Summary: "Thy Kingdom come" is a call for God to increase His Kingdom, to convert the hearts of unbelievers, to draw people to a saving knowledge of Christ.
"Thy Kingdom Come"
Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
Introduction: Astronaut James Erwin is one of but a few men to walk on the moon. As he stood upon the lunar landscape and looked up at the earth, he prayed for the first time in his life. He thought about the strife among nations, poverty, hunger, and rampant evil; and he thought to himself: "What is more important than man walking on the moon is that God should walk on earth." This is the desire we express when we pray, "Thy Kingdom come."
The King and His present-and-future Kingdom
The prophet Isaiah offers a wealth of prophecy about the coming Messiah-He reveals that one day God’s Son will establish His Kingdom: "The government will rest on His shoulders…His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!" (9:6-7). The Messiah will establish His authority. The title Messiah means "anointed one." We inaugurate Presidents; we anoint Kings.
The word "kingdom" in the original language means "rule" or "reign". God’s Kingdom is unique-it is not a human kingdom. Earthly kingdoms rise and fall, but the reign of God will prevail and last forever. God’s program involves the rule of righteousness.
Pilate asked Jesus what kind of king He was; Jesus didn’t fit Pilate’s perception; He didn’t conform to the popular notion of a political ruler. Jesus responded, saying, "My Kingdom is not of this world." He told His followers, "the Kingdom of God is within you." In a spiritual sense, we are living now in the Kingdom. Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries announcing that the Kingdom of God had come-it is here. When we pray "Thy Kingdom come" we are asking God to advance and expand that Kingdom in the hearts of people, and we are anticipating the day when that Kingdom literally comes when Jesus returns. It is a Kingdom that is both present and future-it is here and now, and will one day come in fullness.
This second petition of the Lord’s prayer is a multi-faceted request…
"Thy Kingdom come" is an evangelistic prayer. We are part of the answer to this, our own prayer. For we have a role in bringing God’s Kingdom to completeness. "Thy Kingdom come" is a call for God to increase His Kingdom, to convert the hearts of unbelievers, to draw people to a saving knowledge of Christ. We need to pray for revival. Many years ago New England was the scene of the Great Awakening, a time of tremendously effectual evangelism as the Holy Spirit moved throughout this area with great power. We are seeking missionary achievement at home and abroad. God can answer this prayer through us-we can be the means for bringing people into His Kingdom as we share the Good News that Jesus saves.
"Thy Kingdom come" is an ethical prayer. When John the Baptist announced that "the Kingdom of God was at hand" he called people to repent. If we want to see God’s Kingdom evident in our lives, then we will want to live accordingly. We are confronted with a choice-to live according to Christian virtue or to follow the values of our culture. Paul describes "the Kingdom of God…as righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." By asking for the Kingdom, we’re asking God to make us holy. If the Kingdom is within us, this means we’re children of the King. We can’t pray "Thy Kingdom come" if we’re living like orphans. We can’t honestly pray for His rule over others unless want Him to rule us. "Thy Kingdom come" means we are under the Lordship of Christ.
"Thy Kingdom come" is a prophetic prayer. Believers see farther on their knees than philosophers on their tiptoes. History is headed to a climax, a Kingdom-conclusion. We place our trust in divine providence. One day Jesus will return. No one knows exactly how or when this will play out-much has been written about Biblical prophecy and the Second Coming. Good Christians differ on how things may unfold. One thing we can know for sure-God is in control of history. In the meantime, we’re to be watchful and spiritually prepared, and occupied with fulfilling the Great Commission to disciple all nations. This petition is much like the final, concluding words of the Bible: "Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
"Thy Kingdom come" is a protest prayer. We are opposing every worldview that is contrary to God. Prayer is political action and social energy. David Wells of Gordon-Conwell Seminary calls this kind of prayer a "refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal." We see this kind of prayer in what’s called the imprecatory psalms, protest songs and prayers that complain about the evil corruption in the world. God welcomes our complaints. Why don’t we pray more? We’re not angry enough. God wants us to process our strong feelings about life through prayer.