Please open your Bible at Matthew 6:10. We are continuing our series ‘Six Things to Ask of God.’ Our Lord Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer to teach us how to pray. We saw that the place to begin is a relationship with God in which, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you come to know Him as your own heavenly Father. Everything in the Lord’s prayer flows from that relationship.
We saw that there are six petitions in this prayer, and these are like pegs on which we can hang all of our prayers. This prayer is a template. The six themes in the Lord’s Prayer will guide you in what to ask of God. Suppose, for example, you are praying for a friend or family member who needs help or support in some way. What you ask for this person is part of God’s provision: “Give us this day our daily bread.” But then you might also ask, ‘what temptations will this person need to overcome in the challenge they are facing?’ Then you will ask God to deliver them from that evil. Or you might ask, ‘Where will it be hardest for this person to do God’s will? There you will ask that God will give them strength to do His will on earth as it is in heaven. This series is very practical: Our aim is that through these six petitions, we will learn to pray more effectively. Lord, teach us to pray!
When we studied the Beatitudes, a number of years ago, we saw that there is order and progress in the blessings God calls us to pursue. Here again, there is order and progress in the Lord’s Prayer. These are not six randomly assorted requests. Each petition in the Lord’s Prayer leads to the next. ‘Hallowed be your name.’ Well, how will God’s name be honored? His name will be honored as His kingdom comes. How will His kingdom come? It will come in the lives of those who do God’s will: ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Therefore, we ask that God will provide what we need, that He will forgive our sins and that He will deliver us from evil.
Today, we come to the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus speaks about a kingdom, and that means there is a King. So the first thing we learn is that
God is a great and glorious King.
Today, most kings or queens have a largely symbolic and ceremonial role, but in biblical times, all power and authority lay in the hands of the king. The only question was over the boundaries of his kingdom. Beyond his kingdom other kings would reign, but within his own kingdom a king reigned supreme. The Bible confronts us with the truth that God is the great and glorious King not only over a few people but over the whole earth.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth. – Psalm 47:6-7
There is no corner of the earth that is not under God’s sovereign control. There is no neighboring kingdom where God does not rule. There are other powers, other authorities, other kings, other gods who do not recognize the Lord’s rule, but God is sovereign even over them.
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods. – Psalm 95:3
No one is beyond His rule. And God is not only a great King, He is a glorious King. For that reason His people long for the day when they will see Him.
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up,
O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! – Psalm 24:7, 10
God is presented to us in Scripture as a great and the glorious King. Then we learn that…
God will establish a great and glorious kingdom
God rules over all the earth, but clearly, this world in which we live does not recognize its King or His rule. Therefore, where will His kingdom be established? When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” – John 18:36
Notice Jesus repeats it twice. He doesn’t say, ‘My Kingdom is not in this world.’ He said it is not ‘of this world,’ and it is not ‘from this world.’ The kingdom is hard to grasp: It is in the world but not of it or from it. So what does it mean to pray, ‘Your kingdom come?’ We’re going to look at the beginning of God’s kingdom, the growth of God’s kingdom and the coming of God’s kingdom.
1. The Beginning of God’s Kingdom
One night, a very brilliant man came to Jesus. He was intrigued by what he saw in Jesus and he wanted to know more. His name was Nicodemus. Jesus said to him,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. – John 3:3
This man was religious. He kept the law and he would have said that his life was under the rule of God. He knew God’s promise to establish a kingdom and he would have been confident of his own place in it. But Jesus says, unless you are born again, you won’t even see the kingdom of God, let alone be in it! Any discussion of the kingdom of God has to begin here. Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, you can talk all you want about the kingdom, but unless you are born again you won’t even see it!
“Born again:” We are talking here about a fundamental restructuring of a person’s inner life. By nature, we all seek out own kingdom. We all want to live under our own rule, and Jesus is saying unless there is a fundamental restructuring of your inner life, your deepest affections, and your deepest desires, you cannot see the kingdom of God.
Restructuring a person’s life is something that only God can do. Only the Creator can make you a new creation. The Bible speaks of giving thanks to the Father because
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14
God breaks the power of resistance to Himself that reigned in us, and brings us into the freedom and forgiveness that are found under the rule of Christ. How does this happen? How can you be born again? How can you be delivered from the kingdom of darkness? How can you be transformed into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son? Listen to these words of Jesus:
Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
– Mark 10:14, 15
If you are going to see the kingdom of God you must be born again. You must be delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s Son. This happens when you come to Jesus. J I Packer says, “God’s kingdom is not a place, but rather a relationship. It exists wherever men enthrone Jesus as master of their lives.” The kingdom begins in us. If you come to Jesus and enthrone Him as your master, you will belong to the kingdom, and God’s kingdom will be in you.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom
… to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. – Revelation 1:6
So when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are asking that our lives will be more fully submitted to Christ the King. We are asking the Father to cast down the idols in our hearts and bring us more fully and more clearly under Christ’s rule. “Your kingdom come!”
2. The Growth of God’s Kingdom
We know that God’s kingdom is not of this world, but what does it look like in this world? Jesus spoke about this repeatedly in the parables.
With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest
of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests
in its shade. – Mark 4:30-32
Jesus says the kingdom of God is like ‘the smallest of all seeds.’ Here are a handful of disciples. The Kingdom is in them, but what difference can a few believers make in the vastness of this world? Jesus says that God’s kingdom is like a living seed. It may be small but, because it is living, it will grow, and this seed will become ‘larger than all the garden plants.’ So Jesus is telling his disciples, God’s kingdom has a small beginning in your hearts, but it will grow. What God is doing in you will spread through you into the lives of others. Only God can make things grow, and this is why we pray ‘Your kingdom come.’ We can plant the seed of God’s truth. We can water it with our prayers. But only God can make it grow. ‘Your kingdom come’ is where we pray for loved ones who do not yet know Jesus. ‘Your kingdom come’ is where we pray for the advance of the gospel in the world.
Why would a person want to be part of this kingdom? The center point of the Bible story is that God, our great and glorious King came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. When the King came into this world, and He gave us a sample of what life under His rule will be. He stilled the storm. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. There will be no more disasters, hunger, sickness and death when the Kingdom comes. But when the Son of God came and gave us a sample of what life will be like under His rule, we said, ‘we will not have this man to rule over us.’ So we crucified Him. But on the third day He rose from the dead, and He has ascended into heaven where, today, he reigns and waits until His kingdom will come.
We are to “Say among the nations, The LORD reigns! …He will judge the peoples with equity” (Psalm 96:10). The risen Lord Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of Lords. He will return in power and glory, and when He does, the full blessing of His kingdom will be known.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid. – Micah 4:3-4
Does that sound like something you would want to be part of? Lord, may Your kingdom come! May Jesus Christ reign more fully in our hearts, and spread in the hearts of many around the world.
3. The Coming of God’s Kingdom
This is what Jesus tells us to pray for: Not just that the kingdom will begin in us. Not only that it will grow throughout the world, but that God’s kingdom in all its fullness will come. “Your kingdom come!” Clearly the coming of the kingdom requires the coming of the King. What will happen when the king comes?
1. The King will defeat death
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father
after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:24-26
So when the King comes, all who resist His rule will be overwhelmed. All His enemies will be defeated, and the last enemy to be destroyed will be death itself.
When God’s kingdom comes …death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4
2. The King will judge the world
We read earlier in the service, the extraordinary description of the day when the kingdom comes:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” – Revelation 11:15
Here is a description of the coming of the kingdom. Notice what will happen when the kingdom comes. The twenty four elders fall on their faces in worship, and then they say,
The nations raged, but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged…
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth. – Revelation 11:18
When the King comes He will judge the world. Do you see what we are asking God to do when we pray, ‘Your kingdom come?’ ‘Father in heaven, come, defeat the enemies who are arrayed against You! Come, judge the world in righteousness! Come, destroy the destroyers of the earth!’ This is a serious prayer to pray. Peter Lewis makes this point: When we pray ‘Your kingdom come…’
We are praying about something which will be as terrible to some as it will be joyful to others. We are praying for the closing of the door as well as the opening of the gates… We are praying for the end of the old order with its space for repentance as well as its pain and its tears.
We long for the day when pain and tears will be gone, but when the pain and the tears of this world are gone, the ‘space for repentance’ will be gone too. When the kingdom comes, it’s the end of grace. This old world with its godless kingdoms, with its wars, its viruses, and its endless political arguments is passing away, and a new and better world is coming.
Christ’s kingdom will come, but this is the world in which we must enter His kingdom. As long as we live in this world, the door or this kingdom is open to us, but when the kingdom comes, the door will be closed, and those who are outside will be outside forever. So when we pray, ‘Your kingdom come,’ it should light a fire in our hearts to do all that we can to bring those who are outside of God’s kingdom in before the kingdom comes and it is too late.
When the Kingdom comes, not only will the King defeat all His enemies, including death itself, He will also judge the world in righteousness. Then there is one more wonderful thing:
3. The King will be with His people
People will come from east and west, and from north and south,
and recline at table in the kingdom of God. – Luke 13:29
Jesus spoke of His kingdom being like a great banquet to which all are invited. When that day comes, all who have responded and come to Jesus there will shout with joy.
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready. – Revelation 19:6-7
Are you ready? When Jesus died on the cross, two thieves were crucified with Him one on either side. At first, both of them hurled abuses at Jesus, but then something changed in one of them. He realized that Jesus was a King. He heard Jesus praying, “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). I wonder if he thought, ‘Forgiveness? Is that even possible for someone like me?’ There was a change in his heart, and so he said to the thief on the other side, “‘Don’t you fear God? We are being punished justly for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,’ and Jesus said to him… ‘Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:40, 41-43). Do you see what the thief did? He recognized his sinful condition. He realized that He had broken God’s law. He made no excuses or evasions. He asked Jesus to save him, and he believed the promise that Jesus gave.
However far from God you may be today, I invite you to do what the thief on the cross did, to recognize your sinful condition, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and ask Him to save you, for when you do, God’s kingdom will begin in you.
There’s one more thing I want us to see before we come to prayer today: Jesus prayed every petition of the Lord’s Prayer either for Himself or for others. That is wonderfully good news, for whatever Jesus prays for is always answered.
We looked today at the beginning of the kingdom: How it begins in us. But don’t you sometimes wonder, will there ever come a day when every trace of sin from my heart is removed? Will there ever come a day when I will love and serve God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength? I want to say to you today, yes, because Jesus prayed for it: “Sanctify them in the truth” (John 17:17).
Then we looked at the growth of the kingdom: How it spreads throughout the world. But sometimes don’t you wonder, will there ever come a day when believing people from every tribe and nation in this deeply divided world will actually live as one in perfect love under the rule of Christ? Yes it will! Jesus prayed for this too: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one” (John 17:20).
We looked at the coming of the kingdom: How Christ will return in power and glory. But don’t you ever find yourself wondering, will a day ever come when faith is turned to sight? Can I image what it will be for me to see the King in all of His glory? Is that really going to happen? Yes it will, and the reason you can be sure it will is because Jesus prayed for this: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24).
Father, hasten the day: “Your kingdom come.”
Our Father in heaven, we bow before You, our great and glorious King. This world gives no weight to You, but we draw near to You in worship. All power and authority belongs to You and we thank You that You have chosen to establish a Kingdom. In perfect justice, You could have written off the entire human race and left us to the ruin of our rebellion, but in love and in mercy, You chose to bring us into Your kingdom. We are so thankful, and we gladly embrace You as our Lord and King.
Father, we pray that Your reign may be seen more clearly in our lives. You have said ‘if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out. If your hand causes you to sin cut it off. It is better to enter into the Kingdom maimed than to enter into hell,’ (Mark 9:47; Matthew 5:29). Forgive us for the complacency with which we have given room to sins in our lives that has no place in Your Kingdom. May the truth that we have heard from your Word sanctify us today.
Father, we pray for the spread of the gospel in our world. There are people we love who today are outside of Your kingdom. Lord, in Your love and in Your mercy, bring them in! Cause them to be born again we pray. Deliver them from the kingdom of darkness and bring them into the Kingdom of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ. And light in our hearts a passion to spread the gospel in this generation. Help us to do Your work while it is day before the night comes when no one can work.
Father, we pray for the day when Christ will return in glory. We long to see Your Son, our King Jesus. Hasten the day when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15). Come defeat the enemies who are arrayed against You! Come judge the world in righteousness! Come and bring us safely into your presence to live under the blessing of Your rule!
Father, Your kingdom come! We pray this through Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Lord, Amen.
 J.I. Packer, I Want To Be A Christian, 149.
 Peter Lewis, The Lord’s Prayer, 80-81.