The Lord's Day Morning
May 23, 2010
“How to Pray (2): Kingdom Come”
Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III
Praise waits for Thee in Zion, Lord, to Thee vows paid shall be. O Thou that hearer art of prayer, all flesh shall come to Thee. Let us praise God.
As we prepare to worship today we are going to be in the Lord's Prayer again. I want to read you J.C. Ryle's words about the second petition, “Your kingdom come.” That's the petition we're going to be studying especially today and Ryle says this:
“We are next taught to pray that God's kingdom may come — ‘Your kingdom come.’ — In so saying, we declare our desire that the usurped power of Satan may speedily be cast down, that all mankind may acknowledge God as their lawful King, and that the kingdoms of this world may become in fact as they are in promise the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. The final setting up of this kingdom has been long predicted even from the day of Adam's fall. The whole creation groans in expectation of it. The last prayer of the Bible points to it. The canon of Scripture almost closes with the words, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’”
Let's prepare to worship Him.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ever Three and ever One, we come before You, the One true and Living God to worship, to adore, to magnify, to bless Your holy name. You are the Creator of all there is and in Jesus Christ You have become our Savior and our Redeemer. We thank You for the work of the Holy Spirit poured out on the Day of Pentecost. We bless You that He fills us and gifts us and motivates us and enables us and impels us and convicts us. And we pray today as we worship You as a company of Your people that Your Word might dwell richly within our hearts, that our voices might be raised in exultant song to You, that we might worship You in spirit and in truth. Come, O Lord, we pray and bless us now. We ask it all in Jesus' name. Amen.
Please be seated.
If you have your Bibles I'd invite you to turn with me to Luke chapter 11. We’ll be looking again at verses 1 through 4 and making our way through the Lord's Prayer, the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples in response to their request that He teach them how to pray.
Let's pray before we study on prayer.
Our Heavenly Father, Your Son taught us to pray to our Father and we acknowledge that we can only do so by the help of Your Spirit. So ask Your Spirit to help us today in Jesus' name. Amen.
This is God's Word. Hear it:
“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’’”
Amen, and thus ends this reading of God's holy, inspired, and inerrant Word. May He write its eternal truth upon all our hearts.
As we began studying Jesus’ model prayer last week we said one of the key things that Jesus teaches us there is to pray the Bible. That is, when the disciples say to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray,” all of the things that He tells them to pray, and us through them, come from the Bible. Each of the five petitions that Luke records — “Our Father who is in heaven,” “Hallowed be Your name,” “Your kingdom come,” “Give us this day our daily bread,” “Forgive us our sins,” “Lead us not into temptation,” — all of those things come right off of the pages of the Old Testament. You wouldn't just find one passage but many passages in the Hebrew Bible that would encourage believers to pray exactly those things. So Jesus is outlining biblical prayer. He's pushing them back into the Scriptures in order to pray and that's why we mentioned Matthew Henry's, A Method for Prayer, in the first place last week. Matthew Henry, sometime in the early 1700's, sat down, opened his Bible at the kitchen table, and began to write down the first verse that came to mind around the pattern of the outline of prayer that Jesus gave, and that has been used ever since by believers in prayer, and filled up that outline with Scripture.
And his method for prayer is simply to pray using Scripture. That's what the method is. There's nothing secret or nothing incredibly sophisticated about what he's suggesting in this method. It's just taking the Bible and praying the Bible back to God. And that's following Jesus’ instruction.
Now there are two more things that I want to say by way of preface to our study today. We’re going to be looking at the second petition, “Your kingdom come,” but before we get there, as we think about praying the Bible, what Jesus said to the disciples in this passage also brings to mind two other things.
The first is this: Jesus’ petitions, the things He tells the disciples to pray here, point to a certain priority in prayer. In other words, our prayers should reflect the priority of God's kingdom in our hearts. We must seek first God's kingdom in our prayer. Note the order of prayer that Jesus gives in this passage. First it's God and His glory, then it's us and our needs. First it's God's name, then it's God's reign, then it's our daily bread, our forgiveness, and our deliverance.
So the order that Jesus gives focuses first on God and His glory, then on us and our needs.
Now that's hugely important and it's hugely important because very often the thing that motivates us most in our praying is a sense of our dire circumstances and needs. That is, my guess is, for all of us we are most fervent in prayer when we feel most troubled and vulnerable. And when we feel most troubled and vulnerable, what do we pray about? What do we focus on? We focus on God getting us out of that trouble. Or if we're a little more spiritual we pray on God getting us through that trouble. And when we pray like that, and it's of course very appropriate to do both of those things, the temptation is to view God as a means to an end. The end is us getting out of trouble, or if we're a little more mature, getting through that trouble. And what is the means for us getting out of that trouble or through that trouble? It's God. And Jesus is saying, that is upside down. That's upside down because the big thing in life is God and His glory.
So how do we pay attention to this priority in prayer? Well, it might be when you find yourself in trouble it might be financial trouble. It might be marital trouble. It might be family trouble. It may be vocational trouble. It may be trouble of all sorts. Your temptation is to pray for deliverance from or through that trouble and God as the means, whether it's ordinary or extraordinary, whether it's usual or unusual deliverance, from or through that trouble. God is the means to the end.
And Jesus is saying, “Don't pray that way. That's upside down. You pray that God would be glorified in your trouble, that God will be seen to be great in your trouble, that you will see God's greatness, that you will see God's glory in that trouble. Yes it's appropriate to pray for deliverance from that trouble. Yes it's appropriate to pray for deliverance through that trouble, but your ultimate concern even through that trouble ought to be God's name, God's kingdom, God's glory, God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven.” And this is one of the ways that Jesus turns our prayers right side up because God is not just a means to an end. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and in the end what matters is that God gets the glory.
You remember when I quoted to you the words of Melanie Harvey, the wife of Jay Harvey. Melanie said in response to her parents saying to her — she's suffering this incredibly difficult illness — and they say to her, “The important thing, Melanie, is for you to get better.” And she said, “No, the important thing is for God to get the glory.” That's exactly what Jesus is saying here in our prayers that ought to be reflected. That means in prayer we want to translate our earthly trials and tribulations and struggles into spiritual categories so that as we pray for them we're praying ultimately for God's cause.
Lord, I'm financially troubled. I do ask that You would bring me relief from these financial troubles, but it's more important that I see Your glory in this than I be delivered from this. It is more important that others see Your glory in me whether You deliver me from this or not.
You see the difference in those prayers? A prayer simply for God to deliver you in financial difficulty as opposed to praying for God to be glorified in your financial difficulty while still praying for the Lord to deliver you from it, but being able to say with the Lord, “Nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done.” Why? Because God's glory is ultimate.
It's interesting that Brister Ware tells me that one of the most common things that happens when he's praying with people, especially towards the end of life, is for people to tell him that he may not pray, “Your will be done.” They’ll say, “You may not pray for my mother or for my father or for my loved one, ‘God's will be done.’ You must pray that they’ll be healed.” And of course Brister's hands are tied. He takes his marching orders from the Lord Jesus, not from us. And so if that's the terms of the engagement there's going to be no prayer!
Now why do we have to pray, “Your will be done” whenever we pray? Because God is first, because God's glory is the most important thing in the world, and if we don't pray with that heart attitude of a concern for God's glory and for His will to be done prayer is upside down. This happens in prayer all the time. Prayer becomes an exercise of self-sovereignty rather than an acknowledgement of God's sovereignty. And Jesus, even in the order of this prayer, is turning prayer right-side up again. So I want you to see the priority of prayer.
But secondly I want you to see the pattern of prayer. I think a lot of us think that to be really spiritual prayer ought to be always spontaneous, totally unplanned. And Jesus, even in answering this question, makes it clear that that's not the case. He says, “When you pray, pray, ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us our daily bread. Forgive us our sins. Deliver us from temptation.’”
Now notice that what He's just given you is a pattern of prayer and He didn't give words for His disciples simply to repeat by rote. In fact, in Matthew 6 He makes a point of saying, “Don't just repeat stuff by rote in prayer.” Now we say the Lord's Prayer in public worship, but we don't say that because we think that Jesus was just giving us these words as a mantra to repeat every time we pray. Jesus wasn't just giving these as words as a mantra to repeat every time we pray. He was giving us an outline. A pattern for prayer. And just look at what He's given you.
He's first told you to pray, “Hallowed be Your name.” Look at Luke 11:2 — “Hallowed be Your name.” What's that? Worship the Father in prayer — hallowed be Your name. Second — “Your kingdom come.” Pray for the kingdom of you Father in prayer. So worship your Father in prayer — “Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” — pray for the kingdom of you Father — “Your kingdom come” — third, “Give us each day our daily bread” — pray for the provision of your Father. Not only worship your Father in prayer, not only pray for the kingdom of your Father, but pray for the provision of your Father, that your Father will provide for you what you need — perfectly appropriate to pray that. Fourth — “Forgive us our sins” — pray for the grace of your Father.
One of the things that we're going to say today is that in each of these five petitions in Luke we see how the Gospel connects to prayer. There is no aspect of prayer that is unconnected to the Gospel. The Gospel touches every aspect of prayer. We’ll see it even as we pray today but this one's pretty obvious, isn't it? “Forgive our sins” — that's very obvious how directly connected to the Gospel it is. There is no forgiveness of sins apart from the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and so this prayer is a thoroughly Gospel-centered prayer.
And then, “Lead us not into temptation.” That's the protection of the Father. So look at the outline that you have. The worship of the Father, the kingdom of the Father, the provision of the Father, the forgiveness of the Father, and the protection of the Father. He's just given you Biblical categories to fill in with your prayer. Not just words to repeat by rote but categories.
One reason we say the Lord's Prayer together is so that those categories are so fixed in your mind that when it comes time for you to pray you don't’ just repeat those words by rote but you can fill in those categories with Scripture, Scripture that you have owned yourself so that the Scripture itself becomes your prayer and not just you repeating back the syllables that you find on the pages of the Bible. So we see here a priority in Jesus’ prayer and we see a pattern that He gives us for prayer.
Now that having been said, let's zero-in on the second petition, “Your kingdom come.”
And I want to suggest to you that if you pray this prayer rightly there will be four ways in which you manifest your prayer, “Your kingdom come.” It will be a prayer of destruction, a prayer of construction, a prayer of conversion, and a prayer of completion. Let me explain what I mean by that. If we pray the way that Jesus teaches us to pray in Matthew 11 in the Lord's Prayer, our prayers will reflect a heart's desire that Satan's kingdom will be destroyed. In other words, what I'm saying to you is prayer is an act of war. Have you ever thought of it that way? Prayer is an act of war. Prayer always involves asking God to destroy Satan's kingdom. It's an act of war.
Let me ask you to take your hymnals in hand and turn with me to the very back of the hymnal. I think it's page 877 and look at the one hundred and second question of The Shorter Catechism if you don't have it memorized. And the answer to the one hundred and second question of The Shorter Catechism is — the question of course is, “What do we pray for in the second petition?” — the answer is:
“In the second petition, which is ‘Thy kingdom come,’ we pray that Satan's kingdom may be destroyed and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.”
Now I don't know if you know this, but that broke down four aspects to the petition that we lift us when we say the words, “Your kingdom come.” That's all I'm doing. I'm just outlining that for you now. It's a prayer of destruction, it's a prayer of construction, it's a prayer of conversion, and it's a prayer of completion – following the outline that the Catechism gives there because it's so biblical.
I. A prayer of destruction — Satan's kingdom would be destroyed.
So the first thing we do is we pray that Satan's kingdom would be destroyed. Any concern that we have to see God's kingdom built up, to see the church built up, necessarily requires opposition to Satan's power because what is the biggest threat to the building up of the church. What is the biggest threat to the advancement of the kingdom? The world, the flesh, and the devil. And so if you want to see the church built up, if you want to see God's kingdom expand, what has to happen? The world, the flesh, and the devil have to be assaulted. Now what does Jesus say in Matthew chapter 16? That “the gates of hell will not prevail against the Rock.” Now that means that when we're praying, “Your kingdom come,” it's always got to be in our minds, “Lord, win against the gates of hell. Break them down. Break them down.” So let's do that right now. Let's just practice this together. Let's pray, “Your kingdom come,” and let's pray with a view to the destructive work of God in the building of His kingdom. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, we are painfully aware that there are great enemies in this world set up against Your rule, against Your name, against Your glory. Among them are the world, the flesh, and the devil. We pray, O Lord, that You would bring down satanic strongholds. We pray that You would prevail against the worldly system which worships the creature rather than the Creator and especially Lord we pray that You would win against the flesh, against our flesh, for we have seen the enemy and it is us. So we ask, O Lord, that You would tear down the strongholds of the world the flesh and the devil, that You would prevail against Your enemies, that You would arise and conquer, that the gates of hell would not be able to prevent Your victory, that You would break them down, that You would ransack that place, and that Your reign would be unchecked. Start with us, O Lord, because there are desires that we have that are ungodly and there is behavior that we participate in that does not bring You glory, and so we ask that You would break down Satan's rule in our flesh and that You would enable us to resist the temptation to conform to the world but that we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And we pray that even Satan himself, though he would sift us as wheat, would be held in check. So even though he prowls around like a devouring lion seeking who he may consume, that we would not stumble and fall and be taken and devoured but that we would be protected and spared. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
II. A prayer of construction — that God's kingdom would be built.
So if we're going to pray, “Your kingdom come,” we're going to pray that Satan's kingdom would be destroyed but we're also going to pray for the construction of God's kingdom.
Now we don't build the kingdom. A lot of people us that language that we build the kingdom. We don't extend the kingdom. Whenever the kingdom is used in the New Testament guess who builds it? God. Guess who extends it? God.
God builds His kingdom but God's people care that God's kingdom be built. And so you know what they do? They pray that God's kingdom would be built. And so when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are praying as the Catechism says, that the kingdom of grace may be advanced. Our prayers reflect a heart desire that God's rule would be advanced. That's a prayer for the construction of the kingdom. That's something that's of the utmost important to a believer — the establishment and progress of God's kingdom and church. And so our practice of prayer, the prayers that we pray, will reflect the concerns of our heart in this matter. Our prayers will show that we are really focused on God's work in the world and the establishment of His rule in the hearts of men. We pray for our church and our city like this, that God's kingdom would be built. Well let's do that. Let's pray right now.
Lord, by Your favor You do good design and You build the walls of Jerusalem. You’re the One who calls Your people and changes Your people. You’re the One who protects Your people. You’re the One who builds up Your people. You’re the One who builds the church. It was by Your blood that the church was forgiven. It was by Your action that the church was created. And we pray that You would build Your church. We pray that Your rule would be established in this our church. We pray that we would be Your disciples, loyal to You and not to the world. We pray that there would be no earthly treasure or power to which we would have more allegiance than You. We pray that Your kingdom would be so established in our hearts that our hearts are utterly loyal to You and to You alone and that we would be ready to betray any earthly demands on our allegiance in order to be loyal to You. We pray that Your kingdom would be established in Jesus' name. Amen.
III. A prayer for conversion
And then we pray for conversion. We not only pray for destruction when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we not only pray for construction when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we pray for conversion. Did you listen to the language of the Catechism – that ourselves and others would be brought into the kingdom of grace and kept in it. That's a prayer for conversion. We can't pray, “Your kingdom come,” we can't pray for the general advancement of God's rule without desiring to see it more achieved in our own lives and to see others brought in to the righteous rule of God's kingdom. And furthermore as Christians, as mature Christians, we can never be indifferent about our neighbors’ entrance into the kingdom. Do we pray for conversion? Do we care about that? Is it part of our prayer? Let's pray it right now together.
Lord, the apostle Paul prayed that it was his heart's desire and prayer for his own people that they would be saved. We pray this for ourselves and for others. Lord I pray that every adult in this congregation would truly believe, would be converted, would be a disciple-making disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray for every young child that they would grow in wisdom and knowledge and in stature and in love for the Lord so that they come to profess faith in Him, to confess Him as Lord and Savior, to embrace Him for their salvation as He is offered in the Gospel. And for every infant in this congregation we pray for the day when through the nurture and admonition of the Lord those infants come to stand and in faith embrace the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. We pray that we would be a converted congregation. And we pray O Lord for Your converting work not only in this congregation but in Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting congregations all over this city. We pray that there would be conversions in this city like have never been seen before. And we pray that the whole tenor of life in our community would be changed by Your converting work. And we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
IV. A prayer for the completion of God's Kingdom.
And then finally we pray when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we pray for the completion of God's kingdom. We live now under the kingdom of grace. We know that. We've been forgiven. But God's kingdom has not come in all of it's fullness until the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea and that's why we pray for completion when we pray, “Your kingdom come.”
Our prayers should reflect a heart's desire for the coming of the kingdom in its fullest glory. You remember the J.C. Ryle quote that I read before the service today? He said, “What's the last prayer of the Bible? Come, Lord Jesus.” Do you understand what you’re praying for when you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus”? You’re not just praying that Jesus would come again though you are praying that.
When you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” you’re praying, “Lord, I want Your kingdom to come,” because when the King comes, guess what comes with Him? The kingdom in its finality, in its fullness, in its completion. When the King comes again every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord one way or the other, whether willingly or by compulsion. And so we're praying for the kingdom to come in its fullness when we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
That reminds us, among other things, that our work is never done here. You know how we say, “A mother's work is never done”? That's true, but a believer's work is never done here because God's work is never done here until Jesus comes. And that means we never get complacent, we never rest on our laurels. God's kingdom is never expanded enough in our hearts until Jesus comes. So when we pray, “Your kingdom come” one of the things that we're always thinking about is the completion of that kingdom. So let's pray for that right now together.
Lord, he who testifies says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly,’ and so we say, ‘Amen! Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.’ We live under the kingdom of grace by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ but we long for the kingdom of glory to come, O Lord. We long to see the fullness of Your grace reigning in the hearts of men and women and boys and girls from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation and Jesus acknowledged for who He is — the One who has the name which is above every name. So we pray Your kingdom come and we pray that this would ever be the pray of our hearts and that You would hear it and answer it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Well my friends, this is just an outline of Biblical prayer that Jesus is giving us. And when He tells us, “Pray, Your kingdom come,” He's not just giving you words to repeat back like a mantra. He's encouraging you to pray that God's kingdom would come in the destruction of Satan's kingdom, that God's kingdom would come in the building up of His own kingdom, that God's kingdom would come in the conversion of men and women and boys and girls, and that God's kingdom would come finally in its completion when Jesus comes again.
Let's conclude in prayer following Matthew Henry's outline for this petition of the Lord's Prayer. Let's pray together.
O Lord, if Your name is going to be sanctified and glorified, if Your name is going to be considered holy, if it's going to be honored, if it's going to be hallowed, then Your kingdom must come, for Yours is the kingdom, Lord, and You’re exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You. You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might. It's in Your hand to make great and to give strength. And, O Lord, we long for everyone to acknowledge that the kingdom is Yours, that You are the ruler of the nations, and that Your rule is so evident that even among the heathen they have to say, ‘The Lord reigns,’ and that all fear and declare the works of the Lord and say, ‘Truly there is a God who judges in the earth.’ So make everyone, even the kings of this earth, to know that the heavens are ruled by the Most High, and that He is the One who reigns in the kingdom of men, and that He gives it to whomsoever He will, and He has given it to His Son, our Lord, so that the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever. Come, Lord Jesus. We pray it in Your name. Amen.
Well, let's respond to this taking your bulletins and we’ll sing the final four stanzas of John Newton's hymn, “Behold the Throne of Grace!”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.