Why should we pray to God “Your kingdom come?” The answer is that it is essential that we do so. There are many who see that the present world is in a horrible mess and in a rapid moral downward spiral. Many of them pray this phrase with a great desire for God to intervene in this world before it is “too late”. One would have to admit for example that the world is in danger from radical extremism. In addition there are many atheists and agnostics who believe that Christians have become the most persecuted people in the world.
The prayer that Jesus taught us can make a difference when we pray it with the right motivation. Our motivation in praying for God’s kingdom to come should be to see His rule being established in the hearts of every individual and in the affairs of all the peoples of the world.
1). WHAT “THE KINGDOM OF GOD” MEANS. It means God’s rule over people. It means submitting to Him. Letting Him dictate how we should live personally, in family life and as a society. It means, by His grace, living by His laws, obeying the two great commands to love God with all we are and to love one another as ourselves. God always meant His people to live under His direction as their king. But when His people eventually cried out for a human leader like the leaders of the nations around Israel, He saw they were rejecting His rule over them and He allowed them to have a king. God promised in 2 Sam 7:12-16 that though He was allowing an earthly king over His people, He would eventually establish a throne, a kingdom that would never come to an end. It was later associated with the role of the Messiah, in Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness.”
In a sense God was always in control even when He allowed His people to turn away from His rule and to seek an earthly type of king to rule over them, Psa 103:19 “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” But there would come a time when His kingdom would come more fully, when the Messiah would come, and He would ultimately bring in the fulfilment of the kingdom in which all the enemies of God would be completely overcome, e.g., Dan 6:26 “He is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.”
2). THE KINGDOM HAS COME IN JESUS
i). John the Baptist declared this truth in his preaching as he prepared the way for the coming of the Christ, the Messiah. Mat 3:1, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus was soon to begin His ministry and people were to get ready to respond to their coming Messiah. Many people including tax collectors recognised that they needed to repent. They responded to John’s message and were baptised by him, Luke 7:29, “When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” However many of the religious leaders set their hearts against Jesus as the Coming Messiah even before He began His ministry to bring in the kingdom.
ii). Jesus as He began his ministry, taught that the kingdom had come in Himself. Mat 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And in Mat 4:23, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” The good news of the kingdom was that Jesus had come to set people free from their sin. He had also come to heal the sick and people saw the power of God (Kingdom power) at work in the healings that took place through His ministry.
iii). It took a thief hanging on his own cross to recognise that the Jesus hanging in weakness on a cross near him, was a king. In one of the most faith-filled statements that were ever uttered from human lips he said, Luke 23:42 “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Who looked less like a king than Jesus hanging in weakness on a cross, the object of spite and scorn and hatred? Many of the religious people, who should have recognised Jesus as King, rejected Him. Many sinners like the thief, accepted Him.
iv). Jesus demonstrated the power of the kingdom in His miracles, signs and wonders. He challenged the people as He ministered to them in the power of the Spirit, Mat 12:28 “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” Lk 11:20. He did drive out demons so it meant the kingdom of God had come. He was simultaneously preaching and exhibiting the kingdom in His healing and deliverance ministry.
v). He demonstrated the power of the kingdom in His death, resurrection, ascension, being seated at the right hand of God in heaven, and in sending the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1, Luke described how Jesus, after His resurrection and before He ascended to heaven, appeared to His disciples for 40 days, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:6 ‘So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”’
He promised that they would soon receive a new power to live and to witness when they were baptised with the Holy Spirit. Some days later they received the Spirit of God into their lives and were transformed. Peter explained that this was the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise about the kingdom He had come to establish.
Paul indicated much the same as he shows in Eph 1:20-23 how Jesus ascended into heaven, and is seated at God’s right hand, as King of kings and Lord of lords, having established His kingdom. Whether people like it or not, the Bible indicates that Jesus Christ is Lord and King, and they need to submit to Him.
3). WE NEED TO ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS. Jesus taught that Satan had a kingdom. But it was a kingdom He had come to destroy. John wrote of the power that Satan had in an unbelieving world, 1Jn 5:19, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” When Jesus cast out demons He was accused of being an instrument of Satan. He pointed out the absurdity of such a suggestion, Mat 12:26 “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” And in Luke 11:18 “And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.” Jesus was exercising the power of the kingdom of God in delivering people from the power of Satan.
Paul reminded those from a Gentile background that they had been set free from one dominion when they believed and they had entered into another kingdom, Col 1:12 “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” From darkness to light. From bondage to freedom. From being guilty before God, to be forgiven by Him, through faith in Him.
To be able to enter into the Kingdom of God is an evidence of God’s love and grace to us. Jesus said that people needed to be born again to enter it. He said to Nicodemus, John 3:3-5, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. … no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” How could that happen? By putting one’s faith in Jesus for salvation, Jn 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, (on a cross for sinners) that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have eternal life.” As the Israelites looked in faith at God’s provision of a bronze serpent on a pole for their healing, so people have to look by faith at Jesus as the One crucified on a cross to take away sin, in order to be saved.
When one receives Jesus into their life as Saviour, they enter into the kingdom. It’s not on the basis of human goodness, but through faith in who Jesus is and in what He has done through His life, death and resurrection.. Entry into the kingdom is open to all those who are open to Him. That’s what Jesus said about the most unlikely people who were entering the kingdom, while a lot of religious people were missing out, (Mat 21:31 “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 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.” Those who exercised their freewill in rejecting God’s purpose in sending Jesus were nevertheless accountable to God for their rejection.
4). WE NEED TO LET GOD ESTABLISH HIS KINGDOM RULE IN OUR HEARTS. Jesus taught that His followers were to enter into the kingdom, and let the kingdom enter more and more into them. Instead of focussing on and worrying about the so-called necessities of life such as food, shelter and clothing, they needed to focus on the kingdom, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Mat 6:33.
i). It means relying on God for the very necessities of life rather than being absorbed in the search for those material things, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. Rom 14:17, 18. It is about a relationship with God and the blessings of peace and joy which follow.
ii). It means having a humble dependency on God like that of a young child, Mat 19:14 ‘Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”’ Mk 10:14. Faith is not childish but rather exhibits child -like dependence.
iii). It means giving oneself completely to God, and not turning back, Luke 9:62 “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Being, by God’s grace, a member of the kingdom of God brings the responsibility of gratefully rendering to Him one’s undivided loyalty and total commitment to Him as King.
iv). It means becoming the people of praise God meant us to be. It is part of obeying the first commandment given by Jesus, Mat 22:37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.” Peter reminded his readers about their identity in Christ, 1 Pet 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” As His people they had the privilege and the responsibility to declare His praises (or to declare His “excellencies” as the words could also be translated). An unrighteous king or ruler might demand acclamation and complete servitude but the King of heaven desires that His people praise and serve Him willingly and gratefully from their hearts, for the good it does THEM!
v). It means doing the works God had planned for us to do in kingdom living, Eph 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” And in Titus 2:13-14. “(Jesus) gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself, a people of His own, zealous for good works“. God’s kingdom has come in Jesus but it still has to come fully in its entirety when He returns in glory. God’s kingdom may indeed be extended as we play our part as His willing subjects in being the people of God He wants us to be and in doing the things He has eternally planned for us to do.
There is an amazing statement in 2Pet 3:11-12 where Peter writes, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12) waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” The coming of the King as Jesus returns will bring completion to the kingdom and these words seem to indicate that believers can play a part in determining when that will be, by living holy and godly lives. Such godly living will “hasten the coming” of the day. “Hasten” is from the Greek (σπεύδω, speudō) which means to bring about more quickly. Vincent’s Word Studies explains it thus, “causing the day of the Lord to come more quickly by helping to fulfil those conditions without which it cannot come.” Only God knows when that will be but we are encouraged to live in such a way that it will come sooner (humanly speaking) as we live as we should. We can help bring back the King sooner! He told us in His word!
The king is on His throne in His kingdom. Kingdom power, resurrection power is now available to His people as Jesus is ruler of all. Paul prays that they will know the hope of the kingdom, the riches of the kingdom, and the power of the kingdom, Eph 1:18 “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” He is the eternal, incomparable King of all kings.
PRAYING THE LORD’S PRAYER TODAY. There is great fear throughout the world because of the progress of terrorism and its associated violence and extreme senseless brutality. It seems that there is another ideology which wants everyone on earth to submit to it but it is entirely different to the kingdom of God. Suffice it to say here that God will brook no rival because of the love He has for His people. That’s why we need to pray earnestly, “Your kingdom come” so that God can work through our prayers to establish His kingdom rule in the hearts of those who don’t know Him and who may be, in their ignorance, seeking to set up another “kingdom” entirely at odds with His.
Paul knew the danger of false ideologies. He instructed the Corinthian church how to deal with them, 2 Cor 10:3-5, “For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, (4) since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments (5) and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” For our own protection we can take all our thoughts to the Lord so that He can enable us to discern what is of Him and what is not of Him in our thinking and to make the right choices in life.
But we can do something for the safety and protection of the wider world as well. We can pray for all those in leadership positions in the world (those legally elected and those unlawfully gained) and for all those under their influence that God would demolish strongholds in their minds which do not respect Christ as King and may in fact be demonic and opposed to His purposes for the world. We can pray that He would demolish all ideologies in the minds of people that do not give Christ His rightful place as King, Creator, Saviour, Lord and Judge.
Fear can paralyse us. Concern can motivate us to do something about situations over which we have no control. Trust in Jesus as King can enable us to pray to the One who can do something that only He can do in situations in answer to our prayers.
Perhaps as we next pray the first part of the Lord’s Prayer we might take a little more time to add something like this, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. O Lord may Your Kingdom come more fully in every area of my life including my thought life. I want to be the person You want me to be and to do the things You want me to do. I pray too that Your kingdom may come in the lives of every person in this world , to demolish the strongholds that exist in their minds and to destroy every ideology that seeks to bind people rather than releasing them into Your glorious truth and into the glorious liberty that we enjoy as Your children. Please put into my mind the people and the situations for which You want me to pray so that I can play my part in seeing the demolishing of strongholds in their lives and seeing captives being set free. I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour, Lord and King. AMEN.”
Some suggested questions for discussion
1). If God is King why is there so much evil in the world? Is His power limited? [See section 1 especially]
2). What does Luke 23:39 – 43 tell us about the difficulty in recognising Jesus as a king? [See section 2 (iii) especially]
3). How does one come into God’s kingdom and under God’s kingdom rule? [See section 3 especially]
4). What are the blessings that come to those who come into God’s kingdom? [See section 3 especially]
5). How can we in practical terms, “seek first” God’s kingdom? What changes would be needed in our priorities? [See section 4 especially]
Blog No.175. Jim Holbeck. Published on Tuesday 23rd February 2016