Thy Kingdom, Come!
In the prayer Jesus taught us, we get through the "Dear God" part, and Jesus' first lesson of prayer is "Thy Kingdom, Come!" I write it this way intentionally. It's an imperative, a command. Jesus is teaching us to desperately insist God's Kingdom hurry up and get here!
This prayer implies several things. First, it suggests this world is not yet fully embodying the style and practices of God's Kingdom. Yes, God is God of all, including this world. This world is already included under God's domain. However, this world does not yet resemble God's Kingdom. We are taught by Jesus to pray for this world to be changed and become more like God's Kingdom.
Second, it suggests we have a role in God's Kingdom coming. Why would Jesus teach us to pray "Thy Kingdom, come!" if we weren't intended to look for it and work for its coming? We pray for God's Kingdom in order to hear our role in helping God's Kingdom come. What would it look like for us to love and serve one another as if we are already citizens of God's Kingdom?
Third, it means our prayers should not be for any other Kingdom than God's. In today's world, I find some people praying for victory for their ways, their people, their nation, their religion over others. I find some people vehemently and violently defending their preferred ideas of law, order, nation, or ruler. Jesus didn't teach us to pray for these things. All these things craft our kingdoms. Jesus taught us to pray for God's Kingdom to come and overrule all our kingdoms.
Fourth, it also means we aren't taught to pray for safe passage from here to anywhere. We are taught to pray for God's Kingdom to come, to safely arrive here among us. Sometimes Christians talk about salvation as an escape for those who deserved it from here to somewhere else. Jesus teaches us instead to pray for salvation as God's Kingdom fully arriving here among us all. If we are praying to go somewhere to God's Kingdom, we are asking for privileged access to something others cannot yet enjoy. If however, we pray for God's Kingdom to come, we are praying for the privilege of God's Kingdom to apply equally to all God's children and all God's creation.
This week, after you've lifted up each name below, and then listened for God's nudges to respond in faith, close your prayer time with the Lord's Prayer. Pause for a good long moment after "Thy Kingdom, COME!" Say that word, "COME" with desperate hope and passionate power. Spend a few moments listening for God's imagination of what this world will look like when God's Kingdom comes. Then listen again for one thing you could do this week to help Kingdom come a little sooner, knowing God's Kingdom is promised and coming, no matter what we do or do not have the courage to do.
Blessing, laughter, and loving be yours!
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert