STUDIES IN THE LORD'S PRAYER
Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2002
STUDY FOUR: YOUR KINGDOM COME
We have seen in Study Three that the first concern in our praying is God-centred. The first part of this concern was for the honour, or hallowing, of God's name. The second part of this God-centred concern or focus of prayer is God's kingdom. Jesus told us to pray 'your kingdom come'.
We have already seen, when we studied the sovereignty and majesty of God, that he is indeed King of all the earth. The whole earth, with all of its nations and peoples, is his. Nothing is outside of his control or beyond his authority and power. Why then, do we need to pray 'your kingdom come'? Because his kingdom, his rule, his authority, his sovereignty, are not acknowledged by all; in fact, as the Scriptures make clear, this is a rebel world, and we are rebellious people. From the first rebellion against his authority until the final elimination of rebellion described in Revelation and other Biblical books, there is cosmic rejection of his authority and rule. There is also a cosmic rejection of the principles and mindset of his Kingdom. It is only where the Spirit of God has taken the Word of God about the Son of God and shone into the darkness of men's hearts that there is any reduction or reversal of this rebellion against the eternal King. And it is only there that we are set free from the bondage of the performance-based mindset of the kingdom of darkness and liberated to live in the life/peace mindset of the Kingdom of light.
[Read Psalm 145 to get a feel of the joy of God's Kingdom.]
These two aspects of God's Kingdom combine to reveal a truth that is largely overlooked: the Gospel is 'the Gospel - the good news - of the Kingdom' [Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Luke 4:43; 8:1; Acts 8:12]. God's kingdom is the content of New Testament preaching [Mark 1:14; Luke 9:2,11,60; 16:16; Acts 1:3; 20:25; 28:23, 31]. Associated with this 'good news' quality of the Kingdom is the fact that it is something of great value and great attraction:
- To possess God's Kingdom is to be 'blessed' [Matthew 5:3,10; Luke 6:20; 14:15].
- God's Kingdom is something God really wants us to have [Luke 12:32].
- God's Kingdom should be our Number One priority [Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31].
- The Kingdom is like a treasure for which a man will give all he has [Matthew 13:44-46].
- The Kingdom is of greater significance than anything one has or is [Mark 9:42-47; Luke 18:29].
- The Kingdom is so wonderful that people will be overcome with dismay at having missed out [Luke 13:28].
- The Kingdom is likened to a party or wedding feast [Matthew 22:1-14 25:1-13].
So, what are we praying when we say 'your kingdom come'? We are praying for the coming of God's kingdom in three dimensions: inner, expanding and ultimate.
A. WE ARE PRAYING THAT KINGDOM OF GOD WILL COME IN OUR OWN HEARTS
Luke records 'Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was, "The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is!' or 'There it is!' because the Kingdom of God is within you."' [Luke 17:20-21'.
This is the personal or inner dimension of the Kingdom of God. This begins when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and God, when we realize, admit, and confess that Jesus Christ is exactly who he claimed to be, the Son of God, and who the Scriptures claim that he is, King of kings and Lord of lords. To receive Jesus Christ is to receive him as the King. He is no less that this. He can be no less than this. To receive Jesus Christ is to enter into his Kingdom and to embrace his Kingdom and its mindset and principles
From that point of Christian confession onwards his Kingdom is within us.
When we pray 'your kingdom come' we are praying that his Kingdom will be more and more of a reality in our lives:
- That we will live with joy and confidence under the rule of Christ our King.
- That we will embrace the rule of grace that is the over-riding principle of his Kingdom.
- That we will acknowledge him as King in the moral choices of our lives.
- That we will acknowledge him as King in the circumstances and relationships of our lives.
- That we will live lives fitting for members of the Kingdom of the King of kings.
- That we will live in the reality of the joy and peace which are our inheritance in his Kingdom.
- That we will live in accordance with the principles of his Kingdom.
We are praying for the ever increasing impact of his Kingdom - his reign- in our lives.
B. WE ARE PRAYING THAT PEOPLE WILL BE ADDED TO HIS KINGDOM AS THE TRUTH ABOUT JESUS IS PROCLAIMED
Jesus taught that where he was present the God's Kingdom drew near to men:
'From this time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near"' [Matthew 4:17].
'But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you' [Matthew 12:28].
Jesus taught that where his followers went on his mission the God's Kingdom drew near to men:
'When you enter a town ... tell them "The kingdom of God is near you"' [Luke 10:8-12].
Jesus taught that to truly repent and believe meant entering the Kingdom:
'I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him' [Matthew 21:31-32].
'Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it' [Luke 16:16].
' ... no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. ... no one can enter the kingdom of God unless his is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit' [John 3:3,6].
Jesus taught that those who believe in him know the truth about God's kingdom:
'The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those who are outside everything is said in parables ... ' [Mark 4:11].
Jesus taught that the expansion of the kingdom comes by the proclamation of the Word of God:
Read the following parables:
- Parable of the Sower [Mark 4:2-20; Matthew 13:1-23].
- Parable of the Weeds [Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43].
- Parable of the Mustard Seed [Matthew 13:31-32].
Jesus taught that in his death and resurrection the Kingdom of God came with power; wherever that death and resurrection are proclaimed the Kingdom of God is seen:
'I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God' [Luke 9:27].
Thus when we pray 'your kingdom come' we are praying that the Good News of Christ's Kingdom [Luke 8:1; 9:2,11; 16:16; Acts 28:23] will be proclaimed, and that people will hear, and understand that in hearing this message about Jesus Christ, they are being confronted by the Almighty Sovereign Lord; we are praying that they will believe and repent, and thus enter into that Kingdom as it enters into them by the power of the Spirit of God.
'What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.' [Mark 4:30-32].
'For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves ...' [Colossians 1:13].
It is here, under this heading of concern for God and his expanding Kingdom, that our prayers for the conversion of our relatives and friends, and for the work of mission and evangelism, fit in. Here we are praying that his Kingdom will come to them: that someone will tell them of the good news of his Kingdom, that the Spirit of God will impact their hearts with the truth and urgency and wonder of the Kingdom, and that they will repent and believe, and so enter that Kingdom, born again by the power of the Spirit.
C. WE ARE PRAYING, OVER AND ABOVE ALL, THAT HIS ULTIMATE KINGDOM WILL COME
From Genesis 3 onwards there is an anticipation of the coming of God's Kingdom. Many have been deluded over the centuries, thinking that the ultimate Kingdom is the Kingdom of Israel, while all the time national Israel is but a prophetic shadow of the real Kingdom. Many are still deluded, perceiving God's Kingdom in physical, earth-bound categories. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived into a minimal view of the ultimate coming Kingdom.
- 'His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation' [Daniel 4:3].
- 'The Lord has established his throne in the heaven, and his kingdom rules over all' [Psalm 103:19].
- ' ... flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God ... ' [1 Corinthians 15:50].
- ' ... we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken ... ' [Hebrews 12:28'.
What does our prayer mean here? It means that under this heading we are praying for:
- The return of Jesus Christ.
- The final end of Satan and his demons, and sin and evil.
- The coming of the Day of Judgement/the Day of the Lord.
- The eradication of suffering.
- The worldwide acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Lord, when every one will know that he is who he claimed to be.
- The time when the faith of Christians will be validated and they will come into their inheritance [which is the kingdom] as children of their heavenly Father.
Go to Worksheet 4 for Biblical references to each of the above.
'Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?' [James 2:5].
'And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down' [Revelation 12:10].
' ... The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever' [Revelation 11:15].
For this kingdom we wait, and for the ultimate coming of this kingdom we pray.
All of this and more we are praying for when we pray 'your kingdom come'. It is a massive prayer.
In this are included and validated:
- our prayers of personal commitment.
- our prayers for the conversion of people.
- our prayers for our church.
- our prayers for the work of local and worldwide mission.
- and our prayers for the return of Jesus Christ and all that that involves.
To pray 'your kingdom come' involves personal commitment to God's kingdom.
- Do I desire his kingly authority to rule in my own life?
- Do I pray for the spread of the Good News to the hearts of individuals and worldwide?
- Do I prayerfully anticipate his return?
Incorporate the powerful reality of this prayer 'your kingdom come' into your prayers during the next week.
' He who testifies to these things says:
"I am coming soon."
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.' Revelation 22:20