What it means to pray for God's kingdom

by Sep 30, 2015

What it means to pray for God's kingdom

by Sep 30, 2015

They’re just three short words in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. Your. Kingdom. Come.

When we pray it, we’re praying for God’s reign to expand on earth as people are transformed by his grace. As J.I. Packer says, “God’s kingdom is not a place, but rather a relationship. It exists wherever people enthrone Jesus as lord of their lives.”

And the first place that needs to happen is in my own life. So when I pray “Your kingdom come,” there are specific things I’m praying for my heavenly father to do.

I’m praying for God to make me repentant. That’s what Jesus urged at the beginning of his ministry: “Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'” (Matt 4:17). I’m saying, “Father, give me greater awareness of my sin. I don’t see it enough! I have too many blind spots. And Father, give me greater sorrow over my sin. It doesn’t bother me enough. Give me greater disgust over my sin.

I’m praying for God to make me humble. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Just what it means to be poor in money. Like being stripped of the material things I’ve built up that I lean on for security, and identity and fulfillment and contentment, being poor in spirit means I’ve been stripped of all the spiritual things I’ve built up for myself that you lean on for security, and identity and fulfillment and contentment. So I’m saying, “Father, make me poor in pride. Strip away the things that make me feel smug about myself. And make me poor in selfishness. Take away my sense of entitlement that makes me feel like the world is here to serve me. And make me poor in insecurity. Kill that part of me that needs to be respected and recognized.

I’m praying for God to make me dependent. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matt 6:31-33). If I want the kingdom in my life, Jesus says I need to seek it first, rather than food and clothes. That doesn’t mean I should walk around naked and hungry, it means I should pursue Jesus first, and depend on him for my food and my clothes. So I’m saying, “Father, don’t let me love my food, clothes, or anything else in this world more than I love you. Don’t let me get worried and anxious about my food and clothes. Don’t let me think I have to do shady things to get my food and clothes … or my new car, or my tax refund, or my building permit.”

I’m praying for God to make me joyful. Jesus said, ”The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matt 13:44). There will come times when I’ll need to give things up to get more of the kingdom. I’ll need to sell all that I have. So I’m saying, “Father, make me ready to do that, and don’t let me get salty about it. Keep me joyful when I have to give up my free time or my money. Keep me joyful when I know I’m going to lose a relationship because I can’t be a part of something that dishonors you.”

I’m praying for God to make me forceful. Jesus said, “The good news of the kingdom of God is
preached, and everyone forces his way into it” (Luke 16:16). Another way to translate that is, “the kingdom is gained by forceful people. The kingdom isn’t for weaklings. It’s time to man up! I’m so weak. I start whining whenever things get a little bit inconvenient. I want to give up whenever things get a little bit hard. So I’m always praying, “Father make me forceful! Make me tough!”

That’s how I’ll see more of the kingdom in my life. That’s when I’ll see more of Jesus. And that’s what I want more than anything else.