The Lord’s Prayer June 17-18, 2023
“God’s Rule” Matthew 6:10
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
I really like it when I think you’re listening to what I say. A few folks said that they heard me say in my sermon last week that we pray the Lord’s Prayer too fast and now they are praying the Lord’s Prayer a little slooower. Thank you.
Today we look at the Second Petition in the Lord’s Prayer. It is a short prayer – “Thy Kingdom Come”. That’s it. Three words – Thy Kingdom Come. You have prayed the Lord’s Prayer thousands of times and you have probably noticed how it is designed. The first three petitions all begin with the word “Thy”. Hallowed (Holy) be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. It all begins with God. He is the foundation. His name. His kingdom. His will. After that the prayers about us begin. “Forgive us our sins.” “Give us our daily bread.” “Lead us not into temptation.” Deliver us from the evil one.”
What a great kingdom God has. Here is how I understand this kingdom of God. It is a kingdom of power. It is a kingdom of grace. It is a kingdom of glory. When you are praying for God’s kingdom to come you to you, or to others, you can be praying for a variety of needs.
Our God is mighty. He is powerful and strong. The Bible says that nothing is impossible for God. His kingdom, His rule, is powerful. This week I got to meet a lady that we’ve been praying for – Claudia Gray. Her mother, Edith Cushman, was a long-time member of this congregation. When I saw Claudia on Tuesday I found out about her ongoing battle with cancer. Since 2016 she has been battling cancer, it began in her colon and has migrated from one place to another. Recently she had a cancerous tumor removed from her brain.
What do we pray for in such persistent difficulties? God’s power. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t know how all this will go. But God can make a person courageous. He can give them faith and confidence. He is powerful to do great and miraculous things. When you pray to your great God know that His rule, His kingdom, is of power.
His kingdom is also a kingdom of grace. This prayer is for all of us. And it is a prayer for those who don’t believe in Jesus yet. “Thy kingdom come.” Jesus is the king of unmerited and free gifts. I hope that every one of you receives the gifts God has for you. When you trust in Jesus for your forgiveness and for the assurance of eternal life God’s rule of free grace has come to you. You are saved.
But we can’t just be concerned that we are going to heaven and that our sins have been forgiven. We have to have a burden for others who don’t know Jesus. Too many of those in our families and friends don’t know God’s love. Too many don’t trust in Jesus. Too many folks won’t be going to heaven. Paul was praying, “Thy Kingdom Come” when he said, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) Paul also asks for prayers for God’s kingdom to expand. In II Thessalonians he says, “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (3:1)
But there is going to come a time for you, and for your beloved, that God’s kingdom is not going to settle for life on this earth but it will be fulfilled in heaven. “Thy Kingdom Come” finally will mean being in the presence of God. St. Luke tells us about a man named Simeon who had been told that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. He entered the Temple in Jerusalem and after seeing the baby Jesus would pray, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke 2:29-30) “Thy Kingdom Come”, that is – I’m ready to die. Goodbye, world!! Paul had a struggle of how to pray this prayer in his life. Should he pray for the Kingdom of Glory or the Kingdom of Grace? Should he pray to live or to die? He says, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:22-24)
“Thy Kingdom Come” can be a prayer prayed for God’s power, God’s free grace and eternal rescue, or for God’s glory. But sometimes we wonder if the kingdom of God will ever come. Do you ever get frustrated when you see all the evil in the world, and it seems to only get worse? Why does anger and violence seem to dominate how people solve their problems? In our state and community, especially in June, we are bombarded with “Pridefest” – the promotion of a sexuality that challenges basic morality. And if anyone speaks against it, they are accused of being hateful and intolerant.
When we tire of a world that has abandoned God’s will we wonder about the truth of God’s kingdom. Who is in control? God or the devil? We look at our own life and we wonder why it isn’t any better – why we still have such heartbreak in our life, why our prayers don’t seem to be answered, we wonder if we will ever see God’s rule – His kingdom – now, today. If you have had such struggles, you’re not the first one. John the Baptist had been thrown into prison because he opposed King Herod’s immoral life. In Matthew 11 we read, “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to him to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Verse 2)
Helmut Thielicke, the Lutheran pastor, in Stuttgart, Germany during the horrors of World War II spoke to his congregation like this, “But like many of his contemporaries, [John] doubtless thought of the kingdom of God, which was to follow the judgment, as an earthly, Messianic state of order and peace and prosperity. And now bitter disappointment crept into his heart, for this Nazarene, upon whom he had set all his hopes, seemed to be nothing more than a great preacher, only a man who practiced brotherly love. No cosmic revolution sprang up in lurid flames from the footsteps of this figure. He went his way like all the rest. And the dark, demonic powers were still lurking in their hiding places – or even openly irrupting in sores and pains, in death and suffering, in wars and disasters, whistling down like bloody scourges upon those who sought in vain to escape the darkness and the shadow of death.” (Our Heavenly Father, Pages 60-61)
John wants to know if they should seek another and so Jesus answers John, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
Where will we see God’s rule? It is in the darkest places. It is in the worst situations. It is when hope and anticipation for anything better has left. It is when addictions and sins have taken over.
The kingdom of God comes to you and all those who are in deep need of a new life in the face of Jesus Christ. Matthew, quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, says of Jesus and His work, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16) Jesus, speaking about the power of His kingdom, His rule, says, “And the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18) God’s kingdom, God’s rule, God’s mighty work is seen in Jesus. Jesus, speaking of himself would say, “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:21, ESV)
“Thy Kingdom Come”, that is our plea. What a heartfelt plea. We want God’s miracles to abound in this world. The needs are much greater than what we are able to do. Lord, do Your work. “Thy Kingdom Come”. We have no confidence for our eternal salvation except through the blood of Jesus. May Your work of free grace bring our souls relief. And may your Kingdom grow. May many be brought to a saving faith. “Thy Kingdom Come”. May our last hour come with the confidence that our eyes will see our Savior in heaven. “Thy Kingdom Come”.
Three words. They mean everything. “Thy Kingdom Come”. Amen!!