He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
Most great orators or public speakers have a ‘big phrase’. They are memorable ‘pictures in words’ that capture everything they are about. So Churchill kept talking about ‘Victory’, Margaret Thatcher banged on about ‘No turning back’ and Martin Luther King had ‘A dream’.
Jesus’ big picture phrase was the Kingdom. It could be either ‘Kingdom of God’ or ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, but it was always ‘Kingdom’. He used it in his parables about wheat and fields to talk about the impact of his mission; he used it when looking forward to his resurrection and second coming; he used it to describe the impact of his healings and exorcisms; and here he uses the Kingdom idea as the place to begin in our prayers.
Everyone listening to all of Jesus’ kingdom talk would have clicked with it straightaway, because they all knew about kings. Everybody had a king. The king demanded constant obedience, took everyone’s money in huge tax demands and ruled over the whole town, village, and valley – the whole domain of a person’s life. The king was often hard, unforgiving, cruel, greedy and demanding.
The king that Jesus talked about was the exact opposite of all of this. His was a king who was very forgiving; who healed and set people free, ‘as I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come to you’ (Luke 11: 20); who invited his followers to sit down and eat and drink with him, ‘at my table in my Kingdom’ (Luke 22: 30). This is why Christians are always singing or worshipping the King –
‘Reign in Me’
‘The Splendour of the King’
‘The King of Love My Shepherd’
Perhaps the biggest difference of all is that while the kings of this earth impose or force their power and rule onto us, the divine King invites us to accept his rule.
Now I quite like the idea of God being my helper, my guide, my saviour. But I like to be my own king. I like to rule over my money, my lifestyle, my family, my time. I like to be in charge of my life, because it is all mine. So to make God my king, to hand it over to him, let him make the decisions and me obey him… ‘Dodgy’.
When I pray ‘Your Kingdom come’ I am praying for something to happen in the world, I am praying for something to develop amongst all his people in the church but more than anything I am praying that he might be King of my life.
Why don’t you stop right now and think of the next few days of your life stretching out in front of you. Work, faith, money, relaxation, friendships, they are all there, and then to pray.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Your Kingdom come,
My life become your place.
Come into what I am doing,
Become my King,
And let me be your servant.