On May 28, I’m turning forty, and I’d love to ask you for a gift as I enter into this new decade. Would you pray for me to experience a fresh intimacy with God’s presence and the heart of Jesus? That’s my desire, and your prayer would mean so much to me.
I want to thank you for joining me in rediscovering the Lord’s Prayer in 2023. I believe Jesus’s prayer distills the essence of his spirituality and offers us an integrated, energizing practice for our flourishing still today. This is a prayer that welcomes everyone and that leads us to the heart of our humanity in God’s presence. We can pray it in a few seconds but plumb its depths for an entire lifetime.
Over the last few months, I’ve been delighted to share seven excerpts from my book Flourishing on the Edge of Faith that dive into each of the seven lines in Jesus’s prayer. Today I’m happy to share the conclusion to the book. This final section sums up what I see as the heart of Jesus’s prayer and why practicing it matters today.
Thank you for praying with me and for me!
May we flourish together,
Conclusion: A Billion Revolutions
“The energy that was buried with the rise of the Christian nations must come back into the world… Many of us, I think, both long to see this happen and are terrified of it, for though this transformation contains the hope of liberation, it also imposes a necessity for great change.” – James Baldwin
Jesus was beautiful and radical – a massacre survivor, a friend of sinners, and the embodiment of flourishing even through execution. Overcoming extraordinary pain and loss, Jesus’s prayerful life launched the most successful revolution in history.
And it can continue with us today.
In the prayer Jesus crafted, he addresses our most crucial questions and invites us to practice a spirituality that reimagines God and human flourishing. Two thousand years in, we’re only beginning to understand its profound implications and who we can become together when we pay attention and pray with Jesus.
Like him, we are acutely familiar with pain, trauma, and anxiety. Our world aches with ecological crisis, increasing poverty, religious extremism, debilitating mental distress, and escalating conflict. New technology and explosive enmity threaten to unleash wars with unprecedented magnitudes of devastation. As individuals and societies, we continue to wrestle with those ancient-yet-existential questions of who we are, how to belong, and whether we have hope.
There is much at stake – for ourselves and our planet, now and for our future. As Curt Thompson reminds us, “Ultimately, we become what we pay attention to… Practice tends to make permanent.”
What questions will claim our attention, and which answers will we embody with our lives?
Will we succumb to the false comfort of our entrenched habits and deadly addictions?
Or will we courageously choose to practice flourishing through our distress and the suffering of our world?
Wherever you are on the edge of faith, I invite you to pray with Jesus every day and to participate in a multi-billion-person movement that practices flourishing like this:
This is Jesus’s invitation to all of us. This is his entire spirituality, carved in the beautiful grain of his own prayerful life.
When we practice these seven movements, flourishing is what happens in us and through us – as the unique persons that we are, in our relationships with others, spanning our diverse callings and cultures across our interconnected planet. When we miss any of them, we atrophy an essential element of our humanity.
Of course, none of us will do this exactly the same way or get it perfectly right. The goal isn’t imperial uniformity but expansive togetherness. Practicing this prayer with our lives will require us to face our distress and disrupt addictive habits, both as individuals and cultures.
But with patience, courage, and imperfection, our lives and world would undoubtedly flower like never before. Each of our decisions to practice with Jesus would amount to a personal revolution, rooted in our local lives but rippling out into the world toward larger transformation.
We dream of this in our most beloved stories, and we witness it in the people who inspire us. In this book, we’ve met Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Germany, David Hartsough in America, Hildegard Goss-Mayr in Poland, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Dr. Denis Mukwege in Congo, and momma Itash and brother Eyob in Ethiopia. This flourishing is for all of us everywhere.
Today, around two and a half billion Christians claim to follow Jesus as the personal embodiment of God. Around two billion Muslims and Jews recognize Jesus as a holy prophet of God. Countless others are inspired by Jesus as a trusted spiritual guide. Together, these diverse people represent over one out of every two humans on planet Earth today.
I dream of even a small minority of these diverse people invisibly banding together every day to practice Jesus’s prayer for our shared flourishing.
Human dignity would buoyantly rise up, and othering would begin to heal.
Creative imagination would be fueled, and our competitive conflicts would find sustainable solutions.
Our neighbors in pain would be reprioritized, and we would learn to say to one another, “Seeing your face is like seeing the face of God” – every person, a Peniel.
Death would neither be denied nor weaponized. We would learn to face our mortality with honest grief and enduring hope. Amidst the ongoing tensions, tragedies, and aspirations of being human, we would live together with nothing to prove and nothing to lose.
I believe all of this was Jesus’s dream when he designed this prayer and taught it to that wildly diverse crowd of people in the shadow of Rome’s violent empire. This is how we – God’s new we that sees even enemies as family – can build a shared home together in which nothing is lost, all will be well, and love never ends.
We are only just beginning to realize the revolutionary potential of Jesus’s prayer.
So why pray?
To practice flourishing.
*** Excerpt from Andrew DeCort, Flourishing on the Edge of Faith: Seven Practices for a New We (Washington, DC: BitterSweetBooks, 2022), 157-161. Available at BitterSweetBooks, Amazon, Audible, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers.