Ken Davis recounts a story from the days when Mike Ditka was coaching the Chicago Bears football team. Davis writes:

One day Ditka was about to deliver a locker room pep talk and he looked up and saw defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry. Then again, how could he NOT see him? At 338 pounds the Fridge stood out even in a crowd of pro football players! Ditka gestured to the Fridge and said, “When I get finished I’d like you to close with the Lord’s Prayer.” Then the coach began his talk.

Meanwhile, Jim McMahon, the brash and outspoken quarterback, punched John Cassis and whispered, “Look at Perry, he doesn’t know the Lord’s Prayer.” Sure enough Perry sat with a look of panic on his face, his head in his hands, sweating profusely. Cassis replied, “Nah . . . sure he does! He’s just nervous. Everybody knows the Lord’s Prayer!” After a few minutes of watching the Refrigerator leak several gallons of sweat, McMahon nudged Cassis again and said, “I’ll bet you 50 bucks Fridge doesn’t know the Lord’s Prayer.”

When Coach Ditka finished his pep talk, he asked all the men to remove their caps. Then he nodded at Perry and bowed his head. The room was quiet for a few moments before the Fridge began to speak in a shaky voice and said, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord, my soul to keep . . .”

Cassis felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Jim McMahon who whispered to him, “You win. Here’s the 50 dollars. I had no idea Perry knew the Lord’s Prayer.”

People are not born knowing the Lord’s Prayer. And those who learn it often fail to really understand the depth and significance of what they are praying. One line of the prayer that seems to be the least understood of all is, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Most Christians do not have a great deal of clarity on what the kingdom of heaven is. There’s a good reason for this. We can barely understand what this earth would look like if God’s kingdom were to really break into human history. It boggles the mind.

One technical phrase that’s often used to define the kingdom of God is the “range of God’s effective will.” Imagine everything that God desires to happen actually happening — the time, place, and reality when all he desires is what we experience. That’s God’s kingdom.

John Ortberg and Kevin & Sherry Harney, The Lord’s Prayer: Praying with Power (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).

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