. But we may learn something from the billboards that is relevant: the basis for this world’s quest for self-indulgence is that cunning vice each one of us harbours deep inside. Pride. Proverbs 6 places it at the top of the list of “six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him”. It used to be known as one of the ‘seven deadly sins’. Pride is the primary mindset that separates us from God; it causes us to imagine ourselves as gods, uncaused causes, having the right to rule ourselves.
But the kingdom of heaven is where reality reigns. God is sovereign, glorious, and enjoyed by all who are granted life in the kingdom. If we wish to be part of this kingdom, we must submit to God. We must humble ourselves before Him, accept His authority over us and worship Him. Humbling ourselves before Him, here on earth, means, humbling ourselves before His commands. It means obeying His Word. It means earnest application of His revealed ways. Jesus puts this maxim at the top of the list of eight for a reason. He will go on to spell out applications of this humble mindset throughout His Sermon on the Mount, so He wants to make sure we have grasped this apogee of fitness for heavenly existence. It is the sine qua non of living in God’s kingdom.
In Part 1, we suggested the idea of praying the Beatitudes. How interesting that Jesus’ ‘how-to’ example of prayer later in His sermon (see Matthew 6:9) begins with an expression of spiritual humility: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To pray is to admit the sovereignty of God, to hallow His name, to yearn for His will to be done here on earth. The kingdom of heaven is where His will is done.
Today, let’s pray for poverty of spirit, as counter-cultural as that may be. Let’s pray, “your will to be done here in my life as it is in heaven”. This is what it is to be blessed. This is about getting ready for kingdom living.