So we are looking at the subject of prayer each week and we are taking the parts of Lord’s Prayer or each phrase every Sunday. The Lord’s Prayer is filled with the concepts that you need to know the rest of the Bible in order to know and use in your prayer life. So this morning we are looking at the phrase “Thy Kingdom Come”. But what does it mean to pray “Thy Kingdom Come”?
So this morning I am going to divide this prayer into five points:
Why is it important to pray “Your Kingdom Come”?
What is the Kingdom of God?
What is the Kingdom of God like?
How does the Kingdom of God come?
What are we really asking for when we pray “Your Kingdom Come”?
Now let’s jump directly into my first point.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PRAY “YOUR KINGDOM COME”?
Clearly, the kingdom of God is a major theme in the Bible. By the way, Matthew uses the expression "kingdom of heaven" (over thirty times) rather than "kingdom of God" partly because he was writing primarily to Jews who had certain misgivings about using the name of God in speech. So he often used the “Kingdom of heaven” rather than the “Kingdom of God”.
The expression "kingdom of God" occurs sixty-five times in the New Testament, primarily in the first three Gospels and the Book of Acts. Though both John and Paul use the expression, it is not theirs favorite (John 3:3, 5; Gal 5:21; Col 4:11; 2 Thess 1:5).
Reading the gospels, particularly the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, will underline for us how central the message of the kingdom of God was to our Lord Jesus Christ and the early church.
Matthew introduces Jesus public ministry by saying, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people" (Matt 4:23).
If we were to ask what is central to His message, Matthew writes again: "From that time on Jesus began to preach, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matt 4:17).
Luke is even more pointed as to the purpose of Jesus' mission: "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent" (Luke 4:43).
Luke informs us that during the forty-day period following the resurrection and ascension, Jesus "spoke about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
Not only Jesus, Luke further tells us that the early church engaged in something which he describes as preaching "the good news of the kingdom of God" (Acts 8:12).
In Ephesus, Paul spent three months in the synagogue, "arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God" (Acts 19:8), as he did later in Rome (Acts 28:23), adding that for two years "boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:31).
Then, the question remains, “What is the kingdom of God?”
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD?
The broad definition of God’s kingdom simply refers to His sovereign rule over everything in both the spiritual and physical realms. “God is the King of all the earth.... God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne” (Ps. 47:7-8). “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty.... Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting” (Ps. 93:1, 2). When we speak of God’s reign in this sense, it cannot increase or decrease, for it is based on God’s nature and character. Therefore, God’s kingdom in this sense cannot “come.” It is always here.
But, the second petition deals with the salvific kingdom, or kingdom of grace, established by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Let me explain little bit here: This kingdom arrived with the coming of Christ, who urged his hearers to repent because the “kingdom of God is at hand.” Christians are now part of that kingdom. As Paul stated in Colossians 1:13, “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son”. Thus, even though we await the full expression of God’s kingdom that will come in glory and power at the return of Christ, we are at this time living under the reign of God as his people—we are citizens of that kingdom. In other words, the kingdom of God has been inaugurated but not yet consummated.
The kingdom has already come with the coming of Jesus. He has already been given all authority in heaven and on earth. But we are still to pray, “Your kingdom come.” Why? Because on earth, there are still those who do not submit to His rule. When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are praying for the continued extension of God’s reign on earth. We are praying for God to convert the hearts of His enemies, bringing them to confess Jesus as Lord. We are praying that He puts those who refuse to submit beneath His feet (Ps. 110). We are praying for the coming of the day when all evil, all sin, and all rebellion against God is finally eradicated.
When Jesus declares that the kingdom of God has come and yet that it is coming, He is saying that the prophesied last act in the drama of redemption has begun but that it has not yet reached its conclusion.
The gospel is itself, above all, the announcement that God’s promised rule has now begun in and through the work of Jesus the Messiah...so the disciples are thus encouraged to pray that what was begun in the ministry of Jesus, what they have now begun to participate in, may be experienced in all its fullness.
Then, the next question that arise is:
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE?
Augustine, the bishop of Hippo in the fifth century, addressed what is the Kingdom of God like and what is the Kingdom of Man, in his book, The City of God, written after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Augustine suggested that the Christian must understand that there are two cities in the world. The first city is the City of God. This city is God’s not merely because he resides there but because his character and authority define it. It is ordered according to the rule and reign of God’s law. Thus in the City of God, everything is exactly as God would have it to be. The longing of every Christian is to live in that city.
By God’s grace and the power of the gospel, Paul indicated that we have already been made citizens of the City of God (Phil. 3:20). This citizenship is given to us by divine promise, though we do not yet reside there. Until we do, every Christian lives in and experiences quite a different city—the City of Man. Jesus Christ is Lord and ultimately sovereign, yet he is also patient and allows human beings to exercise moral responsibility.
As a result, the City of Man is not as it should be. Unlike the City of God, the City of Man is characterized by selfishness, ungodliness, conflict, and strife. The City of Man is temporary—both conditioned and created. And he warned the church not to confuse the one for the other. The warning remains for the church today.
Augustine also argued that both cities are characterized by a primary love. The love of man animates the City of Man, even as the love of God animates the City of God. The problem with the love that animates the City of Man is that it is self-absorbed and full of selfish ambition.
That is what exactly we see in the teaching of Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount. He talks about two kingdoms patterns or operating systems. Let’s look into that. Let’s read, Luke chapter 6:20-26. Before we discuss what is the Kingdom of God like, let’s see what is not.
If we read verses 24 to 26, it says, Woe to you -
Who are rich - power
Who are full - material comfort
Who laugh - success, (the word laugh in Greek is gloat)
When all people speak well of you - recognition
These are not wrong in itself, but when they become your priorities and you are only living for it. When you are making this thing as your Kingdom. When your rule of life or operating system are these things. Then, woe to you or sorry for you.
Now on the contrary, what is the Kingdom of God like? Verses 20-23
Blessed are you-
Who are poor (Matt 5:3 - poor in spirit - spiritually poor) - Luke 18:9ff - Tax-Collector
Who are hungry (Matt. 5:6 - and thirsty for righteousness) - weak
Who weep now
Who are excluded
Verse 22: On account of the Son of Man.
God’s kingdom is essentially his reign over his people for their good and his glory. God’s reign is not just his absolute sovereignty; it is also a redemptive reign that transforms hearts and change of our priority in life and creates obedience.
HOW DOES THE KINGDOM OF GOD COME?
This leads to a further question: According to Scripture, how does the kingdom of God come? Many horribly wrong answers to that question have been given in history.
Theological liberals in the early twentieth century argued that the kingdom of God arrived through moral reform and social justice. This view, sometimes called the “social gospel” and they saw the kingdom of God as something humanity itself could achieve through social action.
Theological conservatives have sometimes also made the mistake in thinking that Christians can usher in the kingdom through political action and cultural influence. The problem with this way of thinking is, of course, that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Political power and cultural influence are not unimportant, but they can never change the hearts of sinners nor provide the forgiveness of sins.
The Bible teaches that God’s kingdom only comes as God’s people preach God’s Word, with the help of God’s Spirit, that produces life and obedience. To use the language of Paul, God’s Word and Spirit change the hearts of sinners such that they are delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:13).
As Philip Ryken put it, “The kingdom comes mainly through proclamation, through the announcement that Christ, who was crucified, is now King. . . . The only way people ever come into God’s kingdom is by hearing his heralds proclaim a crucified king.” That is the good news. That is the gospel.
That’s why we are to preach the gospel. That’s why Jesus preached the gospel. That’s why the early church preached the Gospel.
Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations (jatis), and then the end will come”
And Paul writes in Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” but in verse 14, it says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” of the Kingdom.
This is why we are all called to go and preach the gospel to the nations. Are we praying for His Kingdom to Come? Are we preaching the Gospel? Are we preaching Christ to our family, friends or neighbors? He became poor for us. He was hungry and thirsty for us. He wept for us. He was rejected for us by His Father. So that, through Him we will become rich and full. So that we can laugh and be accepted by the Father. Are we preaching this good news to others?
WHAT ARE WE REALLY ASKING?
So what are we asking when we say “your kingdom come”? We are asking for something wonderful and something dangerous at the same time.
When we pray for God's Kingdom to come, We are praying to see Christ honored as king in every human heart. We are praying to see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. This is important, because, in and of ourselves, we cannot cause the kingdom to come. In fact, only the sovereign grace of God has the power to break through the darkness and establish his reign by changing the hearts of rebellious sinners.
We must also understand, however, that when we pray for God’s kingdom to come that this begins with each one of us. By praying “your kingdom come,” Jesus teaches us that we are ultimately meant to value God’s agenda, not our own. We must ask ourselves if we are doing God’s will. As Christians, we are those who claim to have already submitted to the lordship of Christ. We are already citizens of His kingdom, and He is already our King. But are we faithful subjects? Or are we rebellious? If we are to pray in the way our Lord instructed, we must be those who live in the way our Lord instructed.
This petition also carries great hope. Our God will come to save us and bring us to know the fullness of his grace in the final revelation of his kingdom. We are praying to see a New Jerusalem, a new heaven, and a new earth, a new creation.
This is indeed a radical prayer. We must not take this petition lightly.