Thy Kingdom Come – Matthew 6:10

Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for God’s kingdom and rule to come in this world and for his will to be done in this world. This part of the prayer acknowledges the world is not as God intended it to be but also that God will do something in the future to extend his rule to this fallen world. As Craig Keener says, this is a “prayer for the desperate . . .for the broken to whom Jesus promises the blessings of the kingdom (5:3-12)” (Keener, Matthew, 220). The first disciples were desperate because they lived in a word which did not appear to be ruled by God at all. Their world was dominated by the Roman Empire, ruled by men who claimed to be divine saviors of the word.

The first disciples who heard this prayer would have understood something quite real in the prayer for God’s kingdom to come. As biblically literate Jews living under Roman rule, they really did look forward to God’s breaking into history. They passionately looked forward to God rescuing his people from the hands of Gentiles and ending the long exile of Israel.

Although we cannot know for sure, it is likely that many of the followers of Jesus, especially those who acknowledged him as the Messiah, knew the prophecies from Daniel 7 which describe a coming “son of man” who will be given authority to rule by God himself. So the first disciples knew exactly what kind of kingdom they were hoping for. They may have prayed something like this every time they paid taxes to the Roman Empire!

There was a “tension” between the belief of a future ultimate vindication, and the present vindication enjoyed because of Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus has conquered the ultimate enemies, sin and death; but he has yet to judge the world. He already rules, but he does not yet fully rule (the classic “already/not yet catchphrase). The disciples cannot they cannot bring God’s kingdom into existence by their own efforts, as Donald Hagner says, “yet they are to reflect the good news of its inauguration in and through Jesus” (Hagner, Matthew 1-13, 148).

For Christians living some 2000 years after Jesus, there is still a future aspect of this prayer. Jesus is going to come back at some point in the future at set things right. Jesus will judge righteously and vindicate his people and punish those who have flaunted his Law. Just as Christians in the first century closed prayer with maranatha, “Come Lord” (2 Cor 16:22b, Rev 22:20), so too should we have a clear expectation for the soon return of Jesus to judge this world. Although there are a range of views on how this return will happen, this belief in the return of Jesus was at the very core of early Christianity.

But this prayer is not entirely future. When Jesus rose from the dead, he did indeed begin to rule as king. When we pray for God’s will to be done we do so because Jesus rose from the dead and is reigning in our hearts right now.

If we are praying like Jesus, then we are praying that God’s rule will be established on earth. While this may take the future hope of the second coming, it must also be active in the present: We must live our lives as submissive to God’s rule here and now. The radicalness of this prayer is that Jesus prayer for God to replace the kingdoms of this world with his ultimate kingdom.

How can we incorporate our hope for the future into our prayer life? This may involve pray for the government God as set over us. But is this a “prayer for their salvation”? Or are we to pray they be replaced by people we like better? If prayer is to be God-focused, how do we orient our prayer for the future towards God and his will?

9 thoughts on “Thy Kingdom Come – Matthew 6:10

  1. There are two competing kingdoms. The kingdom of earth and the Kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of earth values treasure that decays. It is defined by darkness and money is the master. The Kingdom of heaven offers treasure that lasts. It is defined by light and God is the master. When I hear “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10) these are the things I think of. As believers we are called to live for what lasts, to be the light, and to worship God above all else. The reality is, is this is not in our nature because we live in a materialistic and stingy world. We are surrounded by darkness and it is easy to sin, but the Holy Spirit, which is alive in us, gives us a direct connection to God, who is light. Every single prayer has power, and we have to be making bold requests to God, asking him to give us a heavenly perspective. We have to remind ourselves that this earth is not our home and Jesus calls us to live like Kingdom people. McKnight writes, “for Jesus ‘kingdom’ would have meant the society of God’s people flourishing in this world under Christ as King” (179). In the world, but not a part of the world. Believers are set apart and look different from the world, we all know this, but Jesus is calling His disciples to action. McKnight says, “the highest form of loving God is longing for what most glorifies God” (179). Asking God to give us hearts that long for what is most glorifying to Him and what will best show His Kingdom on earth.

  2. The angry and even violent malfunction of politics in the USA serve as a painful reminder of our place in “this world.” In my case, I feel nearly entirely alienated from both “Red” and “Blue,” whether institutionalized in Congress or embodied philosophically in amorphous groups. “They kingdom come” nowadays brings to mind the psalmist and all of his Petition psalms–sometimes including the imprecation I’m afraid.

  3. If we are looking to the second coming and waiting and praying for that day when Jesus’ kingdom comes, as in the second coming, it is so important that we do not forget that this is a not only a thing yet to come but it already is here. Jesus is showing his disciples that this is how they should pray, but in the meantime, until Jesus comes, we need to be obeying God’s commands and living our lives in obedience to Him in bringing as much kingdom mentality and works to this world as possible. We also pray for His will to be done, and how are we showing that we want God’s perfect way if we are not already being obedient with what he has called us to. For the first century Jews, McKnight points out that for them, thy kingdom come would look like the “society of God’s people flourishing in this world under Christ as the King” (McKnight 179) in summary. They would become a people that were marked by peace, holiness, love, and wisdom and in the land of Israel. They were praying this in expectation as we still should today, but maybe did not have the thought that they were part of that process of making the kingdom come. To answer your question, today we should be praying for or government, and no it will never hurt to pray for their salvation, but I do not think we should pray for our favorite person to take their place as we also pray that God’s will would be done, because we are not all knowing as He is.

  4. The Lord’s Prayer is a very well known prayer. It is a prayer that many Christians will pray, but do they really mean it? I love the concept of making this prayer present, rather than thinking of it as only futuristic. If we really are praying “your kingdom come, your will be done,” then we must be preparing ourselves for when God does come back to the earth. We must submit to what God’s will is, rather than giving into the temptations of the world. “They ache for the full Story to become complete where God is All in All” (McKnight, p. 179). The end goal is for the Kingdom to come back and for God to reign over the world once again.

    If the end goal focuses on God, so should our prayers. We should not be so narrow focused in our prayers. A lot of time Christians pray for small things in their lives that do not really impact the Kingdom of God. It is important to remember what the ultimate goal is and to focus on that. We need to prepare ourselves for when God does come back to the earth. I think that that is the main lesson that we should take from the Lord’s Prayer.

    • Nick, I really like the point you made about how if we are praying about God’s kingdom coming, we need to be preparing ourselves for the day that God comes back to earth. This needs to be our end goal. We need to work towards being ready for when God comes back to earth to rule again. I also like how you pointed out that if our end goal is focuses on God so should our prayers be. We need to be less focused on only ourselves and what we want to happen when we pray. We need to pray for the end goal and pray for God’s will, and not our own. You made so many good points about how the Lord’s prayer is about becoming prepared for the day the Lord returns. We need to remember that God’s will is the most important.

  5. This topic question/article is something that I find that I incorporate in my prayer life often. At that times that I pray, I have been finding, myself praying more for the things that God has already done in my life. Thanking him for being graceful, being present, and all the gifts that he has given me to this day. I really try to keep myself in the mindset that God is to be the main focus. I tend to take my struggles to him, and then I get caught up in my convictions that I basically complained the whole time. When we focus and craft our prayers to be God focused, then I really think we will find that our lives will be God focused as well. We need to have the mindset that God is still here. God is still the creator of everything.

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