Your Kingdom Come

Your Kingdom Come

Words can get us in trouble.

Depending on where they are spoken, who is speaking them, who they are spoken to, and the consequences involved, words can radically change our life.

Go on an airplane and say, “I have a bomb.” Your life will be different.  Stand in front of an altar with the one you love and say, “For better for worse, for richer or poorer, I do.” Raise your right hand in a court of law and say, “I solemnly swear to tell the truth.” Words can rearrange your life.

But I believe the most life-altering, radical, dangerous, consequential words we can say are recorded in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray – “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Now I know we can say these words without meaning them, and not much happens, except we get more used to praying things we don’t really mean.

I think this is why most liturgies that call us to the Lord’s Prayer say, “Let us be ever so bold as to pray, ‘Our Father …’.” Let us be bold? Let us be ever so bold? Have you ever thought of yourself as needing boldness to pray the Lord’s Prayer?  This is not a prayer for timid people. It is a radical prayer for the overturn of the powers that rule the world. It is a prayer of unsettling. This prayer beckons God to make his rule tangible everywhere in every way, for the earth to become the place where what God wants is done. We are inviting a tiger out of the cage.  And this tiger is not tame.

Have you ever wondered what the swift, immediate answer to this prayer would look like? Here’s my guess:

  • Wealth would be redistributed. (And most of us reading this would have less.)
  • The military would be unnecessary. (Think of what could be done with all the money.)
  • Weapons would become farm implements.
  • Washington DC would no longer be the seat of power.
  • The meek would inherit the earth.
  • The planet would be restored and redeemed from our pollution.
  • The weak among us would be empowered.
  • The proud and arrogant among us would come down.
  • Justice would be done in the courts.
  • Health care would be global, and the hungry fed.
  • Education would not be for the privileged few but for everybody.
  • Self-rule would cease and God would be the only sovereign.

And this would only scratch the surface. The world will be radically changed when the kingdom comes in fullness and God’s will is done on earth as it is done in heaven.

So how do we pray this? Boldly? Sadly, many have prayed this like it was surrender to fate. We tell God what we want, but realize that God will ultimately get what he wants, so we tag our prayer with a P.S. at the end – “nevertheless, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” It’s kind of like a pious capitulation, a helpless surrender, a hopeless resignation to fate. It’s as if the devout are drugged to repeat, “your kingdom come, your will be done.” It is spiritual anesthesia to keep us from plotting with God for the redemption of the world.

But I am remembering Jesus in the garden. The cross is in front of him and he prefers not to go. He asks the Father to let this pass. He prays for the cross to be removed, but finally realizes that it is the way of God and says, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” You tell me. Is this passive resignation or willing participation? Is it caving in to God or plotting with God? Is it resigning to the fate or creating the future?

Jesus did not leave the garden limping like a pre-fated being. He said to the disciples, “Get up. Let’s go. My Father is up to something that involves me!” Pray this prayer and you have obligated yourself to radical obedience.

What makes the kingdom so radical is that when God’s kingdom comes, ours ends. It is the end of self-rule. God has not come to make some good suggestions or to lobby for his agenda. God has come to reign. I’m amazed by the characters in the Bible—the Sanhedrin and King Herod and Pontius Pilate and Caesar and Satan—who actually knew how dangerous Jesus was. They knew that the kingdom of God was the end of them. They didn’t want to kill Jesus because they disagreed with his ideas; they wanted to kill him because he had come to destroy their little kingdoms and bring their rule to an end.

The prayer of “kingdom come” is the prayer to be sanctified completely. It is letting go into God, going with God, releasing control to God, yielding to God. And when this happens, the kingdom comes, and God’s will is done—not according to fate or by the power of personal choice, but by the activity of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead working in us to do God’s will.

Today’s post is an excerpt from The Lord’s Prayer: Imagine it Answered.

Comments

  1. Pam McGraner says

    Thank you, Dr. Boone – this was powerful and spoke to me on so many levels.

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