Key to prayer: praying for God's Kingdom
[read Luke 11:1-13]
[Matthew 6:5-10 When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.] I have been doing a series on prayer. I had mapped out the keys to prayer I was going to deal with and last time's message was the final one, then Rhoda and I were doing our morning reading together from Watchman Nee's "A Table in the Wilderness" and I realised that I had missed out a vital aspect of prayer – so there is one more in the series – this is what we read: "Matthew 18:18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. "Whatever": these are precious words. Here heaven is measured by earth, for there is always more power in heaven than the measure of our asking; there is always more to be loosed or bound in heaven than we ask down here. Why do we seek deliverance from sin? Why are we always crying to God for enduement with power? To pray "Thy will be done in me" is a good beginning no doubt, but we must go on to "Thy will be done on earth". The children of God today are taken up with far too small things, whereas their prayer is intended for the release of heaven's mighty acts. Prayer for myself or my own immediate concerns must lead on to prayer for the Kingdom. In this the Church should be heaven's outlet, the channel of release for heaven's power, the medium of accomplishment of God's purpose. Many things have accumulated in heaven because God has not yet found His outlet on earth; the Church has not yet prayed." The vital key to prayer that I omitted was "praying for God's Kingdom" – this should be the theme of all prayer but how seldom it ever is. Praying for God’s Kingdom. This is what Jesus told us to pray for - the first request in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples was : “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In fact the two are the same thing: when God’s will is done here on earth - immediately, unquestioningly just as it is in heaven, then God is ruling, He is King, His Kingdom has come. Last time we looked at the prayer of Jesus - His piety - it was that highest of all prayers that He prayed in the Garden - “Not my will but Yours be done”. I said that piety (εὐλάβεια) was reverent submission, that is the essence of prayer - not getting God to do what you want, but aligning your will with His, so that your deepest desire and will is exactly the same as God Himself’s. Now when your will is identical with God’s, you will do His will, that is: God will be ruling. So the essence of prayer is coming to the place where God rules. True prayer is coming to the place where you are perfectly aligned with God’s will, His priorities are your priorities, His purpose and goal is your purpose and goal, His heart becomes your heart - and what is God’s heart? His priority? His purpose? His goal? - in a word HIS KINGDOM!
We preach the Gospel, or I hope we do, we are concerned for the salvation of our fellow man, we don’t want people to go to a lost eternity, we want them to have life - don’t we? Have you ever thought how man-centred, how humanistic that is. The motivation, primarily is for man. O.K. it is for other men, sure it is God’s will for them to be saved but we have got the cart before the horse! Doesn’t Jesus want men to be saved, didn’t He heal people, cast out demons, raise the dead? Yes, but why? When He did he said that the Kingdom of God had drawn near, it was to demonstrate God’s Kingdom! When He sent out the disciples healing and casting out demons, they were to say that the Kingdom of God had drawn near. There is no sickness in Jesus realm, so when He demonstrated His rule He healed the sick. There is no evil in His kingdom, so when He came He cast out demons. It was not primarily for the benefit of man but for the demonstration of His rule, His kingdom. We have perverted the Gospel and our whole endeavour into a man centred club, where we help our fellow man. The first key to prayer I mentioned was “to pray for God’s glory”. God must be the centre, the reason, the motivation, not man. We do not exist to help our fellow man, that is humanism, that is the social gospel. We have been made into a kingdom of priests. The reason we were chosen and called is for God’s Kingdom. God’s purpose is for Jesus to reign. The reason we exist is for Jesus to reign. The reason and one subject of our prayer is for Jesus to reign. Do we pray for the sick? Yes, but the motivation is that Jesus may be ruling, and there is no sickness in His Kingdom. Do we pray for people to be saved? Yes but the reason is that Jesus may rule in their lives, that they may be subject to Him, not just that they may benefit! "Jesus shall reign where ‘ere the sun, doth its successive journeys run. His Kingdom stretch from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.” It is not what we pray for - the motivation in what we pray for is everything. We pray for others, not just so their life is made easy, made better but in order that Jesus reign be established here on earth, that God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Is there sickness in heaven? - no! so we pray that that may be the case here on earth. Is there evil in heaven? No! so we pray that that may be the case here on earth. Praying for God’s Kingdom alters your whole perspective - no longer are your prayers man centred and selfish - they are no longer petty and limited they have eternal weight and significance.
When Jesus came He preached the Gospel, the Good News, not of salvation but the KINGDOM! John who prepared the way for Him did the same [Matthew 3:1,2 Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”]. Jesus preached exactly the same message as John [Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”] So did the apostles when they preached the Gospel. Salvation 49 times in NASB, kingdom 160 times, 53 times in Matthew’s gospel alone! “Kingdom of God” 66 times; and “Kingdom of heaven” 32 times. The Sermon on the Mount was the sermon of the Kingdom, eight times it is mentioned. Jesus’ parables explained the mystery of the Kingdom the parables of Matthew 13 were all about the kingdom - 12 times it is mentioned, in that chapter, as are the parables of Matt 18, 20, 22 and 25.] His healing was an integral part of His message of the Kingdom [Matthew 4:23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. Matt 9:35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.] What is the message that will be preached at the end? [Matthew 24:14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.]We talk about being “born again” - why? What for? [John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.] The psalmist was taken up with the theme of the kingdom - I haven’t time to go into the O.T. references because they are so numerous and vast in scope. In particular psalms 93-99 are all about the coming Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is the major subject of prophecy - their major theme was the coming of the Promised One, the Messiah - Messiah means anointed one - anointed with oil to commission Him as King. The disciples understood this full well, though they misunderstood the Kingdom as Jesus becoming King in Jerusalem then and there, still they understood clearly what kingdom was all about. We don’t today - we see democracy as the ideal which is in total opposition to the idea of One Man ruling absolutely over all and the individual having no say. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, they were still looking for what? - the Kingdom. What did they preach? The kingdom. [Acts 1:3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 1:6-7 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 19:8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Acts 28:23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Acts 28:31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.] I cannot even begin to go into all the references on the subject - I’ve got some homework for you - go home and do a study, take a concordance and research the subject of the Kingdom - you will begin to appreciate what a major theme it is in the Scripture - God’s Word - it is what matters to God. Shouldn’t what matters to God be what matters to us? If He is taken up with His Kingdom ought we not to be consumed with it too? Some make the mistake of trying to make the Kingdom come themselves - establish the Kingdom for God, Kingdom theology. But it takes a king to make a kingdom. We cannot do it - only Christ can establish His Kingdom. How then can we? How are we to be involved? What can we do? One thing is to preach the Good News of the Kingdom - announce that the King is coming! Get ready! “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” The other way is to Pray for God’s Kingdom to come. This should be a major theme of our prayer. It is priority! [Revelation 1:6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come”]
Putting it into practice. How do you pray "Your Kingdom come."? What does that mean? how do you do it? What do you pray? What does it mean in practice? God's Kingdom is such a major theme in Scripture, find a passage, a prophecy concerning it and pray what is God's will into being. "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" Note you are praying for something on earth - not some intangible thing in heaven. What does Scripture say about God's rule? Align your will with that and plead the Father that what He has said come to pass. Here is a start. You will be able to find much more but here are a few ideas to start you off.
1.Praying for Christ's Coming. When we pray for God's Kingdom to dome we are in fact praying for Christ's return. [Psalm 110:1,2 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” Hebrews 10:12,13 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 16:22 If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha.]
2.Justice and righteousness. Justice and righteousness are the foundation of God's throne [Psalm 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; loving-kindness and truth go before You.] – this is what we should be praying for. Justice and righteousness go together - 106 occurrences in NASB. We see laws enacted in our country that are not based on righteousness, we see injustice – this should prompt us to seek a better regime, not an earthly one but Jesus' rule [Psalm 72:1-4 Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s son. May he judge Your people with righteousness and Your afflicted with justice. Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.]
3.Submission of the nations. When Jesus rules all will be in submission to His authority – this is what we should be seeking in prayer. This is what we want to come about, this is what we want God to establish. This is His will. [Isaiah 2:2-4 Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.] Notice it also a prayer for peace. [Isaiah 45:23 “I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.] - Jesus is Lord – it is prayer for His lordship.
4.God's rule - absolute authority. He has absolute rule – a harsh and strict rule: [Psalm 2:6-11 “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.” “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ ” Psalm 110:2 The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”]
5.God's purposes to be carried out. [Matthew 6:10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.] Praying for the end of man's schemes and plans – man's will being carried out. Don't you long for the end of inept human ideas, schemes and rule.
6.Vindication of the righteous, release for the oppressed A major theme of the prophets is justice, the righteous vindicated, the poor getting their rights. The big turn around – the weak and humble exalted and the proud, rich and powerful brought low – quite a strong theme in Jesus' teaching also.[1 Samuel 2:6-10 “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. “The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He set the world on them. “He keeps the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall a man prevail. “Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered; against them He will thunder in the heavens, the Lord will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to His king, and will exalt the horn of His anointed.”]
7.Reversal of the effects of satan's dominion – satan robbed man of his dominion at the fall – what we see now is his regime – we see the effects of his rule: sickness, death, oppression, misery. When Jesus rules that will all be reversed, back to how God intended "His will being done on earth as it is in heaven": healing, deliverance from demonic possession, end of death and decay. Sin will be removed [Psalm 101:6-8 My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me. He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity. Isaiah 11:1-10 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.]