Learning to Pray: Part Two
The Steward’s Commitment
We are on a five-week journey reflecting on Jesus’s instructions to His disciples on how they should pray – what we know as The Lord’s Prayer. We are considering how The Lord’s Prayer reflects the journey of the faithful steward, and to do so we are breaking it down into five sections:
- The Steward’s Cry – Our Father, hallowed be your name
- The Steward’s Commitment – your kingdom come, your will be done
- The Steward’s Confidence – our daily bread
- The Steward’s Confession – forgive us as we forgive
- The Steward’s Courage – deliver us
We are using the text from Matthew 6 from the New International Version, and today we will meditate on the following words, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
My hope it to share with you the wonderful blessing I’ve received as the Spirit has been teaching me how our commitment to be faithful stewards is beautifully woven into this way of praying. While that shouldn’t surprise us, it has revolutionized my prayer life, and I hope there is a substantial blessing for you in this as well.
The Steward’s Commitment
Directly following Jesus’s affirmation of God as both the sovereign Lord to be hallowed, and a personal, intimate Father to be loved, the prayer moves to God’s kingdom. The focus remains on all that is God’s. It is your kingdom that we are to long for and your will we are to do.
This second line is so closely tied to the first. The only way we can pray, “your kingdom come” is if we have already acknowledged that God is the Lord, the owner of everything. If God is sovereign, if God is in control, if God’s plans cannot fail, then we can pray with confidence for the ultimate coming of His kingdom. We long for the return of Jesus when, “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11) As sojourners in this world we wait eagerly for – and according to Jesus’s instructions, pray for – that glorious day when, “the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’. (Revelation 7:17).
But we are not there yet. We are called to be faithful stewards in this time between the first coming of Jesus when He ushered in the kingdom of God, and His second coming when its full consummation will be manifest. In this time in between, what does it mean to pray your kingdom come?
Well, how is the kingdom of God made known in our world today? It happens every time we act obediently and allow Jesus to be seen in us, to the glory of God. God’s kingdom is made known when God’s people live according to the values of that kingdom. God’s kingdom is ‘come’ when our commitment to the first half of the great commandment, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” compels us to surrendered, selfless service and obedience to the second half of the great commandment, “and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40) God’s kingdom comes in and through us when we so abide in the vine that the fruit of the Spirit flows out of us and touches the lives of everyone we encounter. (John 15) In a world that grows darker day by day, our prayer, “your kingdom come” commits us to a life of the surrendered steward when the world sees in us only love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
This prayer is a steward’s prayer because it requires us to surrender, to commit everything we are back to Him. Only then can His Spirit so flow through us that we become conduits for the kingdom of God to be made known in this time between the times. To pray, ‘your kingdom come’ is to give God full control of your life, and expect he will do amazing things as the power of the Holy Spirit moves through you in ways far beyond your own strengths and abilities. And so we pray,
Lord Jesus, may your kingdom be seen through me today in the way the fruit of your Spirit can touch the lives of everyone I encounter. Let people experience the presence of your kingdom wherever I am present with them.
The second half of this petition follows logically. If God’s kingdom is to be made known today through us, as obedient faithful stewards, then we are left with only one great desire; that our will would be God’s will and God’s will would be our will. I suspect in heaven there is no need for angels to pray that they may know God’s will and do it faithfully. It is part of their very being. They were created to know and do the will of God in heaven. Our prayer is that we may be so engrafted into the vine that knowing God’s will and doing it is are as easy to us here ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’
This requires the daily dying to our own will, to our own kingdom building. Our old, sinful nature pulls at us to hold onto and control those things that serve us. The countering prayer of the owner is, “my kingdom come, my will be done.” We must name every place in our spirit where this ownership urge still lies lurking.
Lest we beat ourselves up, we must remember that our precious Savior struggled with exactly the same thing in Gethsemane. It’s rather startling that at the first moment of commencing his passion, Jesus would petition of the Father whether suffering and the cross might be set aside. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42) In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, when Jesus utters these words, Satan’s eyes rise in anticipation, even surprise. This is the moment he’d been hoping for. The cross, eternity, the salvation of the world, suddenly hanging in the balance. We face the same temptation whenever we attempt to play the owner of our life, grasp for control and trust in our own strengths and abilities. It is a far different thing to go our way and ask God to bless it than it is to submit our ways to him and only go when he clearly directs. And so, Jesus utters this short statement on our behalf, for us and for everyone who ever struggles with the desire to maintain control over their life. But He does not stop there. He finishes this petition with words that changed history forever, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Matthew 26:39)
Through the power of the Holy Spirit you and I can know this same victory in our prayer life. As faithful stewards God calls us and equips us to commit everything back to Him. And in that state of surrender, we can pray that His kingdom may be known through us in our day, as we await its cosmic confirmation through Him on His day. And we can ask that He shape and form our will to conform to His desire, trusting Him as our loving heavenly Father, the Lord and ruler of all things.