Prayer – Thy Kingdom Come

The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “Thy kingdom come.” Looking at this short petition we can see three quick points. First, God is King. Second, as King he has a kingdom which is differentiated from the way things are now. Third, we are praying for God’s kingdom to be realized in the midst of this present other kingdom.

God is King. It is most proper to say that God is not only a king, as if he were one of a number of kings who each have a right and title to some sphere, but rather to say that God is THE King. All that is and all that ever will be has come into existence because of one reason, and one reason only. God spoke it into existence. There is nothing that exists that finds its existence apart from God’s creative word. As Creator God reigns supreme over all things. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all” (1 Chron 29:11).  He is the King. There may be others who claim a right or title to some authority or kingship, but they are always of a lesser magnitude and order. Psalm 95:3 says, “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Thomas Watson notes, “Other kings have royal and sumptuous apparel to make them appear glorious to beholders, but all their magnificence is borrowed; God is clothed with his own majesty; his own glorious essence is instead of royal robes, and ‘he hath girded himself with strength.’”[1] God is King.

As King, God possesses a magnificent kingdom. There have been a number of different ways that various commentators have understood God’s kingdom in the Lord’s Prayer. Thomas Watson understood a two-fold kingdom, the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory. The kingdom of grace is exercised in the hearts of people. The kingdom of glory is when that kingdom is translated into the whole earth. “The kingdom of grace is glory in the seed, and the kingdom of glory is grace in the flower.”[2] Wilhemus À Brakel understood a three-fold kingdom. A kingdom is defined as a “populace united under a leader.”[3] There is a kingdom of power. This encompasses all things in creation because ultimately, all things are under the sovereign control of God as King. There is a kingdom of glory. This encompasses all the heavenly creatures, like angels and the elect who have passed into heaven. Third is a kingdom of grace. This encompasses all of those who are part of the invisible Church on earth. They are true believers and converted persons. John Calvin in his Institutes only addresses one aspect of God’s kingdom. “God reigns where men, both by denial of themselves and by contempt of the world and of earthly life, pledge themselves to his righteousness in order to aspire to a heavenly life.”[4]

Even in the diversity of views on how the Lord’s Prayer presents God’s Kingdom, there are clear commonalities. Primarily, it is to see God as reigning directly and supremely upon all creation and all creation properly and faithfully responding to his reign and rule. This comes out in the third aspect of this petition, thy Kingdom come. It is understood that there is a difference between the current state of affairs in the world and the way in which God’s kingdom will ultimately manifest itself. Our prayer is that God’s kingdom will come and replace the current “domain of darkness” (Col 1:13). We long to see the Church, the kingdom of all the elect, to grow. The Westminster Larger Catechism #191 acknowledges that we are “under the dominion of sin and Satan” and our prayer is to be delivered. We long to see that kingdom destroyed and “the gospel propagated through the world.” We also pray for the fullness of the church to be brought in and “furnished with all the gospel officers and ordinances” with which Christ has gifted her. We pray for people to repent of their sins and to turn to Christ by faith. And we long for the time of Christ’s second coming.

There is coming a day when Christ will consummate the Kingdom of God. He will sit upon his throne. We will see his name written on his robe and thigh, “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16). Satan will be overthrown and his kingdom will be no more (Rev 20:10). And Christ will “make all things new” (Rev 21:5) as he rules and reigns from his great throne. When we pray the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we need to know that we are asking God for some very big things. We dare not pray this prayer lightly. But if we long to see the penalty, power, and presence of sin finally destroyed, and all of creation renewed, then we should faithfully pray this petition.

[1] Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer (London; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1993), 54.

[2] Ibid., 59.

[3] Wilhelmus Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 4 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015), 3.508.

[4] Jean Calvin, John T McNeill, and Ford Lewis Battles, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 3.20.42.