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Monday, January 9, 2017

Your Kingdom Come

Last summer, we covered the span of the Torah (Pentateuch) when we walked through the first five books of the Bible.  After that we wanted to know if the parents were successful in building a strong faith into their children, so we continued on to Joshua.  Next, we watched Israel fall away from God throughout the book of Judges, but held on to hope as we saw the faithfulness of Ruth and Naomi.

In the days of the Judges, we learned that “Israel had no king, so they did whatever they wanted.”  Looking back at this statement, it has become clear that they had a King during that time.  Their King was God.  They just did not acknowledge or follow their King.

As we look and move forward into 2017, we are going to continue through the Old Testament into Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and other related books.  As we do, we are going to remind ourselves that these are not just stories about people who lived thousands of years ago.  These are stories that relate to us still today.  Why?  Because Jesus often talked about the Kingdom of God.  God was not just their King.  God is our King as well.  Remember how Jesus taught us to pray?

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:5-8 ESV)

Notice how what he begins teaching us about prayer.  Prayer is about connection and communication with God.  It’s not about showing off for people so they think you’re all Holy and Righteous.  It’s not about knowing a bunch of the “right words,” so we can convince God to see things our way.  Prayer, Jesus teaches us, is the most authentic when are alone…communicating simply with God.  When we pray, Jesus gives us some priorities to talk about.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10 ESV)

Sometimes, when I pray this prayer, I think about God’s Kingdom coming in the future.  I look forward to the day when Jesus returns, the dead are raised from the grave, we are all given new bodies, and we are caught up into heaven.  I envision a New Heaven and a New Earth as described by the Apostle John.  But when I do that, I don’t think about God’s Kingdom as something that can be present here on earth today.

Jesus teaches us, though, that our prayer is about here today: “on earth as it is in heaven.”  It doesn’t end there.  Since he taught us to pray this prayer alone, without trying to influence others, the prayer is pointed right at us.  In other words, we are praying, “Your Kingdom come and your will be done in me, just as it is in heaven.”

Prayer is not about showing off to others.  Prayer is not even about influencing others.  Nor is prayer is not about convincing God to agree with us.  Prayer is about aligning ourselves with the God who created the heavens and the earth and still holds all things together.  Prayer is about remembering, acknowledging, and allowing God to be King.  God is already the King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords.  But when we pray as Jesus taught us, we move our minds, hearts, and lives to the place where God is our Lord and our King.

How about you?  Do you pray in the way Jesus taught us to pray?  Do you start by acknowledging God as your King?  Do you ask God to bring His Kingdom and his Will into your mind, heart and life…just as it is in heaven?