"Thy Kingdom Come," these words in the middle of the Lord's Prayer, may invoke in Christians a sense of God's glory and greatness, while non-believers may politely quote the entire prayer as a quaint relic of a by-gone era. But what do the words actually mean?
I suspect that many Christians vaguely think they have to do with some future time, when God will set everything right and all creation will acknowledge the rule of God. Perhaps the phrase refers to a day in a coming millennium when Jesus will pass judgment on those who reject Him; when the wicked finally get their due. But what if these words are a challenge for us, today? What if they speak of some personal responsibility, something we can be involved in; rather than a time or place that is beyond our control and that is destined to happen whether we act or not?
I encourage you to take this prayer - including these words - as a personal challenge for your life today. I suggest that these words are not simply to stir within us visions of inevitable events in some heavenly future; but words to shape us, our character and our actions.
"Thy kingdom come" is immediately followed by "Thy will be done on earth..." This is a call to action. Jesus is instructing His followers to implore God for strength and grace to enable them to know and do God's will, here, now, in whatever place and duty we find ourselves.
A kingdom is simply the sphere of effective rule, the place where authority can be exercised. Your kingdom might include your home or car, your possessions, pets, or business. Many people work diligently to expand their kingdom; to increase their sphere of influence and authority. But Jesus teaches us to pray not for the advancement of our kingdom, but for the advancement of God's kingdom.
God's kingdom is not limited to preaching, singing, teaching Sunday school or praying for the sick. It does not consist only in "churchy" or "religious" things. Indeed, according to the Psalmist (Psalm 24:1), God's kingdom includes the whole earth, and everything in it! And that includes you and I, and all that we are and do.
Paul wrote in Romans 14:17, "God's kingdom does not consist in food and drink, but in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." His kingdom isn't about stuff; it's about character and fruit! And we can demonstrate His character and His fruit wherever we are, and in whatever (righteous acts) we do. As we walk in His ways, accomplishing His purposes, exercising His grace in our lives, we are living in and demonstrating His kingdom “on earth, as it is in Heaven.”
Where are you today? What is your responsibility today? Farmer, housewife, politician, or trucker? In your area of influence, are you bringing the righteousness and peace and joy that characterize God's kingdom into all your affairs? Do your life, your work, and your practices reflect the character of His kingdom? Are you today giving feet to our corporate prayer, "Thy kingdom come?"