In a first-world culture, such as ours, it may be difficult to produce the type of longing that “Thy kingdom come” elicits. We live in relative comfort and know little of the type of suffering experienced in third-world cultures. Yet, even in our relative ease, we can see that the world is not all it could be. Prayer aligns our will with God’s and leads us to God-honoring action.
God created humankind in “his image” to have dominion and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26-28, cp. Psalm 8). The Hebrew word translated image means representative. We were created to represent God’s values and effect his will over his created order. The gospel writer Matthew frequently refers to this entrusted ruler-ship as “the kingdom of earth.” Regrettably, humanity often confuses dominion with domination and subduing with suppressing. The Kingdom of Earth was supposed to align with the Kingdom of Heaven. However, the Kingdom of Earth and the Kingdom of Heaven have gone out of alignment. We choose selfish desires over God’s desires. We provoke violence, pollute creation, and even use our grandest technological advances for ill will. The pages of history and the pages of the newspaper attest to our rebellion.
Have you ever driven a vehicle with severely compromised wheel alignment? What happens? The entire vehicle is effected: the wheels pull to the side, tires wear uneven, fuel economy declines. By praying “Thy kingdom come,” we pray that – by God’s power in us and in the world – the realm of humanity would be realign with the realm of heaven. We pray that it comes today and fully at the consummation of the age.
In the play, Mother Courage, a developmentally challenged girl named Kattrin is temporarily given to the care of a peasant family. Enemy soldiers seize the peasants homestead to invade and destroy a nearby town. The peasants fall to their knees and pray for God’s mercy on the town. Meanwhile, Kattrin sneaks off, climbs to the roof of a stable, and begins beating a drum. The sound of the drum warns the town, which gives them time to defend themselves. The scene portrays prayer as a futile alternative to effective action. Prayer is never an excuse for inaction. When we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, we pray God would use us to bring about his kingdom. Prayer aligns our will with God’s and leads us to God-honoring action. How is God leading you to join him in bringing about his kingdom?
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