Principles of Prayer
by Francis Foulkes ©


2. Prayer for the coming of the kingdom

"Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near'."
(Mark 1:14-15)
'God's rule means gradually sharing our whole lives with him'.
(Mark Gibbard)

"Your kingdom come" is best understood as the prayer for the rule of God in people's lives, in our own, in others, in the world. After the words quoted above Mark Gibbard puts it, 'To bring the rule of God into our world Jesus had to clear the ground for it, he had to overcome the force of evil.' (11) Our seeking for the coming of God's rule in our lives or the lives of others means similarly, our seeking, by the grace and power of Christ, the conquest of all evil.

We can include under this heading the prayer for justice that we find often in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms. Faced with potential treachery David prayed, "If you have come to betray me to my adversaries, though my hands have done no wrong, may the God of our ancestors see it and give judgment" (1 Chr.12:17). In the same way there could be thanksgiving to God when he acted in justice and judgment (see 1 Sam.25:39). The New Testament, however, shows a higher way than praying for judgment (even righteous judgment) on one's enemies. God is more greatly to be glorified through their repentance, forgiveness and the transformation of their lives. Prayer for the preaching of the gospel of grace is truly prayer for God's kingdom, God's rule, in the world. So in 2 Thessalonians 3:1 Paul says, "brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere", and in Colossians 4:3-4 the apostle says, "pray for us -- that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ --- that I may reveal it clearly, as I should." Such prayers arise out of a concern for God's kingdom in the world.

Some who take objection to the 'Father' language of the Lord's Prayer also are unhappy about speaking of God as King or Lord. If, however, we think of the kind of King he is, the use of the word will hardly concern us. In relation to this David L. Tiede helpfully says,

'The kingdom for which Jesus instructs his disciples to pray is not one more oppressive theocracy, where the poor, the marginalized, the aliens, the women and the children are simply 'put in their place'. This reign is founded in an authority that only God could equip and legitimate from below, in apparent weakness and foolishness. It is a dominion that challenges the legitimacy of usual human systems of power, value, class, and influence. It is a sovereignty of service and forgiveness, committed to life and bread and salvation for those who have need while offering repentance unto forgiveness even to the oppressor.' (12)

Such a kingdom or kingship we can indeed be exhorted to set first, as Jesus requires of his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.6:33, and cf.Lk.9:59-62). The parables of Jesus, so many of them beginning "the kingdom of God is like --", show the nature of God's rule for which we pray as we take these words of the Lord's Prayer on our lips. We seek God's rule now, God's rule in our lives and in the lives of others, and for the ultimate future the perfect rule of God over the whole creation. The petition is echoed in the worship of the early Church with its Aramaic plea, "Maranatha", "Come Lord" (1 Cor.16:22, cf. Rev.22:20).