3-4 Prayer For The Coming Of The Kingdom
The hope of the future Kingdom means that we will not now be materialistic. And the model prayer was given by Jesus in the context of His comment on how some tend to always be asking God for material things. The Lord teaches that the paramount thing we should request is the coming of the Kingdom, both in its glorious future 'political' sense as well as in the sense that the principles of the Kingdom should be manifested in our lives now. This is the request we should be making- for " Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of…after this manner therefore pray ye…" (Mt. 6:9,10). Later in Mt. 6 the Lord repeats the same words: " Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things…seek ye first his Kingdom" (Mt. 6:32-34 RV). The structure of the Lord's prayer reflects this- for the first and only request in it is a seeking for the coming of His Kingdom. The RV of Heb. 10:34,35 brings out well the same theme: " Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that ye have your own selves for a better possession" (RVmg). Who we ourselves will be turned into is our better possession, " a better possession and an abiding one" (RV). And this compensates for the loss of material possessions in this life. Therefore the writer urges them to not cast away their confidence in the receipt of this reward at the Lord's return (:35). The more humbly confident we are in receiving the Kingdom, the less the loss of possessions now will mean to us. But notice that prayer for the coming of the Kingdom is parallel with praying that God's will may be done. The Kingdom of God is not only a future issue. The principles of the Kingdom will be worked out in our lives, they will 'come' into our own daily experience, in so far as we seek to do the Father's will. God's will ultimately will be done anyway- but surely the Lord wished us to pray that in our lives, that will would be done, that we will be ready servants of all the Kingdom principles which the Lord taught in His parables of the Kingdom. Every other reference to the will of God being done in the NT refers to the obedient life of the believer right now (Mt. 26:42; Acts 21:14; Eph.5:17).
The Lord's words can be understood on many different levels. It can be argued that every phrase of the Lord's prayer looks forward on one level, but not exclusively, to the future establishment of the Kingdom:
" Hallowed / sanctified be thy name" uses an aorist tense which implies that it will be accomplished as a one time act; at the coming of the Lord. Indeed, the aorist tenses in the Lord's model prayer are arresting; each phrase of the prayer asks for something to be done in a one time sense. This alone suggests an intended 'answer' in terms of the final establishment of the Kingdom
" Thy Kingdom come" - clear enough
" Thy will be done" again uses an aorist which
demands a one time fulfilment- in the sense of 'May Your will come
about...'. The will of God is often associated with His ultimate
plan of salvation (e.g. Eph. 1:5-12; Col. 1:20). It has
been pointed out that "Hallowed be Your Name" is (grammatically)
a request for action, rather than simply an expression of praise.
Jesus prayed this in Gethsemane and it cost Him His life. We know
from the Old Testament that God in fact "hallows" His
own Name (Ez. 20:41; 28:25; 36:22,23; 38:16; 39:27). By asking God
to "hallow" or sanctify / realize that Name in our lives,
we are definitely praying in accordance with His will. He wishes
to do this- and so He will surely do this in our lives if we ask
Him. All the principles connected with His Name will be articulated
in our lives and experience for sure if we pray for this- for we
will be praying according to His revealed will in His word. And
the ultimate fulfilment of all this will be in final coming of the
" Give us this day our daily bread" has long been recognized as an inadequate translation of a very strange Greek phrase. The idea is 'Give us today, right now, the bread / food of tomorrow'. In ancient Judaism, mahar means not only tomorrow but the great Tomorrow, i.e. the Kingdom. Jesus spoke of the inauguration of the future Kingdom in terms of eating food together (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 6:21; 14:15; 22:29,30; Rev. 7:16). 'Give us the future Kingdom today, may it come right now' is perhaps one of the levels on which He intended us to understand the prayer. The aorist implies: 'Give us this once and final time' the bread of tomorrow. The Lord was surely alluding to the way that Israel in the wilderness had been told that " in the morning [tomorrow] you shall be filled with bread" ; and this was widely understood in first century Palestine as being typical of the coming of Messiah's Kingdom. Notice too how Is. 55:10 connects the descent of God's word made flesh in Jesus, with the giving of bread.
And one practical point. Even though we may have daily bread, we are still to pray for it. It’s rather like Zech. 10:1: “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain”; even when it’s the season, still ask Him for what it appears you naturally already have.
" Forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us" again uses the aorist which implies 'Forgive us this once'. Could this not be an anticipation of the state of the believer before the judgment seat of Christ- 'forgive me please this once for all my sins, as I have forgiven those who sinned against me'. If so, we have a powerful exhortation to forgive now; for in that awesome moment, it will be so apparent that the Lord's gracious acceptance of us will be directly proportional to how deeply we accepted and forgave our brethren in this life. Notice how strongly Jesus links future judgment with our present forgiveness (Lk. 6:37). He teaches us to pray now for forgiveness on the basis of how we have forgiven others, knowing that in prayer, we have a foretaste of the judgment. Now we can come boldly before the throne of grace in prayer, just as we will come before that same throne in the last day.
" Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the
evil one" can only really come true when we are changed
into divine nature; for only then will we be freed /delivered [aorist-
once, finally, for all time] from the 'devil' of sin. The word for
trial / temptation is peirasmos, and I have never been
entirely satisfied that we can reconcile the Lord's words here with
the fact that God does not tempt any man (James 1:13-15). However,
I feel happier with the idea that the Lord may specifically be bidding
us pray for deliverance from the latter day holocaust to come upon
the saints. The Lord Jesus can keep us from " the hour of trial
[peirasmos] which is coming on the whole world" (Rev.
3:10). When the disciples were bidden pray that they enter not into
temptation (Mk. 14:38- peirasmos again), they were being
asked to pray the model prayer with passionate concentration and
meaning. Yet those men in Gethsemane were and are representative
of the latter day saints who are bidden pray that they may escape
" all those things" , the hour of trial / peirasmos
which is coming, and to stand acceptably before the Son of
man at His coming. We ought to be praying fervently for this deliverance;
but I wonder how many of us are? For the days of the final tribulation
will be shortened for the sake of the elect- i.e., for the sake
of their prayers (Mk. 13:19,20). The final tribulation of the last
days will be the supreme struggle between the flesh and spirit,
between the believer and the world, between Christ and the Biblical
'devil'; and we are to pray that we will be delivered victorious
from that struggle. Thus "Lead us not into 'the test'"
(Mt. 6:13) could in this context be understood as a plea to save
us from entering into the time of final tribulation- just as the
Lord specifically exhorts us to pray to be delivered from that time.
The implication would be that the final time of testing will be
so severe that indeed the elect will scarcely be saved. It seems
to me that none of us have the urgent sense of the time of testing
ahead which we should have; how many are praying daily to be spared
it? How many are in actual denial that it will ever come, even though
it's clear enough in Scripture?
" For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever" is the appropriate conclusion to a prayer that asks for the establishment of that Kingdom.
Whilst commenting upon the Lord's prayer, it is worth pointing out that the Lord repeated the essence of each phrase at various points during His life. When facing His ultimate struggle when facing up to the cross, He asked that the Father's Name would be glorified (Jn. 12:28)- quoting His own words from His model prayer. It hurt and cost Him so much to pray that prayer- the prayer we may have known for so many years that we can pray it almost at no cost. But to truly ask for the Father's will to be done is in fact a commitment to the way of the cross (Jn. 6:38; Heb. 10:7-10; Mk. 14:36). So let us pray the prayer- but putting meaning into the words.