Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 6:10a “Thy. . .”
Do not overlook the significance of this second person possessive pronoun. “The enthusiasm of the kingdom is missing. . . .because there is so little enthusiasm for the King” (Andrew Murray). We waste our time trying to promote God’s kingdom if we are not first promoting the kingdom’s God. Only if He is important to us will His kingdom be, too. Until passionate for Him we will not be passionate for His work. In all we do, God must be first and foremost. He is everything.
We have long been told our motivation for evangelism and missions should be a burning, earnest compassion for the lost. People are going to Hell, and we should care. This is certainly a legitimate and powerful motive for spreading the Gospel, but the primary impetus for outreach must spring from a love for God.
John Dawson, a leader in Youth With a Mission, points out in his book “Taking Our Cities for God” that generating and sustaining a strong feeling of love for prechristians is often difficult. “Love the lost” is a key phrase in our theological jargon, but in reality it is usually hard to feel deeply for a general population.
If I showed us a photograph of someone we had never met, we would find it hard to love that individual deeply. It is also hard to have and hold a deep abiding love for a nation, a people group, or a concept as nebulous as “all prechristians.”
God can and does give us concern for unbelievers unknown to us, but the best way to foster evangelism and missions is to emphasize and improve our love for God, whom we do know firsthand. We should witness to neighbors primarily because Jesus died for them and He deserves “the reward of his suffering” (Dawson). We should do missions around the world because God’s precious Lamb shed His blood for all peoples and deserves to see benefits derived from His sacrifice.
The fountain of outreach must first spring from a heart in love with God. If we stumble over this word “thy,” the words “kingdom come” will impact us little.
Matt. 6:10b “. . .kingdom. . .”
God rules a moral and spiritual kingdom whose adherents give absolute allegiance solely to King Jesus. It is an inner kingdom, setting up its throne within the hearts of its citizens. God’s kingdom is not built on armies or earthly governments. It knows nothing of man-drawn boundaries, political entities, or time. All earthly kingdoms come and go, rise and fall, but God’s Kingdom ever abides. In every way, His kingdom is far greater than all the kingdoms of earth combined.
We should want God to rule over all hearts and minds, for this world’s kingdoms leave us unfulfilled. In our world woe and ruin abound. On every hand we see petty dictators, tyranny, the strong crushing the weak. Women and children are dehumanized, and now Christians are the most persecuted group in the world.
This world-wide reign of pain and despair is not the kind of kingdom activity God ordains. Jesus wants all things that hurt removed. Look around at earth’s anguish, and say, “This is not of God. An enemy has done this. Sin has invaded.”
Each generation sees the problems of its day and, wanting something better, tries to lift the lot of humanity. Each generation offers its own new solution–communism, capitalism, social reform, education, science, civilization, politics, etc.
Each society thinks its new idea will be the one to save humanity; but “alas, alas! time after time the old experience is repeated, and the gratulations die down into gloomy silence” (Maclaren). Hope persists, but disappointment repeats itself.
Never discourage people from dreaming of building a brighter future, but do encourage them to try what works. Man-made efforts help, but do not cure. This world’s mind-set is always flawed. Only the kingdom of God can set things right.
Conditions can be bettered ultimately only by bettering individuals through giving them a new nature. The very nature of God has to be implanted in them by a spiritual birth. God’s kingdom, this tired old world’s best hope, expands on earth through the salvation of souls. Thus, pray for global evangelization, for people across the street and around the world. People need, more than all else, Jesus.
Matt. 6:10c “. . .come.”
The fact we have to make the request proves the advance of God’s kingdom is not automatic. There is opposition to overcome. Another spiritual kingdom is at work in this world. God’s reign of light is resisted by Satan’s reign of darkness.
God created this world to be His, but Satan seduced our race into a rebellion so successful that even the Bible calls him “the god of this world” (2 C 4:4). Satan sought to keep earth solely to himself, but God refused to abandon our race to the sinister foe. The whole drama of human history has been the epic struggle of God’s progress in taking back this world. God continues marching steadily forward, consistently reclaiming the peoples of earth for Himself. John saw in heaven “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (RV 7:9). This foreshadowed God’s inevitable victory in His irresistible movement to be known in every corner of Satan’s usurped territory.
Be assured Satan resists the advance of God’s kingdom at every hand. The battle is engaged. We will never understand prayer until mindful of the fact this cosmic war ceaselessly rages in microcosm in each and every one of our hearts.
Paul understood this reality. He grasped the dynamic at work. He “fought a good fight” (2 T 4:7), and commanded us to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 T 6:12). He told us to wear “armor” (EP 6:11), not pajamas or formal evening wear.
Life is war. “Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth. Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den” (John Piper, “Let the Nations Be Glad,” p. 41).
Pray for victory in this ultimate war. Look at our lost neighbors and silently pray, “Thy kingdom come.” Weep over lost kin and plead, “Thy kingdom come.” Think of the world’s unreached peoples and beg, “Thy kingdom come.” In every situation where we confront the kingdom of lostness, pray, “Thy kingdom come.” Herein we find victory. S. D. Gordon said prayer is striking the winning blow, service is gathering up the results. Let us pray, flooding heaven with our wartime walkie-talkie, and then go forth in evangelism and missions to harvest the results.