Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”… So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion…”
Genesis 1:26a, 27-28a
Timothy Keller, in his book Prayer, observes that books on prayer often emphasize prayer either as a means for experiencing God’s love and communion, or as a means for calling in God’s kingdom. Keller names these two ways of praying “communion centered” and “kingdom centered”. He notes that the Bible teaches both.
In today’s foundational Biblical text on prayer we observe God creating humanity in His image for both “communion centered” and “kingdom centered” purposes. God created us in His image because He wanted us to enjoy communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From communion with God there flows to us delegated authority over His kingdom. God created us to fill the earth, to take charge over all powers opposed to God, and to exercise His authority over the world.
The significance of being created in the image of God is breathtaking and must be read within the context of the ancient Near East where the prevailing images were those of kings. A king customarily erected his image throughout his kingdom to assert his sovereign rule, much like nations today plant their flag. Kings of Babylon, Pharaohs of Egypt and other monarchs set up such images. Old Testament theologian Bruce Waltke unfolds the implications of our being made in the image of God:
As we step out onto the stage of life, we are to understand that the blessed God crowned all of us, not just the kings and priests who rule us, to reign with glory and honor and dignity…God has called humanity to be his vice-regents and high priests on earth…In other words, humankind is created to establish the rule of God on earth. (An Old Testament Theology)
As we commune with God we are empowered by Him for kingdom purposes, to exercise His delegated authority over our world. The psalmist exults in the authority God grants for rule over the earth: “The heavens are the LORD’S heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings” (Psalm 115:16, emphasis added). Prayer is both God’s means by which we commune with Him and by which we share in His rule over our world. God bestows on us authority to actually ask for His kingdom to come, and for His will to be done on the earth as it is in heaven.
Within God’s sovereign, creative purposes He has chosen to so dignify humanity that there are things He cannot do in the world, but in response to our prayers. Through prayer we live out our identity as creatures made in God’s image!
God placed us here to plant the flag of His kingdom, to rule over all the powers opposed to Him. Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft rightly observes: “Prayer is the widest circle of influence we have.” (Prayer: The Great Conversation) God has created you and empowered you to make things happen through prayer.
- Put your “crown” on for a few moments and, as God’s king or queen on the earth, talk with God about the places or situations in the world where you want His kingdom to come and His will to be done.
- After you have finished speaking with God sit for a few moments in His presence, enjoying communion with Him. End your time of prayer by praying The Lord’s Prayer.
“God receives us just as we are and accepts our prayers just as they are. In the same way that a small child cannot draw a bad picture so a child of God cannot offer a bad prayer.”
Richard Foster, Prayer