In my home country, the Gamilaraay, Big Sky Country of Northwestern NSW, we have a 213km long flood channel that crosses our land. It starts near Mungindi on the Queensland border, runs down past Lightning Ridge and my hometown of Collarenebri, and then ends up in between Walgett and Brewarrina. It only ever flows in big rain/flood times and it is called “The Big Warrambool.” Interestingly, “Warrambool” is the same name in our language for the Milky Way. This is because in Aboriginal understanding, land stories connect with sky stories.
This informs our lives. Why? Because the land (our earthly lives) must be influenced by and correspond to the sky (the spiritual realities)... there is an ever-present connection between physical and spiritual life. The two should never be separated. It is dangerous and damaging to forget the link. We are simultaneously spirit and flesh. This is at an individual level but also collectively as people. This calls us to a literal connection to country and to Spirit... it beckons us towards an integrated life, balanced and wholistic. This is who and how we are created to be.
When the tribal man Jesus, the one who made both Warrambools(!), sought to model prayer to His people, He demonstrates the same thing. He makes it clear that their land stories should match the sky stories. He instructs them to keep a connection between their earthly lives and the spiritual realities of the Creator. Whatever the All-Father is after, whatever He has determined in the spiritual, ask Him to help you to make that a reality in the physical… hence, His words, “on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Even prayer, as understood from an Aboriginal perspective, is about ceremony. Ceremony is the link between the tangible and the intangible, the way to remember the spiritual truths and to pass them on. Ceremonies were not merely performance but mainly practical, they expressed the link between the Creator, the country and the community. Some dances when completed would literally leave a map on the ground showing the people where they needed to travel in order to get to their required destination.
Ceremony is essential and ever-present throughout the Scriptures. Postures and practices point beyond the physical and link to the spiritual. Ceremony is sorely needed in the Australian landscape. To forget the ceremonies is to forget the link.
Also important to consider is time. In Aboriginal culture, time is considered as more interconnected than linear. It wasn't merely one day only leading to another; nor was the focus predominately on the future. Much like the Israelites who constantly were reminded to think of their heritage, those who came before them, what had happened as a people, traditional cultures often see the future by remembering the past and making it inform their present.
Jesus prays: “as it is”. We must understand that the Kingdom is. He isn't just praying to give us information, but calling us to application; specific actions in specific places. There is a strong biblical call to live out our faith today, to make the realities of the all-time come to fruition here and now. Heaven isn’t merely real estate that’s far away, it’s a reality that’s to be lived out today.
So look at Jesus’ prayer from my Aboriginal heritage: