We are currently going through a mini-series on ‘The lord’s prayer’ within a very long running exploration of the most famous sermon of all time, ‘The sermon on the mount.’
Last week we explored the privilege of being able to call God ‘father’ and how, when we pray, that we should desire that His name would be; honoured, revered and adored. We discovered that it is not just a prayer to be repeated over and over, but each part is like a heading we can use to expand our prayers.
Today we are going to look at two more headings: God’s kingdom and His will.
Have you got clear in your mind what God’s kingdom is? It can be a little confusing can’t it? There have been many opinions over the years about what His kingdom is. Some would say it is all in the future, when He comes again and makes everything new. Some think it is His church, or social reform, or even that it is a personal conversion experience.
The Kingdom of God is mentioned many times in scripture and so we can get a good understanding by studying these passages together.
The phrase ‘Kingdom of God’ refers to God’s rule and reign. It is clear that there are two kingdoms which are in conflict; ‘Satan’s,’ or the ‘kingdom of this world’ and the kingdom of God.
Jesus came to bring God’s kingdom down to earth, to meet the opposing kingdom head on. He announced on many occasions that the kingdom of God had arrived;
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)
And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matthew 10:7)
There is an aspect too that God’s kingdom is yet to come fully. There are many prophecies in the Old Testament and multiple passages in the New (not least the book of Revelation) which speak about God’s kingdom being established and Jesus sitting on the throne.
So we can say that the Kingdom of God has an aspect of ‘now’ and ‘not yet’. Until the time that Jesus fully establishes His kingdom when He comes again, He has passed the rule of His kingdom here on earth to His ambassadors; those of us who have accepted Him as Lord. We can bring His kingdom in now, through prayer and action. When we pray for healing, when we witness, when we forgive and love and help the poor and many other ways, we are bringing God’s kingdom to earth. This is the essence of this part of the prayer, we are asking for God to establish more and more of his kingdom right here in the enemies kingdom. For the light to push back the darkness.
The second part of the passage today talks about God’s will.
It’s so easy, when we pray, to focus on our own needs and wants. That is the way the world is, always focusing in on itself. When we pray to God it must be different. We need to lay aside our own agendas and pray in line with what God wants.
Jesus was the perfect example of this type of attitude
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)
Even when He was in complete anguish, His determination was still true. In the garden of Gethsemane when He was sweating blood, He still had the grit to say;
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Knowing God’s will is actually very easy, it is the obeying of it which is hard. God’s will is clear throughout the bible, in the way we are to be and the way we should act. It’s actually as simple as copying Jesus. He has provided The Holy Spirit to equip us and help us accomplish God’s desires.
What you need to remember is that God has a perfect will for your life and He wants to help you to achieve it. We can often think we know best but we don’t. Only God knows the full picture and He wants to keep us on the path of contentment, of love, joy and peace. The closer we follow His will, the more we will achieve those things.
Let’s pray this week that His kingdom and will are first in our lives.