Pray Then Like This: Meditations on the Lord's Prayer part 4

Your kingdom come...

What comes to mind when you think of the word kingdom? In modern English we usually think of the realm over which a king exercises his authority. We might think for example of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The primary meaning of Kingdom in English is a realm, a place. The second meaning refers to the people under the authority of the king; The subjects of the kingdom. This English usage can get us into trouble when it comes to understanding the Bible.

George Ladd warns us, “The exclusive application of either of these two ideas to the Biblical teaching of the Kingdom leads us astray from a correct understanding of the Biblical truth.”[1]



He says, “The primary meaning of both the Hebrew word malkuth in the Old Testament and of the Greek word basileia in the New Testament is the rank, authority and sovereignty exercised by a king. A basileia may indeed be a realm… and it may be the people who belong to that realm…; but these are secondary and derived meanings. First of all, a kingdom is the authority to rule, the sovereignty of the king.”[2]

The Bible, from beginning to end, presents God as king. He is on the throne of the universe and reigns over all. We may label this the universal kingdom of God. But the Bible also speaks about the kingdom of God in a different sense. In this sense the kingdom began with the coming of Jesus. 

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15)

This kingdom is not universal. It belongs to the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). Jesus says only those who are born of water and the Spirit can enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).

The Old Testament hope was that God’s coming kingdom meant salvation for God’s people. In light of this we may understand the Kingdom of God as the exercise of God’s sovereignty in delivering us from sin and Satan.

The second petition of the Lord's Prayer is for the coming of the kingdom. Your Kingdom come. There are two senses in which we should pray for this to happen. The first is to pray for the expansion of the kingdom

It will help us to understand this by considering how the kingdom of God came to us in the first place.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13)

There are two kingdoms in the universe; the domain of darkness and the kingdom of God. All of us were born into the domain of darkness because of our union with Adam. This is the place of misery, death, unrighteousness and God’s wrath. One day God will bring final judgment against this kingdom and all who remain in it.

Colossians tells us that Christians, who were once in the domain of darkness, are there no longer, having been transferred to Jesus’ kingdom where there is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). God’s kingdom came to us when God acted. He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.

We often think about entering the kingdom of God from the human perspective. We enter the kingdom of God when we believe in Jesus, or when we repent, or when we submit ourselves to Him. These things are true, but they are not the perspective Jesus is teaching. The perspective of this prayer is of God’s action, not ours. He is the one who brings the kingdom. He is the one who delivers us and transfers us. He is the one who enables us to come to Jesus in the first place. Salvation is of the Lord.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)

We saw in a previous devotion that the Lord’s Prayer is a model for us. That means we shouldn't pray, “Your kingdom come” and then move on to something else. Jesus wants us to be gripped by this petition, think through all it entails and then to pray intelligently. Here are some examples from Scripture of what this request involves.

Pray for people to be saved

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)

Pray for God to send more labourers 

Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:37-38)

Pray for God to provide opportunities for the gospel to be preached

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison - (Colossians 4:3)

Pray for God to make the preaching of the gospel effective

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, (2 Thessalonians 3:1)

There is a second sense in which we should pray for God’s kingdom to come. This prayer not only entails the expansion of the kingdom, but also the consummation of the Kingdom.

The Bible presents the Kingdom of God as both, a present reality, and a future hope. The kingdom is here but is not here in its fullness. Just think about your life. Do you experience full and final salvation from sin and Satan? The Kingdom of God will be finally consummated with the second coming of Jesus. This aspect of the petition is encapsulated well at the end of Revelation.

He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

The second petition of the Lord's Prayer is connected to the first, because it is only as people are saved and brought into the kingdom of God that they hallow His name.

____________

[1] George E. Ladd, What is the Kingdom of God? http://gospelpedlar.com/articles/Last%20Things/kogladd.html
[2] Ibid


Pray Then Like This
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

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