He said to them,When you pray, say:Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.Luke 11:2c
The third cry of true prayer, again concerned with God, is a cry of hope,
Your kingdom come. Now this can be a sigh for heaven. Who of us does not get homesick for heaven once in a while, longing to be free from the boredom of life and to experience the glory we read of in the Bible. Or this can be, as it ought to be, a cry for heaven to come to earth. That is,
Your kingdom come, meaning, may the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. There is much in Scripture about this, and who of us does not weary of the sickening senselessness of war and poverty, and misery and human despair, and long for that day to come when God shall rule in righteousness over all the earth?
But I think this prayer is more than that. It is more than a long, wistful look into the future, whether on earth, or off earth. It is a cry that God's will may be done through, and by means of, the blood and sweat and tears of life, right now. That is,
Your kingdom come through what I am going through at this very moment. That is what this prayer means. Scripture reveals to us a truth that man would never know by himself, but which becomes self-evident as we look at life through the lenses of the Word of God, and that is that God builds his kingdom in secret, so to speak. When it is least evident that he is at work this is frequently the time when he is accomplishing the most. Behind the scaffolding of tragedy and despair, God frequently is erecting his empire of love and glory. In these trials, hardships, disappointments, heartbreak and disasters, when we think God is silent, and when we have been abandoned, when we feel God has removed his hand and we no longer sense the friendship of his presence, God frequently is accomplishing the greatest things of all.
I once sat down with a young man who told me the story of his life. He had gone through a fearsome accident which had left a physical mark upon him, but a broken marriage had caused an even deeper scar. He had been raised in a church environment and, before some of these things took place, his outlook was one of self-righteous judgment of others, sort of a pious disdain for those who could not keep free from troubles or problems. But he said,
You know, the humiliation of my divorce cut the ground right out from under my self-righteous attitude. I know that I never would have come to my present joy and understanding of God's purpose if I had not been a divorce statistic. It is through these ways that God builds his kingdom.
What a glorious mystery this is! Out of darkness God calls forth light, out of despair, hope. From death comes resurrection. You cannot have resurrection without death, hope without despair or light without darkness. By means of defeat, the kingdom of God is born in human hearts. This is what this prayer means.
Oh, Lord, I am but a little child. I do not understand the mysteries of life. I do not know the ways in the world of men, but Lord, I pray that through these very circumstances in which I now find myself, through these present troubles, these present struggles, your kingdom come.
Father, how frequently I misunderstand life even though you have been at such great lengths to show me the secrets of it. How many times, Father, have I rebelled in some foolish resentment against you and your workings in my life? But I have also seen that through these hours of resentment and bitterness, you have been at work in love to bring me to an understanding of reality, to bring me back to your loving heart.
Do we pray with joyful anticipation for Christ's triumphant reign on earth? Do we simultaneously pray for his unbridled reign in our personal, daily walk with him?