The Lords Prayer Pt3
Every day of our lives there is a competition between autonomy – making our own independent decisions and authority – accepting the need to submit to another, to be regulated by someone other than me. This battle between authority and autonomy is a test of our allegiance: when push comes to shove, will I choose me or bend the knee? Our allegiance is tested every day in significant as well as trivial ways.
Will you obey the posted traffic laws or make your own autonomous decisions about the best way to drive? Will you obey your parents, or make your own autonomous decisions about what to do? When your coach says wear your red uniform, but bring your white will you obey or make your own autonomous decision to leave your white uniform at home since you haven’t had to use it once yet?
When the professor says the assignment is due on Tuesday will you listen or make your own autonomous decision to do other things with your time and expect that you’ll be able to talk your way into turning it in on Thursday?
Do you live by the authorities that have been appointed or by an autonomy that you have asserted? That is the central question to life and especially the Christian life.
We have been examining the Lord’s Prayer together and have come to the section about God’s kingdom – “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” It’s a prayer that recognizes at least two things: God has a kingdom, and this is not it.
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we recognize that there is something wrong with this world – it could be much better, and it is not, so we pray: Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Just this week events in Florida reminded us in a tragic way that this is not Heaven. We have not arrived. The world is not a perfect place.
But before we talk about mental health or assault weapons or campus violence, let’s talk about motives. In the midst of all the chaos and coverage, while heartaches are turned into headlines, and each side begins leveraging tragedy into talking points, remember that most of the things people want to talk about and wonder about this catastrophe are symptoms – is anyone willing to talk about the disease?
You see, professors, politicians, and pundits will fill the air with studies and stories and statistics with recommendations and calls for reform, but they’re all dealing with secondary issues because they’re incapable of addressing the deeper issue, which is: why was the desire to murder 17 teenagers ever a desire in the heart and mind of another human being?
If you want an explanation of what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I will tell you the root of it all: a young man choose to follow a path of hatred and selfishness instead of submitting to the authority of a loving God who then tells him to love others not kill them.
What you saw happen in Parkland Florida this week is an example, an extreme example to be sure, but an example none the less of what happens when one human being reverses the Lord’s prayer and violently insists, my kingdom come, my will be done, I will have my way in this life instead of submitting to God or the authorities He has established in life.
We may need gun control laws, we may need to talk about mental health, we may need to do a better job enforcing our existing laws – but why? WHY do we need to consider any of those things? Because we live on a fallen planet among fallen people. There is a spiritual reality behind all of the headlines and there are consequences to casting off the authority of God. We, as Christians, must ensure that we never lose sight of this fact.
And so, Jesus taught us to pray, to submit ourselves to God, to reject our constant desire for autonomy and to exist in a wonderful, harmonious, dependency on God. He said:
Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Now, the first thing I want to point out is the order of things in this prayer. Notice that there is an intentional order and flow. First, we recognize that there is a God. But what kind of God? One we are told to identify as Father – not “the Terrible One” or “The Invincible” or even “the Awesome and Majestic one.” No. We are told to call upon God as a child calling upon their parent, in a relationship of dependence, familiarity, and love.
And then, immediately we are encouraged to remember the hallowed name of God – that He is Holy and Awesome, and terrible and invincible – He is categorically distinct from all else and deserving of reverence and praise. Our Father is a Holy Father.
And then we pray – Your kingdom come, Your will be done in an act of submission to our Holy Father. We say, I prefer you. I want You. Have Your way.
And we do that before we ever get to making our request for daily bread. Before we present our needs, we recognize that the reason we have such needs is because this is not God’s kingdom. There is a difference between the life we experience and the life we desire – so “may Your kingdom come,” because I understand that things could be better if it did. And You deserve to have it so.
God’s kingdom is, essentially, God’s rule and reign. When we pray for God’s kingdom to come we are praying that He would be recognized as sovereign over all things – that He would always have His way. That we, and those around us, including 19-year-olds with weapons, would desire nothing more than to surrender wholly to God and live as He commands; that we would not rebel against Him but would conform to Him. Your kingdom come.
I don’t know if you realize it or not, but this is a limited edition prayer. We will not pray this way forever. Because God’s will IS done in Heaven, we’re asking that it would also be done on earth.
Life on this planet started out that way – when God first made the world, His kingdom was come and His will was done. He made the world and everything in it and the Bible says it was perfect. It was good. Very good. But God also allowed the possibility of rebellion and Adam and Eve took Him up on it. He told them don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they looked at, decided it looked pretty good to eat, and believed that doing so would make them wise and went for it.
They knew what God had said and they threw off His authority, asserted their own autonomy and said “our kingdom come, our will be done.” That is what the Bible calls sin. And as a result of it, humanity was cast out of God’s perfect kingdom. Which makes sense, right? Because if you’re going to rebel against the King it just makes sense that He wouldn’t let you keep swimming in the royal pool, or show up for meals in the grand hall, right?
So, yes, God removed them from the Garden of Eden, but He also promised that He would make a way of return for anyone who would stop rebelling and return in submission to Him, for anyone who would exchange autonomy for allegiance.
That plan began to unfold as God grabbed a man named Abraham and used him and his grandkids and great-grandkids to form the nation of Israel. God claimed this family, which became a nation, as His own and gave them rules for how to be the Kingdom of God on earth, a special nation among all the others, one ruled and led by God.
And God told them, if they would obey Him, worship Him, submit, surrender, and follow Him, if they would live as loyal citizens of His kingdom, He would bless them. It was, in some ways, an offer to re-establish many of the blessings, protection, and provision Adam and Eve had enjoyed, though now it would be on a fallen planet surrounded by fallen nations.
Israel had the chance to pray: Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. The problem was, the people and leaders of Israel repeatedly followed the well worn path of Adam and Eve – they knew what God required of them, knew what they were supposed to do and not do, but they kept choosing autonomy over authority. They kept choosing to do what they wanted to do instead of what God had said.
And eventually, just like He threw Adam and Eve out of the Garden, God let the nation of Israel – His chosen Kingdom, be defeated and captured by the Assyrians and the Babylonians and taken, violently, into captivity – and if those names sound familiar, it’s because they’re not just in the Bible, they’re in your history books. This was real life tragedy at one point. Mean people showed up in their cities killed their men, mistreated their women, took their children into slavery. Blood was shed and bodies were broken. It was front-page news at one time, just like Parkland Florida is front-page news today. When people pursue their own Godless kingdoms, there is often pain and human suffering involved.
So, Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden for their rebellion and the people of Israel were driven from the Promised Land for their rebellion, but God remained merciful and continued to work His plan that would make reconciliation possible for rebels.
And so, He sent His Son. Luke’s Gospel tells us He “came to seek and to save that which was lost.” He came to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God and to call people into it. He came to tell people to repent of their autonomous ways and submit and surrender to God instead. And then, He gave His own life as an act of sacrificial atonement – a holy offering to God – the One who was always entirely loyal to God, suffered and died so that those who resist and rebel might be forgiven for their spiritual war crimes and welcomed into God’s holy kingdom.
And now, for those who will come to Christ and say, “I have been a rebel. I have resisted God. I have ignored God. I have attempted to make my own way in this life, and to make my own choices.” And will ask: “Will You forgive me?” To anyone who makes that confession and request He says Yes. Yes. A thousand times Yes. And He offers a complete pardon.
But that’s not all. He also breathes new life into us. And He comes to live inside of us. He once wrote the rules of His Kingdom on tablets of stone – the Ten Commandments, but now He writes them upon our hearts. The Christian is guided by God’s unchanging Word – the Scriptures, but also has a real connection to the Living God who walks with us daily, comforting, guiding, and shepherding us personally.
With the nation of Israel you had a government that was framed by God and a nation established by God, but you still had hearts that were far from God. Today we have hearts surrendered to God, but no nation, no political force, there are no geographic boundaries for the Kingdom of Christ, just citizenship in a globally dispersed, eternal kingdom that we experience in limited measure.
We have the Church but no king and Christians hold dual-citizenship – we are members of the Kingdom of Heaven and citizens of the United States, or Mexico, or Switzerland, or Korea or wherever you’re from. And that’s not a bad thing – because God’s kingdom was once isolated into a small section of what we call the Middle East, but today His Kingdom of Christians in the Church is spread across the world. Today He is building an international coalition of surrendered worshippers from every tribe, tongue, and nation. The UN has nothing on the Church.
Of course, we look forward to the day when Jesus will establish the fullness of His kingdom. The day when God will establish a present kingdom, like that of the Old Testament, but built with the surrendered hearts of New Testament. We look forward to the day when He will reassert His authority over every sphere of life and life will be the way it was always meant to be.
When we pray “Your Kingdom come” – we are asking for that perfect time when there will be no more pain, no more wickedness, no more rebellion, no more stillborn babies, no more moms with cancer, no more drunk drivers, no more campus violence, unfaithful husbands, prejudice, discrimination, or humiliation. Not just deliverance from my own pain, but deliverance for EVERYONE in the kingdom. When we pray this way we are expressing our desire to move back to the world, and life, the way God intended it to be before we rebelled against Him.
The problem is, because we spend our lives on this earth, we spend most of our days drifting toward the temptation of autonomy. We naturally trend toward establishing our own Kingdom, writing our own laws, and making our own plans, and that’s reflected in the way most people pray.
Most people pray in an effort to get a little bit of supernatural firepower on their side. They know what they want, and they hope to achieve it, especially if “the Big Man upstairs” or the Force, or whatever, shines down on them benevolently and saves their kingdom from the dragon.
Think about it like this: we spend most of our lives trying to stake a claim on this earth and carve out a little kingdom for ourselves. We work hard so we can enjoy the occasional feast in our own great hall. We design a big castle to protect all our stuff, and we start building it if and when we can – we draft out our ideas about what a “successful” life and career and family would look like and we start gathering our bricks and stacking them together.
But it’s not always easy to do, it seems there are plenty of obstacles to us establishing a thriving personal kingdom. And so maybe you’ve built a watchtower and some of the walls. You’re trying your best to assert your autonomy when all of the sudden the cry comes out – DRAGON! Some big, leather winged beast is flying toward you and your little plot of land breathing flames this way and that threatening everything you’re trying to build.
There are times in life when you can see the disaster coming, you can see what you know will wipe you out, set you back 20 years in all your planning and striving and saving, or completely wreck the progress you’re about to make. You can’t trust in the walls of your Kingdom because it’s still being built, so what do you do? You realize you can’t defend your territory on your own, so you pray for deliverance! You need a great fearless knight to ride up and challenge the dragon, best him in combat and save your kingdom.
When speak in terms of such an analogy, the dragon of course, is Satan who roams the earth looking for whom he can kill and destroy. And the knight who has slain him is Jesus.
The problem is, even though Jesus can defeat the dragon and defend you, most people just want the crisis responses, they just want the immediate rescue, they don’t want to surrender to God, submit to Him, accept His authority. The last thing most people you know want to give up is their autonomy. No, once the danger has passed most people want to quickly get back to trying to do their thing – building their own kingdom instead of joining the Kingdom of God.
Oh sure, maybe they give the champion a little honor for his efforts, say some nice things on his behalf, perhaps even give him a material or financial token of their appreciation, but they’re really ready for Him to return to wherever He came from and not meddle in their affairs anymore, thank you.
But look, as a Christian we are not trying to get God to bless our kingdom, our efforts, we have surrendered our pathetic little plot and its half built castle and have asked Him to take us back to His house where we have always belonged. We no longer pray, “Lord bless my kingdom and all of my efforts,” we pray, “Your kingdom come.”
Peter encouraged Christians to be “looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12) – anticipating, longing for, the day when sin and evil and selfishness – when wrongdoing of every form is wiped away.
At the very end of the Bible in the final chapter of the book of Revelation, we find John, the Holy Spirit and the entire church praying Come, Lord Jesus Come!
Is that a prayer you can agree with? Do you really want God’s kingdom to come? Do you believe that His is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever amen?
Are you seeking alignment between what is in Heaven and your daily experience on earth? That is one of the purposes of prayer – to bring us into alignment. Every day we are living either a life of demand – my kingdom come, my will be done (and Heaven help those who get in my way), or a life of surrender – Your kingdom come, your will be done.
Every day, and multiple times a day we are faced with the choice: will I pursue, protect, and promote my name, my interests, my kingdom, or will I put God’s name, kingdom and will first instead? Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth – here and now, in my life, today – as it is in Heaven. Make what is already real there, real here and now as well.
There are incredible benefits that come from preferring and pursuing God over myself. There is a closeness and comfort that’s hard to experience when you kind of want God in some parts of your life, but you’re also trying to keep Him out of other areas. You see, the King has the right to travel all parts of His kingdom, and that includes all areas of your life. So if you’re entirely open to God, if you’re not trying to hide anything from Him, if you welcome Him into every nook and cranny and corner of your calendar, you will experience a familiarity with God and a blessing that few people know.
You will also develop a sense of confidence and clarity about your life because God does not want to hide Himself or His will from you. He does not want to keep good things from you. The Bible tells us that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Heb 11:6). And, as we will read later in this chapter, if we seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, all the other things of life, the stuff we feel a need for, will come – He says “all these things shall be added unto you.” Read through to the end of the chapter sometime.
The apostle John, one of the Twelve Disciples, later put it like this:
1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will [NOTE: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done], He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
So here is the question we all must face today: am I a loyal subject to the King? God is terrifyingly fair – if you want your will, He will let you have it. If you say I don’t want God He won’t force Himself on you. But for those who are willing to pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,” to declare allegiance to Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be His name, to choose His authority over our own autonomy, there is an invitation to an eternal kingdom. But which will you choose: what will you spend your life pursing? It’s a rather simple question, but it affects the way you look at everything – is this about me, or You God?