We are in week four of a series of sermons on prayer in which we are asking why and how should we pray. Why: dependence on the good provision of our Heavenly Father. How: the Lord’s prayer is a pattern, offers stations or platforms on which we can base our prayers. I don’t think the Lords Prayer was give for verbatim repetition (not that it would be wrong) but rather as a guide. Last week: God’s honour = Our Father who are in heaven, hallowed be your name. God is close and capable; present and powerful; we want his to be honoured as he has revealed himself to us (his name).
This week we are looking at the part of the prayer where we ask that God’s rule be extended – deeper into our own hearts and more broadly into the world and finally be complete.
Read Luke 11:1-2
1. Second station: God’s rule
Matt 6:10 “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (NIV).
Matt 6:10 “Set the world right; Do what’s best– as above, so below”. (MSG)
I believe that the two statements in this part of the prayer are saying basically the same thing, but are giving a depth to the petition. The prayer is that life on earth may be more like life in heaven where God’s rule is full and complete.
2. The kingdom of God
For many people the Kingdom of God is a difficult concept to understand. And all the more for us nowadays because people don’t live in kingdoms anymore. The two systems of government we know are democracy and dictator. In neither of those is there a benevolent (good) ruler who takes responsible care of his subjects.
However, this is the backdrop of the story of the Bible. In Genesis God is the good ruler of Eden where his people (Adam and Eve) live in prosperity and fullness. Through the Old Testament God leads his people through the word of the prophets and the sword of the king. He provides them a land called the Promised Land where he dwells among then first in the tabernacle and then in the temple. He gives them certain ceremonies and celebrations to show their distinctiveness and provide graciously for them.
In the New Testament Christ comes at the very presence of God, he shows the grace and love of God, but also the reality of a life that is fully under God’s control. The disciples keep on ask when the Kingdom will be restored – but the kingdom now is God’s rule in your heart, the presence of God is in us but the Spirit as we are built into a spiritual temple and live as the body of Christ. It is not in one place, but wherever there are true believers in Christ.
And if all that just confused you completely: just think of the song we sung: Jesus we enthrone you. It is the concept of God being enthroned on our heats.
1. Kingdom come: in my life
We are asking that God would sit more fully on the throne of our hearts. Instead of asking God to get in line with our program for our lives (God can you please…), we pray that God’s will / purpose may prevail.
You may very well than ask, and it is would be a fair question: what is God’s will so that I may pray it? Should I pray to get the job or not get the job; to find the keys or not find the keys? Before I answer that: I believe God wants us to pray for change in ourselves where he clearly HAS revealed his will. Question: how often do you pray for patience or humility or compassion? These are the kinds of prayers that we can be sure God will answer – and it scares us to death.
- If you pray for patience perhaps you will lose your keys? I had something happen this meek where I had done my best to do what was right and it still turned out against what I wanted. And I really felt like I needed to accept that God has a reason, and whether or not I even find out the reason I need to say, Lord Your will be done.
- If you pray for humility God will take you through an experience that humble you. I was driving this week and I saw a guy go through a red light where he could have pulled up and stopped. What did I think? Later that day I was in a bit of a rush and the light turned orange, I probably could have stopped but I accelerated because I was late! I’m not justifying the one because of the other – God pointed out the hypocrisy in my heart – in my pride I was quick to judge others until I faced the same test!
All I am saying is that there is plenty of ‘may your will be done’. Do you get irritated or angry, are you judgmental or opinionated, are you harsh and brash, are you envious or greedy or malicious or fork-tongued or arrogant. The Word of God is full of verses that show us explicitly what the will of God is for our lives. That is the Kingdom coming…
When it comes to choices that are not explicitly mandated in the bible – marriage, job, where to live, etc. then I believe we should pray with a sensitivity to the Spirit’s guidance and trust our sanctified hearts.
2. Kingdom come: in other’s lives (Christian and not yet Christian)
We are asking that God sit (more fully) on the throne of other’s hearts too. This may simply mean that we pray for those whom we know that are not Christian, that they may see and receive the truth of the gift of salvation in Christ. Ideas for how to pray for unbelievers
It could also mean praying for God’s reign to extend more fully into someone else’s life.
Imagine you are working with someone who has a critical spirit – they only see the bad and never acknowledge the good. It could be a boss, a colleague or and employee. How should we respond?
- One way is to get angry quietly; let your frustration simmer; slowly become disengaged and dismissive of the person – cynical
- Another way is to confront it. It is possible that, because of your position in the employment structure, you cannot. But confronting could also end in a, “well if you were better at your job then I would have not be so critical” (which is just more criticism).
We should commit it to God in prayer. It might be helpful to write down an honest prayer of what you want in the situation. In the short term it may feel like you are continually scratching in an open would, kind of a helpless response, but the point of prayer is that it shifts the focus from us changing things to God changing things. It may be the first time you pray for a person at work. And when you pray for (not against them) your heart can start to change. If you’re praying well your prayer will extend further than ‘make them less critical’ to:
- ‘Lord if there is something in their lives that has precipitated a critical manner (hurt, insecurity, pressure) then bring them relief;
- ‘Lord, thank you for the boss/colleague they are and help them be good at their job so that we can all be better together’. The thankfulness changes the orientation to become more gracious rather than self-focused in pity.
- AND THEN, perhaps God will lead you to venture a prayer like this: ‘Lord, do I have a critical manner too? (usually we see our worst own errors in other) Lord, is there a log in my own eye that you would have me remove first before I say anything about another.
This is how the gospel works – as we believe the gospel we also become it: thankful, offering undeserved grace, humbly enduring. That sounds like the work of God through Christ in us. This is the Kingdom coming…
And over time and with God’s guidance and grace you may find the right time and words to address your concern. But it will certainly be a far different scene after prayer.
3. Kingdom come: forever
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry Mark 1:15 record’s Jesus as saying, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is at hand” = in Christ coming he has initiated the rulership of God. But there will be a second coming of Christ when that rule reaches its completion. We are therefore praying for the perfect kingdom of love and justice, of peace and power, of freedom and glory, of beauty and grace to come. There will be no more hunger and hurt, no more suffer and pain. The wrongs of the past will be set right – justice will be done. Every unrepentant thug and bully and warlord and dictator and horrible boss and abuser and, violent batterer will be thrown down and those who love and serve the king will be together with their father forever – glorious, resurrected, perfect and full.
In this sense when we pray “Your Kingdom come” we are asking that God would hasten the day, that he would all come into that kingdom and enjoy the full and deep privileges of the children of God.
Read Luke 11:1-4
- Open you meeting by reading a Psalm (any one will do) and use it to reflect on God’s name (character) and allow that to prepare your time of meeting.
Christians struggle to grasp the concept of the Kingdom of God
- Why do you think this is?
- What is your understanding of the Kingdom of God?
- How does the song, “Jesus, we enthrone you” help?
- Why is this song not enough (how is the Kingdom of God bigger than personal Lordship)?
suggested three ways in which we could pray for the kingdom to come in our
lives: personal, others, forever.
- Spend time discussing each of these areas: how have or do you pray for God’s kingdom to come?
- What rhythm or pattern would you like to develop in response to this text?
- Close with a time of prayer