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The next section of the Lord’s Prayer we’ll be looking at is, “Your kingdom come.”

Years ago, we used to sing, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah.” Nothing wrong with the song. It’s based on Matthew 6:33. But I’m pretty sure I had only a vague notion of what seeking God’s kingdom first meant. It was something like, “Make it your priority to seek everything that has to do with God.” Not a bad idea, certainly, but that nebulous thought leaves a lot of helpful biblical truth lingering neglected in the shadows. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long ago that I began to ask, “Do I really know what the kingdom of God is?” To my shame—it seems like I’ve been admitting this a lot lately—I never did any significant New Testament study on the topic.

So, what is the kingdom of God and what is it like?

And why should I pray that it would come?

There isn’t time and space here in one short blog post to address the topic of the kingdom of God. But it goes without saying that we should be thinking about it. After all, it’s one of the first things that Jesus announced when He began His ministry (Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15). It’s what He told His disciples to go proclaim (Matthew 10:7; Luke 9:2). It’s the very first idea addressed in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). I think it was my questioning why, if one were poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven would belong to Him, that led me to study the nature of the kingdom of God. (I’ll rightly give credit to the Lord for putting that question in my mind.) I think I now understand what Jesus’ statement means. I write this cautiously. There are no claims to complete understanding here. Thinking I’ve got God’s truths figured out is something I must constantly remind myself to avoid.

So, why, if I was poor in spirit, would I possess the kingdom of God? First, a little logic.

Who is the king in this kingdom? Clearly, the Lord. In this prayer, more specifically, it’s the Father. Who are His loyal subjects? We are—or should be. If we are to be in His kingdom, we are to be ruled by Him. However, God’s kingdom operates differently from an earthly kingdom. Our King won’t hang us from the gallows if we rebel against His rule. It would never be a wise course of action to defy Him; nevertheless, we do it all the time. I may be doing it even now in some area of which I am unaware. Thankfully, He is gracious, and that grace was clearly made manifest when Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for my ignorant rebellion. He is now at work in us, and a large part of His work is that we come to the startling awareness that if we give up our worldly ideas of control and power, He will rule over us and our lives will be fulfilling, peaceful, joyful, and, as Jesus said, blessed. He is a good and loving King, so it makes sense for us to give the rulership of our lives up to Him—or should. However, we are a rebellious bunch, and it takes time and experience to break us.

One of my favorite Christian songs is Jesus Broke the Wild Horse in my Heart. Like so many of our songs, we sing it like it is an accomplished event, but it would be more truthful to sing, Jesus is breaking the wild horse in my heart. (Doesn’t work too well rhythmically, though.) This is why Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” God the Father becoming the ultimate Ruler in our lives is a process. I am convinced that good work will never end while we are in our bodies on this earth.

So, why do the poor in spirit possess the kingdom of God? Because they are willing to give up their own rulership and admit that they are in drastic need of help from God, the true King, for…everything. Righteousness. The ability to love Him and others. Provision. Understanding and wisdom. Accomplishments and results in our lives and ministries. Thus, those who are poor in spirit don’t consider themselves believers who are sufficient in and of themselves and have no needs. They are in ultimate need of Him, pure and simple. (For a stark example of believers who are not poor in spirit, take a fresh look at Jesus’ letter to the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22. This warning should cause “rich” Christians to fall to our knees.) This humility, this poverty of spirit, this admittance that we are dependent upon the Lord, has one overarching result—the realization that He is King indeed, and we are not. This is how Christians possess the kingdom of heaven. They are totally weak and dependent upon God, their King.

Please allow me to be more direct. We are powerless. My Charismatic/Pentecostal brothers and sisters may rise up and protest, “No! Jesus told us that we shall receive power!” Let me quickly add an amen. However, He promises spiritual power, not earthly power. When Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3), He meant the abdication of earthly power. Children have no earthly power, and those in Jesus’ time were considered to be no more than insignificant slaves.

Abdication of rule and power. That is what true, loyal subjects of a king do. He is the king. You are not. If things get done, He did them because He has the power. You did not do them because you have no power. He gets the glory. You do not. You do not boast in “your accomplishments.” You boast in Him (1 Corinthians 1:29, 31; 3:21).

Simple, true?

Difficult?

Yes.

So, when I pray, I pray the Father’s kingdom will come spiritually in my life, the lives of those I know—my family and friends—and His Church. Therefore, I am praying that they will realize how poor they are in spirit.

And that may require some breaking.

But it will be a good breaking. Because He is good.

Next time, we’ll look at praying that the Father’s kingdom will come in reality. It’s a wonderful thing to pray, but it is a little…frightening.

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