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Biblical Prayer - Your Kingdom Come

DEVOTIONAL - BIBLICAL PRAYER - YOUR KINGDOM COME

By Ted Schroder

The Lord's Prayer is a prayer of liberation. It is the cry of an oppressed people for deliverance from a cruel tyranny. It is the yearning of an enslaved people for freedom. It is the desperate desire of a victim of abuse for safety. It is the plea of the sick for healing, and the rejected for acceptance. It is the longing of the exile for home. All these things Israel experienced as it awaited the coming of the Messiah. That was why Isaiah prophesied,

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" (Isaiah 52:7)

So when Jesus first began his ministry in Galilee he proclaimed the good news of God: "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15) The kingdom of God came with Jesus. In his life and ministry the kingdom of God arrived. Jesus is the king of the whole earth through whom God will rule. God had arrived to deliver his people from bondage, to liberate them, not from foreign oppressors as they thought, but from evil, guilt, fear of death and rebellion against his rule. Therefore the proper response was to repent, to turn one's life around, and accept the freedom God was offering in Christ's salvation and service. This inner turning or process of being turned, accompanied a deep change at the core of one's being.

The kingdom of God was ushered in by Jesus in his first sermon in Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18)

When we pray, "your kingdom come", we are praying that what Jesus proclaimed, taught, and accomplished through his death and resurrection, would become a reality in our lives. We are praying that he would reign in our lives, and give us the victory over anything that would prevent us from living in the fullness of God's life..

What does the coming of God's kingdom in our lives through Jesus as Victor, Liberator and Lord mean for us? St. Paul tells us that the "kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17) When we pray for the coming of God's kingdom into our lives, we are praying for these three gifts of grace. Righteousness is the gift of being made right with God through the atoning death of Christ. Peace is the gift of access to God by Christ's sacrificial act of reconciliation. Joy is the gift of resurrection hope, as the work of the Christ's Spirit is made a present reality.

But despite these gifts of salvation we still experience spiritual poverty and real personal pain. Liberation from a cruel tyranny doesn't eliminate or banish the effects of a long occupation or exile. There is much rebuilding to be accomplished. Recovery takes a long time - a life time. That is why we need to pray continually, "Your kingdom come." The kingdom of God comes incrementally throughout our lives. There are stages of recovery we must go through. Our liberation takes a lifetime. We have work to do in our personalities, in our desires, and in our relationships. We continue to be held in bondage by those aspects of our lives that prevent the kingdom of God coming into fruition.

Let me list some of them. There are our personality defects: our introversion, our defensiveness, our quirks, our temptation to criticize others, to look at the bad not the good, to tear down people rather than build them up, to be quick to judge before we know all the facts, to blame others or circumstances for our own failings, to excuse ourselves, and be full of self-pity; to be so wrapped up in what we want to say that we don't listen or take an interest in others; to be self-righteous, convinced we know all the answers, that we are better, smarter, richer, prettier, and can therefore look down on others; our proneness to exaggeration, and to say what is not true, to be boastful of our achievements; our disorganization, our unpunctuality and rudeness; our inability to relax, and our need always to be doing something; our lack of imagination and spontaneity, fear of taking risks or leaving our comfort zone; our tendency of wanting to be in control, our gullibility or our skepticism; and our ingratitude. Our personality defects continue to cause us and others pain rather than afford us and them pleasure.

There are our desires: we want to accomplish a number of worthwhile goals but we are frustrated by the conflicting demands on our resources of time, money, and health. We complain, and get depressed by our seeming inability to do what we want to do. Our emotions enslave us rather than release us.

There are our relationships with others who disappoint us, or who oppose us. We seem at odds with people we expected better from. Instead of being encouraged by them we feel used by them. They do not seem to be interested in us but only in how we can entertain them. These relationships are oppressive rather than liberating.

When we pray "Your kingdom come" we are praying that Jesus would liberate us from these so that we can become whole: better, purer people.

What are we acknowledging each time we pray, "Your Kingdom come"? We are responding to God's invitation to enter his kingdom.

Jesus said we must accept God's invitation when it is given. He told the parable of the man who prepared a great banquet and invited many guests. He sent his servant to those he had invited, "Come, for everything is now ready." But they made excuses, and said they couldn't come. When the servant reported their excuses the master became angry and ordered his servant to invite the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. He sent him to go to the roads and country lane and invite more people so that his house would be full. "I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet." (Luke 14:15-24) We must not put off the invitation to feast at God's table, to fellowship with him now, if we want to feast with him in heaven. Jesus is telling us to respond to God's call now to become part of his kingdom. If we want God's liberating kingdom to come into our lives we must respond to the invitation. If we don't we will regret it.

When we pray, "Your kingdom come" we are desiring that we will put it first. Jesus said, "Seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness." (Matthew 6:33) We have to get our priorities right. Those who were invited had other worthy and important things to do, but they were not as important as responding to God's call. We can miss out on God's kingdom if we don't respond immediately. We all have many things to do in life, but we need to put this first.

Results at first will seem infinitesimal. Jesus said that God's kingdom starts small and unnoticed. He told the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31,32) to illustrate that the kingdom of God begins minutely in a person's life. It begins with tiny acts of unselfish love and gratitude. It begins with humility. It doesn't require grand acts or magnificent gestures. The kingdom of God grows in us secretly and almost imperceptibly when we apply ourselves to prayer and following Jesus. "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest is come." (Mark 4:26-29)

No one would have thought that the life of a Jewish carpenter in an obscure part of the Roman Empire would attract much notice. Yet that seed of God's kingdom grew into the most powerful spiritual movement this world and history has ever seen. The coming of God's kingdom in Jesus has affected more people than we can count. Yet it all starts in the life of one person at a time, beginning with the seed of God's Word.

It is hard for us to see the results of our prayers. Jesus reminds us that there is a secret work of God going on in our souls which we cannot see. Just because the farmer cannot see the growth of the seed, doesn't mean that it isn't growing. The kingdom of God grows within us. We facilitate the coming of God's kingdom when we nurture the interior life, and work on our inward attitudes through reflection. It is not what is going on around us that is important but what is going on inside us. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20,21)

This can also be translated that the kingdom is "among you" even when you cannot see it, just as it was present on earth in the Person and ministry of Jesus. People could not see the kingdom in Jesus when he came.

When we pray, "Your kingdom come" we are committing ourselves to doing whatever it takes to give us the victory over anything that is not of God. This involves waging war against the enemy. If we want the kingdom of God to come in our lives we must be prepared to pay the price, to win this battle in the power of Christ. We have to choose sides in this spiritual war. We cannot serve two masters. We must choose between God and mammon, between serving in God's kingdom by following Jesus, or by being a slave to Self's kingdom by following our selfish pride. Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:44-46) We are recognizing the value of what we are fighting for with Christ. We are investing our life, and our future in this conflict. That is why Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23,24) Praying, "Your kingdom come" is acknowledging that everything we have is on loan from God, to be used in his service. When his kingdom slowly comes into our lives we will be gradually liberated, free to enjoy the love he longs for us to experience.

END

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