Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Why do we call Jesus “Lord”? We speak of Christ as our “Lord” and “Savior” primarily because, in our helplessly fallen state, we know we need His sovereignty and salvation to restore us to life. Our own “reign” over our lives is and has been insufficient to save us from the sentence for our sins, to achieve the repentance we hardly knew we craved, and so we turn our lives over to Jesus – and by extension, to God – to bring us back to the proper path.
There is no magic formula to achieve this transformation from sinner to saved. Yes, saying something like the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” – as popularized by altar calls and tent meetings – might help get someone in the right frame of mind, but it is not the prayer itself that does the deed. Rather, when one puts oneself in the right spiritual place through prayer and an openness to the gospel, then one opens the way for the Holy Spirit to take over and move one to repentance and faith. The imagery throughout the Gospels and the Epistles is of submission to higher authority, of allowing God to reign in our lives, of calling for our own entry into the kingdom of God. Prayer is our way of knocking at the gates of God’s kingdom.
Before we came and called out for Jesus to rule over us, we submitted ourselves to worldly rulers. Not only did we set up idols for ourselves, but like the ancient Israelites, we called for worldly kings to guide us and fight our battles. In First Samuel chapter 8 we read about that pivotal historical moment when Israel called for their first king – a moment which paved the way for the coming of David and Solomon. That story is a wonderful parable for our spiritual journey. When the people clamor for a king over them, the old prophet Samuel disagrees with them and prays to the Lord for guidance.
1 Samuel 8:7
And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
At that moment when they sought a worldly leader to rule over them and to fight their battles for them, the Israelites were rejecting God and His reign – rejecting the divine wisdom, power, and glory which had been theirs for the asking. When we seek worldly guidance and we are tempted to worldly ways and sin, when we say we want the “freedom” that the world promises us, then we are making ourselves subject to the ruler of this world: Satan. Christ, however, has given us a way to get out of this kingdom, because He came to restore the kingdom of God and to cast down the ruler of this age and bring the reign of God. (John 12:31)
In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), our Lord and Savior says, “Your kingdom come.” The words are simple and direct, saying that the kingdom of God is so imminent that we can already consider it here. In a way, Jesus is saying we ought to pray “May Your kingdom come” or “Let Your kingdom come,” and thus we call God to reign over us. In another way, He is saying we should affirm God’s reign by saying “Your kingdom has already come” – i.e. “You are now King and Lord of my life.” In either case, we are saying we want God to rule over us. The “kings” of this world – Satan, lust, greed, pride, politics, sin – are no longer good enough. We’ve had enough of the kings Samuel warned us about (1 Samuel 8:11-18), and now we want God to take the reins again.
The kingdom of God is not a temporal kingdom, not a worldly political institution that rules from some distant court. The kingdom of God is a spiritual demesne where the Holy Spirit of God enacts God’s will through us, where Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives. The wonderful thing is that when we become citizens of this heavenly realm, it influences our view of and our actions within the worldly realm. The more people who subject themselves to the authority of God in Christ, then the closer this world comes to mirroring the kingdom of heaven, that place where God’s will is always done.
So when we pray “Your kingdom come,” let us remember that we are not just talking objectively about some heavenly ideal of justice and peace. We are calling for the reign of God to begin anew every day in our lives. Having called out to our Father in heaven, and having glorified His named, hallowing the name of Jesus, it is now time for us to call for God to become our one King, our Lord of lords, and our Faithful and True Savior.
Our Father in heaven, please reign in me. My own life is a shambles, and my sin too great to deal with on my own. Forgive my sins, Lord God, and bring me Your salvation. Let Your Christ, Your blessed Son, become King of kings in my heart. I reject the ruler of this world, and I call for Your kingdom to come to me. Lead me to repentance, Father God, and I shall praise You and be Your subject, Your servant, a vessel of Your will forever. Amen.