Summary: When we pray, we seek God's kingdom and God's will to be done.
“His Kingdom, His Will”
March 29, 2009
I am indebted today for several thoughts to Timothy Peck, a California pastor; his excellent insights were a help in today’s message.
As we said last week, I begin my praying, not with a focus on myself and whatever needs I might have, but rather with a focus on God. After I have taken care of answering the relationship questions raised by “Our Father in Heaven”, I then turn my attention to God’s priorities. God’s priorities matter more than do my own. I do not pray then for things to take place that I know to be contrary to the will of God as revealed in His Word; that’s an easy call. It is God’s priorities that must increasingly become my own; it’s God’s loves, and God’s hates, and God’s purposes, and God’s plans, to which I must give my own attention and effort. And so I continue my praying, not with a laundry list of my own desires, but by agreeing that what matters most to me is what matters most to God, specifically, three things: His character, His kingdom, and His cause. (Read text)
Martin Luther once said that if most Christians really understood what they were saying whey they prayed this part of the Lord’s Prayer, they’d shudder with fear. Why do you think he’d say that?
What we are talking about in today’s text is
Praying God’s Priorities
Note first that when we pray, we acknowledge that things are broken in this world. It’s an underlying assumption in Jesus’ prayer here, in the very fact that we pray.
• I am broken
o I tend to pray most fervently when something or someone closely related to me is broken.
Broken financially or spiritually
o But the greater truth is that I am personally broken as a result of my sin, in such a way that I desperately need the fix that only God offers me in Christ. Further,
• The world is broken; it isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, in many ways.
o Environmentally, we’ve abused the world we were supposed to steward.
o Economically, we’re broken by our greed and impatience, and now we are reaping the whirlwind.
o Globally, we’re broken and divided into nations that spy on each other & war against each other.
o Relationally, we have abandoned God’s standards for getting along with each other, making and breaking marriage covenants like ‘tain’t no big deal.
o Spiritually, we’ve chased after false gods of our own making instead of the true God. Need I go on?
When I pray, I am acknowledging that things aren’t the way they are supposed to be in this world, that it is only God Who can fix things, ultimately. When I pray this prayer, when I engage in saying and meaning the things we’re going to talk about today, I am asking God that things be fixed. But briefly, before I get there, I note
I. His Character (6:9b)
We looked at His character last week. I have prayed that the name of God be held in high esteem by the people He has created; that’s what I’m doing when I pray, “hallowed be Your name.” This is my first petition; it sets up the others; it acknowledges God for Who He is; it takes Him seriously. I remind myself of Who it is I’m addressing, that for all of our understandable and appropriate emphasis upon the approachability of God, He is nonetheless “our Father in Heaven”, Whose name must be held in high esteem in my praying, but also in my living. But here’s where “praying for a broken world” comes in:
II. His Kingdom
When we think of “Kingdom”, we think in terms of…well, let’s play the Match Game. “_______ Kingdom” or “Kingdom ______”. Did anybody say (dating myself here) “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”? Remember Marlon Perkins? I remember Jim (no last name given), Marlon’s sidekick. Marlon would take us all around the world and report, but Jim would do the real work. “Let’s watch as Jim sticks his entire head in the mouth of the agitated rhinoceros”.
The kingdom of God does not refer, of course, to some physical location here on earth, but rather it refers to the rule of God in the hearts and lives of His people. We think in terms of a place, like the “Magic Kingdom” or the Kingdom of Tibet, for instance. But the Bible idea is to emphasize rule and reign, not some particular geographical location. And it’s happened that here on earth, in certain scenarios, different people who live as neighbors nonetheless give allegiance to differing authorities. Tim Peck gives one such example:
“In the country of Laos many years ago the kings of Laos and Vietnam reached an agreement on how to distinguish which residents were under the Laotian government and which residents were under the Vietnamese government. Those who ate short-grain rice, built their houses on stilts, and decorated their homes with Indian-style serpents were considered Laotian. Those who ate long-grain rice, built their homes on the ground and decorated their homes with Chinese style dragons were considered Vietnamese…though they lived in the same geographical area, their kingdom allegiance was determined by the values and culture they embraced.” And today here in America, where we all profess an allegiance to the United States as is appropriate of citizens, it is nonetheless true that Christ-followers give their allegiance first and foremost to a King Whose Kingdom is not of this world.