Book review: Ultimate Allegiance
by Robert D. Cornwall
This little 60-page booklet breaks down the Lord’s Prayer, providing a line-by-line explanation. The provocative subtitle is The Subversive Nature of the Lord’s Prayer, planting images in my mind of a prayer that drives me trembling to my knees, but that isn’t quite the way Robert means it. The preface explains, “Prayer that is subversive is prayer that engages ‘the powers that be.’”
Christians have for a couple thousand years recited this prayer—the Didache advises believers to pray these words at least three times each day—but do we recognize it as a pledge of action on our part, a statement of ultimate allegiance to God’s purpose of establishing a kingdom on earth? The following observation by Robert is critical, particularly with the Lord’s Prayer:
While prayer has a vertical dimension, uniting human beings with the divine, it also has a horizontal dimension. As with the two great commandments, our prayers link us to God and to neighbor.
In this light, the Lord’s Prayer affirms our personal role in inaugurating the Kingdom of Heaven, under God’s guidance. “Thy kingdom come,” we beg, and in so doing, we are accepting an active role alongside our brethren. If we choose to participate in God’s reign, we’re committing ourselves to do God’s will on earth as in heaven, and therefore engaging in the mission of God.