Hillel was a leading first century rabbi who taught that there is no authentic prayer that does not include prayer for God’s kingdom to come. Just as the coming of the kingdom was foremost on the minds and lips of every devout Jew, so Jesus began ministry declaring the arrival of God’s kingdom: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). Jesus made the kingdom of God central to His message and ministry, announcing: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). Jesus tells His opponents that the kingdom has come in His person: “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Luke 11:20). He crafted parables revealing that the kingdom of God is here, advancing now, even like a “mustard seed” growing and spreading (Matthew 13:31).
Yet, Jesus instructs us to pray to our Father, “Your kingdom come.” We pray God’s kingdom to come because His kingdom is both a present reality and a future act of God. God’s kingdom is both come and coming, “now” and “not yet”. The Good News is that God’s kingdom is really here, but not fully here. We pray for God’s future kingdom to break upon us in the present. We live ‘between the times’ as participants in God’s vanguard of the new world coming.
We rejoice that Christ has defeated Satan and reigns at the Father’s right hand, and yet there is work to be done before every knee bows and confesses Jesus as Lord. New Testament theologian Oscar Cullman gave a classic distinction between Christ’s first and second coming based on the Second World War’s “D-Day” and “V-Day”. Cullman explains that when the Allies established their Normandy beach head on “D-Day”, the war in Europe was essentially won. Yet “V-Day” and ultimate victory remained future as the battle raged on. When Jesus went throughout Galilee proclaiming the Good News, the beachhead of God on earth was established. So today, we serve Jesus and pray for God’s kingdom to come in its fullness with God’s final “V-Day”!
Middle Eastern scholar Kenneth Bailey encourages us as we pray for God’s kingdom to come: “We can affirm in quiet confidence that the ship of history moves in the direction God intends even when we live in the midst of destruction, horror and tragedy. We pray ‘Thy kingdom come’ in faith and confidence as we labor to prepare for that coming.” (Kenneth Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes)
So, as we live ‘between the times’ we join our hearts and voices with the Bible’s final prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). “Your kingdom come!”
PRAY THE LORD’S PRAYER (MORNING-NOON-NIGHT)