Teach Us To Pray: Your Kingdom Come
This is the sixth article in a series of blogs posts on the Lord’s Prayer. You can read the previous entries in this series here, here, here, here, and here. In this post, we will discuss the second request Jesus encourages us to present in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your Kingdom Come.” So what does it mean to pray “Your Kingdom Come?”
1) This kind of prayer involves
First we acknowledge that we are not God. To pray “Your Kingdom Come” is an acknowledgement that there is another King than the kings of the world. It also acknowledges our dependence on God. We cannot usher in the kingdom of God. We cannot, on our own, make a better world. We are at the mercy of God. This prayer is a desperate plea: Lord, please send your kingdom!
Second, we acknowledge that this world is not as it should be. This is a prayer for a better world. It doesn’t take much effort to look around and realize that this world is not as it should be. Jesus reminds us that God’s people have the promise of a better world. We long for the day our righteous king finally consummates His kingdom.
Jesus’ new Kingdom is inhabited by those who put their faith in him. And His people are citizens of this new Kingdom. Today, the church is a signpost to that world to come. We apply the good news of the gospel by working for justice in our communities, but do this knowing that no human movement can perfectly fix all the problems of the world. We will never achieve utopia. Only our triumphant King, Jesus, will perfectly make all things new when he returns.
2) This kind of prayer affects your perspective
Consider how revolutionary and radical Jesus’ words were. For the Jewish people, to ruled by the Romans in their own land was humiliating. Every day, as they walked in the marketplace, as they passed by the temple, as they went about their daily business the symbols of Roman rule reminded them of how much they had lost as a people. So Jesus words, proclaiming the sovereignty of another kingdom, were a balm to the soul. Caesar is not God, Caesar is not the ultimate king.
Jesus words are a powerful word to every single monarch who has ever lived and who will live. You may rule a certain group of people. You may be a President or Prime Minister or dictator. But you are not the ultimate king. You are subject to the Creator.
As citizens of God’s kingdom, we need not fear history. We need not fear tyrants. We need not fear current events.
The Bible surveys all of human history, it’s wreckage, it’s sin, it’s evil and it’s bloodshed. It makes a radical claim that a man from Nazareth who walked this earth 2,000 years ago is the ultimate King who will come back and restore what is right in the world. The curse of this earth, the curse on creation, the trouble in my own heart, and the evil I see in the world—this has all been defeated and through Christ I can see glimpses of a better world to come.
History didn’t happen by accident. My life didn’t happen by accident. God holds both in his sovereign hand and one day will gather history to its conclusion in Christ’s kingdom.
3) This kind of prayer affects your . . . prayer
To pray, “Your kingdom come” teaches us how to pray, not only for the future, but for the present. It teaches us to pray big prayers. As much as this is a vision of a world to come, it’s also a willingness to yield ourselves to the kingdom way of life Jesus wants us to live while here on this earth.
It’s a prayer that is not only praying for God’s kingdom to come in it’s fullness but that it also breaks in today, in this earth, in my community, in my family, in my church, in my own heart. It’s a prayer for the Church to become a window into the kingdom, to reflect the values and the ethics of the kingdom, to become ambassadors for the kingdom.
4) This kind of prayer affects our practice
Praying, “Your Kingdom Comes” implies an allegiance to another King and another Kingdom. Jesus didn’t just give us a promise of the consummated kingdom, but he gave us the kingdom now—in that it exists in the hearts of God’s own people.
Jesus said kingdom living involves abandoning building our own little kingdoms and committing to building His, whatever that looks like, however He leads us. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live this way. And for one thing, it means it reorders our priorities. Jesus said to us in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all of these things will be added unto you.” What are “those things”? These are the necessities of life, your house, your food, your clothing. Things, Jesus said, that your father knows you need.
In a sense, this prayer is a prayer of humility. It’s a prayer admitting that your desires, your will, your efforts are not always kingdom-centered. The problem with most of the world is not anything less than the fact that we want to be kings of our own kingdoms. We want to be our own Lords. But the most joyful, the most freeing thing we can do is to recognize that we were not made to be kings or lords. We need a King and Lord. And submitting to His kingdom frees us to be who we were created to be.
When we pray this prayer, we are saying, “Lord, send your Kingdom, but first begin with me.”