The Kingdom of God and Prayer
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
John the Baptist came on the scene proclaiming the kingdom of heaven (which is simply another way of saying, “the kingdom of God”) (Matthew 3:1-2). Jesus came on the scene announcing the arrival of the kingdom (4:17, 23). In the first recorded sermon of Jesus in our New Testaments, Jesus speaks about the kingdom of heaven eight times. At the heart of that sermon, is prayer. And, depending what you count as a request, it could be said that the first request of that prayer is focused on the kingdom. Two questions come to mind: Why is prayer so central to the kingdom? And, why is the kingdom so central to prayer?
Why is prayer so central to the kingdom?
I’ll list two reasons why prayer is central to the kingdom. First, prayer is central to the kingdom of God because the Lord and commander of the armies of heaven, the armies of the kingdom, is in heaven. This is how we communicate with and submit ourselves to the King. And our King is a warrior-king (Revelation 19:11-14). If we are going to advance the cause of the kingdom (and this is really not optional of the believer), then we must be a people in communication with the King and using the means of prayer to submit ourselves in allegiance to Him and His purposes in the world.
If we are going to advance the cause of the kingdom, then we must be a people in communication with the King and using the means of prayer to submit ourselves in allegiance to Him and His purposes in the world.
Second, and this is tied closely to the first one, prayer is central to the kingdom because of Who our King is. The coming of the kingdom of God is the final resolution to the rejection of the kingdom of God. The rejection of the Kingdom of God, though it began in the Garden of Eden, is seen quite clearly in 1 Samuel 8.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”…7 And the LORD told [Samuel]: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.” (1 Samuel 8:4-8)
When Israel asked for a King to lead them it was a rejection of the Kingship of Yahweh (the LORD) over His people. And the reason is that the people did not trust in the Lord, but wanted someone they could not only see to trust in, but someone who looked powerful and would go before them.
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19-20)
However, Yahweh had always gone before them. Apparently trusting in Yahweh was too hard. It required faith. It required submission to His ways. Kings only required heavy taxes and power over their sons and daughters (1 Samuel 8:11-18). That, they presumed, was much easier. We see this, for instance, just a little further down in the story.
The power of this kingdom is quite often demonstrated in suffering, in sacrifice, and in what appears to be weakness in the eyes of the world.
Prayer is central to the kingdom of God because it is the Lord who goes before us, and our battles are not physical battles of earthly might, but spiritual battles of spiritual might. The power of this kingdom is quite often demonstrated in suffering, in sacrifice, and in what appears to be weakness in the eyes of the world. Our Lord has gone before us into the battle as He went to the cross. We will need to submit to Him in prayer in order to bring about kingdom advance. This will require us to understand the ways that we are called to suffer, sacrifice, and lay down our own lives.
Why is the kingdom so central to prayer?
Now to the second question. The kingdom is central to prayer, because prayer is retaliation against the way things are in this fallen world. Prayer is a rejection of what appears to be. Prayer is, like the persistent widow who kept going to the unjust judge pleading for justice, unwilling to accept things the way they are, and insists that Christ is the ruler over all (the kingdom of God) and that His rule is just and right.
Prayer is retaliation against the way things are in this fallen world.
The kingdom is central to prayer because we are to seek first the kingdom of God – His justice and making things right in the world – and the first means by which we seek the kingdom is prayer. Why? Because our trust is in the Lord to bring about His justice. Our trust is not in politicians. Our trust is not in the sword. Our trust is not in our ability to win an argument. Our trust is not in our bank account. Our trust is not in chariots or horses, tanks or walls, our trust is in the Lord our God. And He reigns in heaven over every other power in heaven, on earth, and even under the earth (Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9-10). Prayer is not about getting Christ to do the bidding of our kingdoms, but about submitting ourselves to do the bidding of His kingdom through His ways.
Prayer is not about getting Christ to do the bidding of our kingdoms, but about submitting ourselves to do the bidding of His kingdom through His ways.
We gather as a church every time there are five Wednesdays in a month, on that 5th Wednesday for a time of prayer and worship. Tonight (on the day I am posting this), we are gathering from 7:30-9:00. If you are in the Tampa Bay area, consider joining in prayer.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,