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Jesus teaches us to pray; he taught his followers to pray. He wants us to understand how to talk with God about what matters.

Jesus said, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” (Matthew 6:9-12)

We’ve been looking at the single request, “Your kingdom come.” What ideas are packed into those three words?

It’s more than a cry for the eternal state–the way most of us think of “heaven”–to hurry up and get here. It’s not just a call for God to wrap everything up and get on with eternity.

Jesus announced the breaking in of the kingdom (Mark 1:5) and spoke of his own ministry as a demonstration of the presence of the kingdom (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20). The kingdom was “in the midst” of those around Jesus (Luke 17:21).

And we are invited to pray for the coming of that kingdom. Jesus tells us to ask for the arrival of God’s manifest rule and presence. But what would that look like? What are we actually asking for?

In telling us about Jesus’ ministry, Luke provides some insight. The account I have in mind is found in Luke 4 (which would probably be good to read right now . . . go ahead and turn there because I won’t be quoting the whole chapter).

After Jesus’ confrontation with Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), Jesus returned to Galilee. He entered the synagogue in Nazareth and began to teach (4:16-30). Those who heard were amazed at his teaching; they had never heard such words. But being from his “home town” they had trouble embracing what he was saying. Heading to Capernaum, Jesus was teaching there on the Sabbath and again the crowd was amazed (4:31-32). As he spoke, a demonized man was delivered and those hearing realized that Jesus was not only saying powerful things but he was backing those words up with spiritual power (4:33-37). Upon departing the synagogue, Jesus entered Simon Peter’s house and proceeded to heal his mother-in-law (4:38-39). What came of this was that those in the neighborhood began bringing to Jesus those who were sick and demonized and Jesus brought them health and healing and deliverance (4:40-41).

When crowds were looking for him the next morning, Jesus explained he needed to depart to head into the other neighboring cities so that he could “preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also” because he was “sent for this purpose” (4:43). What he had been doing he identified with preaching or announcing the kingdom of God. The kingdom was present in some clear way.

What help does this provide in understanding the pray for the kingdom to come?

Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom of God seems to go hand in hand with a demonstration of the active presence and power of that kingdom in the lives of those he spoke to and spoke with. The proclamation of the kingdom was both in word and deed. And that would mean a request for God’s kingdom to come would be an invitation for God’s word to go forth in power and demonstrative grace.

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