While many theologians over the centuries have written about this notion, mostly recently I have been reading about it in Evelyn Underhill’s Concerning the Inner Life, a book I would highly recommend.
Underhill wrote of the Lord’s Prayer as an example of one way to move in your prayers from one floor to the other and weld the whole thing together as a whole and complete house. This particular prayer “witnesses with a wonderful beauty and completeness to this two-story character of the soul’s house.” It is such a lovely and helpful way to think about this concept, so I thought I would share it with you here today.
We begin at the top of the house with the one relationship that rules all the rest:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
“Whatever the downstairs muddle and tension we have to deal with … all this rich and testing experience is enfolded and transfused by the cherishing, over-ruling life and power of God.”
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The prayer then brings us gradually downstairs allowing the sacred to fill every space, cleansing and sanctifying it all. Thy Kingdom come – hope and expectation. Thy will be done – the loving union of our will with His.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Give us the “food from beyond ourselves which nourishes and sustains our life. Forgive all our little failures and excesses, neutralize the corroding power of our conflicts … we can’t deal with them alone … Lead us not into situations where we are tried beyond our strength; … and protect the weakness of the adolescent spirit against the downward pull of the inhabitants of the lower floor.”
And then? The reason for all of this.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
“… bringing together, in one supreme declaration of joy and confidence, the soul’s sense of that supporting, holy, and eternal Reality who is the Ruler and the Light … of every room in every little house.”