Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“When you pray, pray like this…” With those simple words, Jesus invites you and me to learn how to pray. You’d think with all the prayer that goes on at church, that we’d know by now, but it’s always good and helpful to take a moment and simply listen to Jesus, reflecting on the words He’s given us, and praying with our whole being, not just our mouths. We started last week taking a look at who we’re praying to: our Father in heaven. God wants us to come to Him as His children, as brothers and sisters of Christ. While some of us had better relationships with our fathers than others, God our Father is who all our fathers are meant to imitate. To this specific God, we pray that His name would be holy, among us and throughout the world. It’s certainly holy whether we pray for it or not, but we pray that He would open our eyes to recognize who He is. We pray almost as a reminder to ourselves that He is God and we are not, so maybe we should live like it.
With the second petition tonight, we hear a very clear declaration of war. “Thy kingdom come.” Three small words that upset every earthly authority and every spiritual power. With these words, we renounce our allegiance to every organization, every nation, and every religion that seeks priority over Jesus Christ. Now, I know that’s a pretty bold statement, so let’s take a step back and work through the steps that bring us to where we are.
The first and most obvious question we have to ask is, “What is God’s Kingdom?” If we’re praying for God’s kingdom to come, it would be helpful if we knew what exactly it was that we are praying will come. In tonight’s Gospel reading, Jesus makes it pretty clear what His kingdom is not. He says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Unlike how Pontius Pilate was thinking about kingdoms, and quite unlike what comes to mind when we think about a kingdom, Jesus says that His kingdom is unlike anything this world has to offer. God’s kingdom is not a territorial kingdom that you can cross in and out of simply by being in one place or another. God’s kingdom is not a particular system of government as if democracy or communism were a God-appointed arrangement. God’s kingdom is the way God has chosen to work in this world.
Part of our problem is that we lose something in translation. The Greek word behind the word “kingdom” has a strong emphasis on action. In that case, it might be better translated as the reigning or ruling of God. The kingdom of God is how He has chosen to work in the world. To be specific, this kingdom is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen and offering salvation to the world by faith in Him. That’s what God’s kingdom, His ruling looks like in the world. It’s not of this world, but it is in this world, a way of life lived in faith, fully trusting in our King, Jesus.
How is that a declaration of war? On the one hand, it’s no threat at all to earthly governments. God’s way of working in the world is not altered by which political party is in power or which system of government is set up. There are faithful Christians around the world living under communism, under monarchies, under democracies, and under every shade of variance along the way. God’s ruling has nothing to do nations or governments. Living under God’s reign and praying for it to come means that we don’t have to pass a single law or elect a single person to office. But on the other hand, God’s kingdom is the greatest threat any nation has ever faced. Living in God’s kingdom means rejecting anything and everything that demands to be taken more importantly. Forget the flag. Forget the constitution. Forget your political party. Live as a baptized child of God. Live as a citizen of God’s kingdom. Put your faith, your hope, and your love in Christ alone. Thy kingdom come. Now yes, there is a time and a place for a Christian to be involved and active in our nation earthly politics, but until we get our idolatry under control, we will not be able to handle that conversation.
So, we know what God’s kingdom is: His ruling in the person and work of Jesus Christ, offering us life and salvation through Him alone. That’s God’s kingdom. What are we praying for when we pray for God’s kingdom to come. To pray God’s kingdom come means three things. We pray that God’s kingdom would come for us. We pray that God’s kingdom come for others. And we pray that God’s kingdom come once and for all.
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we ask that God would reign and rule in our lives. While we live here on this earth, we are pressured on every side to live as though God didn’t matter. Be it politics or culture or even our own sense of pride, it becomes very easy to live outside God’s reign and rule in this world. It’s very easy to turn our backs on and reject what Christ has to offer. In this petition, we pray that we would be Christians, that we would hold to the faith, or better yet, that God would hold us close to Himself. Thy kingdom come.
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we ask that God would reign and rule over all the earth. In our world, in our local communities, and even in our own families, we see many living outside of God’s rule in Christ. They follow their own desires, living only for themselves and rejecting any talk of God. In this petition, we pray that God would soften their hearts so they might come to recognize their Savior and be able to live in His kingdom forever. Thy kingdom come.
And when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we ask that God would reign and rule for eternity. We know that Christ is coming back. When He does, every other power and authority will be dissolved and He will reign supreme, fully and completely, for all time. It’s what we heard proclaimed in Revelation 11, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” In this petition, we pray that God would bring this world to an end and take us to be with Him forever. Thy kingdom come. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Lobe den Herrn
B. A. Woell