This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)]

Remember that the same Christ who tells us to say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” had first given us this petition, “Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Let not your prayers be all concerning your own sins, your own wants, your own imperfections, your own trials, but let them climb the starry ladder, and get up to Christ Himself, and then, as you draw nigh to the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, offer this prayer continually, “Lord, extend the kingdom of Thy dear Son.” [Charles Spurgeon]

sunflowerIt wasn’t until I read Charles Spurgeon’s paraphrase of “Your kingdom come,” as “Lord, extend the kingdom of Thy dear Son,” that I truly gave serious thought to what it means to pray, “Your (or “Thy”) kingdom come.” Although we say it every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, what exactly do those three words mean? After all, that was God Himself giving His disciples a guideline to prayer and there certainly couldn’t be a better teacher! Since there are over seventy references to the Kingdom of God in the New Testament and this petition immediately follows praising God’s name in Jesus’ prayer, the coming of God’s Kingdom clearly was important to Him.

Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection opened the doors to God’s Kingdom. Yet, it is only when Jesus comes again at the end of the age that God’s Kingdom will reign with power and authority. While this petition is for the fulfillment of the Kingdom with Christ’s return, it is much more than that. As we pray for the coming of Jesus in the future, these three words also are a petition for the expansion of God’s Kingdom in the present. They are a prayer that the gospel message will be preached to and accepted by all so that the whole world will be made Christ’s Kingdom and filled with His glory. We’re asking God to reveal Himself in such a way that His kingdom is visible here on earth and that He will open the hearts of those we encounter and to whom we witness.

Praying that God’s Kingdom will come is also an acknowledgement that He is our sovereign king and the ruler of our lives. Even though the Kingdom will not be complete until the second coming of Christ, we can experience it today. This leads into  the next petition of “Your will be done,” in which we ask Him to enable us to do what is pleasing to Him. May we be genuine, faithful, obedient, and capable servants of His Kingdom!

Although my lips frequently speak the words, ”Your Kingdom come,” until considering Spurgeon’s words, I barely understood their magnitude. In my personal prayers, I have neglected praying for the coming of God’s Kingdom—the day when Jesus will return and all things will be restored. Although I remember to pray for pastors, missions, and missionaries, the expansion of God’s Kingdom here and now and the role I should play in that expansion has never been on the top of my prayer list either.

If the coming of His Kingdom is God’s priority, perhaps it should be ours as well. Moreover, we should prove the truth of our prayers by putting our words into Kingdom-promoting action. Let us be like the Apostle Paul who, “proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” [Acts 28:31]

We therefore pray that God would exert his power, both by the Word and by the Spirit, that the whole world may willingly submit to him. [John Calvin]

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “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 (NIV)]

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