When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
The word kingdom is short for “king’s dominion.” What does Jesus have dominion over? Everything!
However, when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” in the Lord’s Prayer, we are not praying that Jesus would set up shop visibly on earth in the form of a kingdom. Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus told the religious leaders, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20,21). Jesus’ kingdom is his rule in hearts through his Word.
A prayer for my heart
I was born a citizen of the United States of America, and I have a birth certificate to prove it. But what does it take to be a citizen in Jesus’ kingdom? That does not come by a birth certificate but by a baptism certificate. When Jesus worked faith in your heart through Baptism or the Word alone, you became a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. The devil was cast out as king of your heart, and Jesus has taken his place. “Your kingdom come” is a prayer to keep Jesus there.
At times, it may be difficult to believe that Jesus is answering this prayer. We know what Jesus did on the cross. We know how thankful we are for that. But we also know our sin. We know our past. It is easy to wonder, Is Jesus even for me? Does he still rule in my heart?
Martin Luther had an interesting illustration to show how senseless that thinking is. Imagine that the richest king in the world was so pleased with you that he said, “Ask for anything you want and I’ll give it to you.” Then you proceed to ask for a bowl of soup. Wouldn’t the king be shocked at how little you asked for since he is capable of giving you so much more? The same is true for this petition. We ask for no small thing, but God who owns and controls all things, who loved you enough to give you his Son to pay for your sins, now says, “Ask me and I will give it to you.” We pray, “Your kingdom come,” knowing that as he rules us through his Word, he answers this petition.
A prayer for the hearts of others
This is a mission prayer. We are not praying for Jesus to bring about a physical world domination but rather a spiritual heart domination. We pray, “Your kingdom come,” every time a baby is baptized. We pray, “Your kingdom come,” whenever someone makes an effort to tell his neighbor about Jesus. We pray, “Your kingdom come,” each time our children sing in church and people who aren’t normally at worship hear the message of Jesus through their lips. We pray, “Your kingdom come,” every time we give an offering because Jesus uses that money to extend his kingdom here and around the world. “Your kingdom come” is a prayer for Jesus to extend his rule into the hearts of others . . . through you and me.
I often hear people say, “I love my church because we have a mission mind-set.” When I ask what they mean, they say, “We don’t just talk missions; we do missions.” Let’s be a church that does missions. Let’s pray boldly that Jesus’ kingdom come into the hearts of others . . . through us.
Have a question, ask it here!
Jesus’ kingdom examined
Except for the ones in existence now, every earthly kingdom has fallen. It appears to be in the nature of kingdoms, at least earthly ones, to fall. People have thought some pretty great kingdoms would be around forever. Before the time of Christ, talk with the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks—all of them would have told you that their kingdoms would last forever. During Jesus’ time, ask the Romans how long their kingdom would last, and they would have told you forever! We have a special freedom in our country to proclaim God’s truth, and we ask him to continue to provide that freedom. But we realize that this country will go the way of every other kingdom on earth—either when Jesus comes again or before.
“Your kingdom come.” In this Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for one kingdom that will never come to an end: Jesus’ kingdom.
Jesus’ kingdom is sometimes explained as a threefold kingdom.
Kingdom of power
Jesus’ kingdom of power refers to his rule over the entire universe for the good of his church. “God has placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:22). What a comfort that no matter what happens, whether the world turns its back on God or the devil rages, we know that all things are being worked for our good and the gates of hell will never overtake the church (Romans 8:28; Matthew 16:18).
As Jesus rules in his kingdom of power, he has given us gifts that help to preserve this world. Look up the passage associated with each gift and enumerate all of the blessings you enjoy because of each gift.
- Government (Romans 13:1-6)
- Marriage and family (Genesis 2:18-24)
- Work (Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10)
Kingdom of grace
Jesus’ kingdom of grace refers to his rule in the hearts of believers here on earth.
Read Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 17:20,21; John 8:31,32; Romans 1:16.
These passages describe what we are asking for when we pray for Jesus’ kingdom to come.
Agree/disagree: A nation’s laws help Jesus’ kingdom of grace come. Explain your answer.
Kingdom of glory
Jesus’ kingdom of glory refers to his rule together with his believers in heaven. On earth, Jesus rules in his kingdom of grace through the means of grace, the gospel in Word and sacraments. In heaven, he rules visibly in all his glory.
Revelation 7:17 says, “The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.” However, the Bible also describes believers reigning with Jesus in heaven. “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12). There is a “now and not yet” aspect to our reign with Christ.
Read Matthew 16:19; Luke 22:29,30; 1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 1:6; 2:10.
Contemplate what it means that we reign and will reign with Christ.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 110, Number 2
Issue: February 2023
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?