ďYour Kingdom ComeĒ††††††††††††† Matthew 6:10a††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† July 18, 2010

 

SI:When we began our study of the Lordís Prayer four weeks ago,

†† I gave you an interesting comment about the Lordís Prayer

†† by the Latin Church Father Tertullian.

 

He called the Lordís Prayer ďa compendium of the Gospel.Ē

All the Gospel, all Christian theology, is found in the Lordís Prayer.

†† In one sense itís so simple that even a Christian child can pray it and understand,

†† but it also has a depth that the most mature Christian canít completely fathom.

 

I was struck by that in my study this week.

†† The petition of the Lordís Prayer weíre about to look at opens so many doors,

†† and has so many implications, that you canít even begin to cover them all.

 

So what I want to do this morning, is lean on the catechism.

†† Because it gives such a helpful, basic understanding for us.

Before we read the Scripture, as a way to get our minds warmed upó

†† letís recite this catechism question in unison.


 

INTRO:A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hearing Tim Keller speak

†† at a church planting conference in Memphis.

Most of you know who he is, but if you donít, heís the pastor of

†† Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

He planted that church about twenty years ago on Upper East Side of Manhattan.

†† It now has thousands of members and several congregations

†† meeting in different parts of the city.

 

As I said, this was a church planting conference, and Dr. Keller was talking about

†† the importance of planting churches in cities, how that was the strategy of

†† the Apostles, because Christians in cities have a greater influence on the culture.

He was explaining Redeemer Presbyterianís commitment to church planting

†† and said that their church has helped plant 100 churches in New York City.

 

And then the next thing he said was fascinating.

Of those 100 churches Redeemer has helped plant, only 15 of them are PCA.

†† Only 15 of the 100 are churches of our denomination, Presby Church in America.

All the others are churches of various other evangelical denominations.

 

For example, a Southern Baptist minister came to New York City

†† a few years ago with a desire to plant a church.

He had no denominational support and he came to Redeemer for help.

†† They coached him in church planting and supported him financially,

†† and now he has the largest Southern Baptist congregation in the city.

 

Dr. Kellerís comment was:The PCA canít reach everybody.

†† And besides, he said, we arenít interested in only growing our church

†† or our denomination, we want to advance the kingdom of God in New York City.

 

I think thatís a remarkable statement for several reasons.

†† But the reason I shared that story with you is because

†† itís such a helpful picture of the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is not just the churchó

†† whether weíre speaking of individual congregations, or denominations,

†† or even the church as a whole.

 

The church is certainly an outward manifestation of the kingdom.

†† But the kingdom of God is much bigger than the church.

 

Itís the reign of King Jesus.

†† His reign starts in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.

 

And then, from the hearts of his people, the influence of Christís reign

†† extends over their lives and behavior,

†† their marriages and families, their friends and interests,

†† their churches and schools and workplaces,

†† their neighborhoods and towns and cities,

†† and even the cultural and civic life of their nations.

 

The kingdom of God is the gentling effects of the Gospel,

†† changing individual people, and then spreading out in concentric circles,

†† and changing those they touch and influence.

The kingdom of God is the saving work of Christ in our own lives

†† and in the sweep of human history during this Gospel Age,

†† and in the Second Coming and the Age to Come.

 

The Lord says, When you pray, I want you to have that big view.

After you have praised God for who he is and thanked him for the good things he

†† has done for you and given you, then you should pray that his kingdom will come.††

Pray for the growth and advance and fulfillment of Godís plan of salvation

†† and the redemptive work of Christ in the world.

That should be one of your priorities in prayer,

†† and a grid through which you filter all your prayer requests.

 

Why?Two reasons.

First, in a mysterious, supernatural way, our prayers are one of the means

†† God uses to bring about his kingdom.I donít know how.Itís certainly not

†† in a way we can measure.But itís real. As we pray, his kingdom is advanced.

And second, and this is much easier to understand, as we pray for the kingdom,

†† it changes us.Changes our perspectives, our values, even our view of history.

†† As we pray for the kingdom, we become more kingdom-minded.

 

Letís look more carefully, and weíll use the outline from the catechism.

†† 1.You must pray that the kingdom of grace will be advanced.

†† 2.You must pray that the kingdom of darkness will be destroyed.

†† 3.You must pray that the kingdom of glory will be hastened.


 

MP#1You must pray that the kingdom of grace will be advanced.

One of the ways the New Testament speaks of salvation

†† is in terms of the kingdom of God.

 

Paul describes salvation as being delivered from the dominion

†† of darkness and being brought into the kingdom of Christ.

We are born into the kingdom of darkness.Our parents donít have to teach us

†† how to sin.We know how and we like it because we born with sinful natures.

So salvation is taking us out of that kingdom, and giving us citizenship in the

†† kingdom of God.Itís not just a change in our status, itís a change in the

†† way we think and act.Itís a change in our loyalty.

 

Christ himself described salvation as having the kingdom within you.

†† The idea is that when Godís grace really comes into your life, it starts to rule you.It starts to govern the way you think, and what you consider right and wrong,

†† and what is important to youóand that, of course, affects your behavior,

†† how you treat your family, how you use your words, how you work,

†† how spend your money, where you spend your time, and on and on.

And it transforms families and marriages and neighborhoods and nations.

 

One of the old Puritans put it this way:

†† ďWhen grace comes, there is a kingly government set up in the soul.

†† Grace rules the will and affections and brings the whole man in subjection to Christ.Ē

Isnít that a lovely way to express it?Jesus wants you to pray for that rule of grace.

 

First, pray this for yourself, that the kingdom of grace will be advanced

†† in your own soul and that you will personally come under the reign

†† of Christ more fully and completely.You know where you struggle.

You know the areas of your life that need to come more under his control.

 

Next, pray this for your spouse and your children.

†† Itís so easy with our children to pray for them to do well in school,

†† and make good grades, and have good friends, and be happy in work and love.

But all those things shouldnít be your first prayer for them.

†† It should be that they walk with Christ, and know his claim on their lives,

†† and love what he loves and hate what he hates, that they are kingdom-minded.

All your requests for them should be filtered through that grid.

†† Donít just pray that they will get a job so they will make lots of money and be

†† personally fulfilled.Pray that they will get a job so they can serve Christ.

Pray for your church, for its members and officers and staff.

†† Pray for other churches you know and love.

Because through the church people are brought into the kingdom and discipled.

†† And the church is the visible manifestation of Christís kingdom.

 

And pray for missionaries, because they are following a special calling

†† to advance the kingdom of grace in places where it is not known.

And even though all Christians canít go to the mission field,

†† all can have a part in the work through prayer.

Every week a missionary prayer letter or email is printed in the bulletin.

†† Take it home and use in your family devotions or your own prayers.

It will not only make you and your children more kingdom-minded,

†† you will be advancing the kingdom through your prayers.

 

Have you ever heard of the Haystack Prayer Meeting?

†† Itís one of the most significant events in American church history.

One Saturday afternoon in August, 1806, in Williamstown, Mass,

†† five Williams College students met in a field near the college to talk about

†† the spiritual needs of Asia and the possibility of missions.

 

You have to understand that missions, as we know it today, was not practiced

†† by the Protestant church 200 years ago.Churches and denominations did not

†† send out missionaries to foreign countries.Many people were opposed to it.

But the idea of missions was starting to stir in the church, these students were

†† talking about it when an afternoon thunderstorm blew in.So they ran to a

†† haystack in the field, and sat under it, and they began to pray for Asia.

 

Later one of them said that the suddenness of the storm, and the intimacy

†† of the place had a profound effect on them.After they prayed, pledged to act.

Two of them decided to go India.So they all organized a mission board to raise

†† money and support.Over next 50 years, that board sent 1200 missionaries.

†† Over next 150 years, that mission board sent 5000 missionaries to 34 countries.

That Haystack Prayer meeting changed the hearts of those who prayed,

†† and it advanced the kingdom.Wouldnít it be great of one of our own covenant

†† children answered that call and became a full-time missionary from this church?

Iím thrilled by the number of our graduates on mission trips this summer.

 

Pray for the kingdom of grace to be advanced, and not only will you be changed,

†† but you will have the privilege of participating in the kingdom.

But everywhere the kingdom of God advances, there is opposition.

†† That brings us to the second point:

MP#2You must pray that the kingdom of darkness will be destroyed.

When you pray that something will be destroyed, youíre cursing.

Should Christians ever curse?The immediate answer that comes to mind is no.

†† Jesus tells us to love our enemies.Jesus himself prayed, Father, forgive them.

†† Seems to be no way that Jesusí command and example would permit cursing.

But as you read the whole of Scripture,

†† you start to realize that the answer is more complicated.

 

Many of the Psalms contain curses.David asks God to destroy his enemies.

†† He says things like smash their teeth, O Lord.

†† May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.Psalm 109 a vivid example.

In Paulís letter to the Galatians he is very angry at false teachers in the church

†† and he says:Let them be Anathema.What does Anathema mean?

†† It means:God damn them to hell for their false teaching.

 

And in the book of Revelation there is a glimpse of heaven in chapter 5.

John sees souls of martyrs.Christians killed for faith in Christ.

†† What are the doing in heaven?Playing harps and singing Kum Ba Ya?No!

††† ďHow long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true,

†† until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?Ē

Here are the souls of the righteous made perfect cursing enemies of church.

†† Calling for God to bring them down for blood of Christians they have shed.

 

How can you love your enemies, pray that Father will forgive themó

†† at the same time pray with deep feeling for God to bring certain people down?

Does the Bible contradict itself?Is Paul contradicting himself when he writes:

†† ďBless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.Ē

†† ďIf anyone does not love the Lordóa curse be on him.Come, O Lord.Ē

No.This is not a contradiction.As a Christian you are commanded to love

†† enemies, and there are also times when a Christian must curse the enemies of

†† Godóas Paul did, and David, and saints in heaven do.

 

If your first and greatest prayer is:Your kingdom come.

Then you will also hope and pray that anything that stands against

†† the Kingdom of God will be brought down.

If youíre a true Alabama fan, what do you pray the day of the Auburn game?

†† ďO great Spirit of Bear Bryant:May Alabama be victorious on gridiron this day.Ē

And what is, by necessity, your next prayer?

†† ďAnd may Auburn go down in humiliating defeat.Ē

†† Your desire for victory means a corresponding desire for defeat of the other team.

Would a true Alabama fan ever say:

†† I want Alabama to win, donít want Auburn to lose?Of course not.

 

If you make the victory of Christís kingdom your first prayeró

†† you will by necessity pray for the defeat of all rival kingdoms.

This does not in any way give you permission to hate or curse people for

†† the personal harm they do to you.You have to love them and pray for blessing.

†† The curses in the Bible arenít personal vindictiveness.

They are prayers that the kingdom of darkness will be defeated.

 

I got a letter a number of year ago that I wish I had kept, a perfect illustration.

It was from a Christian man in a little chapel somewhere in the county.

†† He had sent the letter to all the churches in Cullman informing us

†† that he and his church were starting a ministry to meth addicts.

He had statistics about meth use in Cullman, but it was essentially a prayer letter.

†† And he had two prayer requests.

 

First, pray that the drug addicts who came to program would be delivered from

†† addiction and saved body and soul by Jesus Christ.

And second, pray that the meth makers and pushers and sellers would be destroyed.

†† He didnít use the word cursed, but thatís what he was asking us to pray.

†† To pray that God would smash the teeth of the wicked meth makers.

 

The manís Christian love was evident.

†† He would rejoice if every meth maker was saved and shut labs willingly.

But barring that, he wanted their destruction because they opposed

†† the work of the kingdom of God.

Good old Martin Luther summed it up well:

†† ďWe should pray that our enemies be converted and become our friends, and if not, that their

†† doing and designing be bound to fail and have no success and that their persons perish rather

†† than the gospel and the kingdom of Christ

Whenís the last time you prayed like that?

When is the last time you prayed so passionately for success of Christís kingdomó

†† that you also prayed for all the enemies to be cursed, starting with the enemies

†† in your own soul, your own pet sins and self-justifications?

 

I donít know your prayer life, but I donít pray that way nearly enough.

Because most of the time my prayer requests

†† are about the things that concern me only, not Godís kingdom,

†† but my little kingdom.Brings us to third point:

MP#3You must pray that the kingdom of glory will be hastened.

 

Whatís the kingdom of glory?Itís Christís Second Coming.

When we pray:Thy kingdom comeówe are ultimately praying for Jesus

†† to come back quickly and set all things right and wipe away every tear.

In fact, the Bible ends with this prayer.Revelation 22:20.

†† Jesus says:Yes, I am coming soon.

†† And the church answers:Amen.Come, Lord Jesus!

 

The Christians who pray the most for Jesus to come back soon are always

†† those who have faced persecution and suffering,

†† and have really fought against sin.

They long for the kingdom of glory to come and for things to be set right.

 

There was a man who worshipped in our Florida church who was a former

†† Assembly of God minister.But he had lost his pastorate and marriage

†† for moral reasons.And he worked in a convenience store.

Because of where he had been in life and where the Lord had taken him,

†† he had a keen sense of the brokenness of the world and the fight against sin.

Whenever anyone would buy beer, he would warn about dangers of drunkenness.

And woe to the man who asked for a Playboy.

†† He would argue with him, try to shame him, and if he insisted, he would

†† reach under the counter and put on a great big pair of gloves, and then pick up the

†† magazine with a pair of kitchen tongs.

I asked him how he kept his job, said store owner put up with it because he

†† knew this he was honest and hard-working.

 

This man had an expression that I though was just a verbal tickó

†† a holdover from his Assembly of God days.He would say:Glory!

He would say it when talking about something good.Glory!

†† He would say it when talking about something bad.Glory!

I began to realize, it was a prayer for him.His shorthand way of praying

†† that the kingdom of Glory will be hastened.That Christ will return and deal

†† with this world of sin and set up his kingdom of love and righteousness.

 

He gave us a Bible when moved, in gold letters on front: Andrew and Allison.

†† And on the back, also in gold:Jesus and Glory

How often do you pray that the kingdom of glory will be hastened?

†† How often to you pray:Lord Jesus, come quickly?

†† Often?Seldom?Never?Why donít you pray for him to come?

Iíll tell you why.

 

Because youíre more concerned, day to day with your own little kingdom.

We all have our own little kingdoms, donít we.

†† We have the places in our life where we exert some influence and want things

†† to go our wayómight be our work and career, our family, our finances,

†† or some other sphere of life.

You must deliberately pray:Thy kingdom come.Not, my kingdom come.

 

Do our prayers really hasten the day of his coming?

Thatís a hard question to answer.The Bible speaks of an appointed day.

†† A day determined in the unchanging counsel of Godís will.

But at the same time, the Bible says that when certain things happen, that day will

†† appear, things that we can doólike the preaching of Gospel to all nations,

†† and praying earnestly for his return.

So itís a mystery, letís leave it at that.

 

But what is not a mystery, in fact, itís quite clear,

†† is that praying for Jesusí return will change you.

It makes you more calm.The things you worry about, even the big

†† things will be put in perspective.I was talking to a church member this week

†† about the erosion of liberties in America and the historical pattern of decline.

We laughed when realized how worried we were making each other.

Hey, weíre citizens of the Kingdom of God.Christ is coming.

 

It will make you more contentówith your marriage, your work, life God has given.

†† Jesus Christ the King of Glory is coming.He has great things planned for you

†† This life is so short.Itís just a preparation for greater days.

It will give you a proper fear of sin as you ponder that he is coming soon.

†† Donít you want him to find you working and faithful?

And it will get you ready for death.

†† We think so little about death in our youth-worshipping culture,

†† but the hour of your death is approaching.

And nothing prepares you more than a lifetime of praying for that future kingdom.

John Calvin said it is the task of the church to make the invisible kingdom visible.

We do that by living in such a way that we bear witness to the reality

†† of the kingship of Christ in our jobs, our families, our schools, our checkbooks,

†† because Christ is king over every one of those spheres of life.

They arenít our kingdoms, they are his.

 

Were do we get power to live that way?

†† Christ has showed the wayóitís through prayer.

†† Itís by praying, oftentimes deliberately, and sometimes freelyó

†† that his kingdom will comeó

†† that the kingdom of grace will be advanced,

†† that the kingdom of darkness will be destroyed,

†† and that the kingdom of glory will be hastened.

 

Closer to home, if you are discontent with your marriage or work or life,

††

We agreed that America

letís just believe both of those things, and