Recently I was reminded that not all professing Christians who frequently pray The Lord’s Prayer understand what the phrase “your kingdom come” means. This morning I read Alistair Begg’s explanation (which I very much agree with) in a series he is teaching on The Lord’s Prayer.
[W]hen we think in terms of the kingdom of God, we think in terms of something that is vastly different from anything that we have ever encountered or will encounter in the pages of history. Many hymns have been written to this end. For example, quoting from one,
His kingdom cannot fail,
He rules o’er earth and heav’n;
The keys of death and hell
Are to our [Savior] giv’n:
[So] lift up your heart,
Lift up your voice!
Rejoice again, I say rejoice!
The psalmist, speaking in the same vein in 145:13, says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”
…Now, in light of this we need to ask the question, what is it we’re asking for when we take up this phrase in our prayers, “Your kingdom come”? Well, we can say at least this: that we are asking that God’s sovereign rule might increasingly be established in the hearts and lives of those who acknowledge him as King, and also in the lives of those who are presently living in rebellion against God and who are currently held captive by the powers of darkness. Because one of the great distinguishing features of faith in Christ is that God has rescued us–and I’m quoting Colossians 1:13–“He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and [he has] brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” We are, then, if you like, the kids of the kingdom by grace and through faith. And this dimension of the sovereignty of God we ought not to pass over too quickly–that in the phrase “Your kingdom come” we’re reminding ourselves of the fact that God is King, that he is sovereign over all; that, again as the psalmist puts it, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”–Psalm 115:3. The psalmist, speaking in the same vein in 145:13, says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”
…[W]hen you come to the Gospels, you discover that Jesus is going through the towns and villages, and he’s preaching the good news of the kingdom. And he is telling people, “There is a kingdom, and I’m the King. You’re not in the kingdom, but if you will follow me, you may become a subject of the King and you may become part of the kingdom.” And it is essentially this picture that we have in mind when we take this phrase and pray, “Your kingdom come.” And in addressing that, it is important for us to keep in mind that the emphasis of Jesus–indeed, the striking emphasis of the whole Bible–is upon the spiritual and inward character of the kingdom of God and the way in which he rules in the lives of men and women. Nowhere is this more clearly pointed out than in John 18, when Jesus, responding to Pilate’s question, says, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
…Now, when you think in these terms you discover that there is both a present dimension and a progressive discovery, and then finally a permanent display of God’s kingdom–a present dimension, a progressive discovery, and there will one day be a permanent display of the kingdom of God.