Seeking the Kingdom of God (4)
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” Matthew 6:9, 10
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Seeking the Kingdom of God begins in prayer. Abraham Kuyper, the great 19th century Dutch statesman, educator, and theologian, wrote, “Personally it is our repeated experience that in the depths of our hearts, at the point where we disclose ourselves to the Eternal One, all the rays of our life converge as in one focus, and there alone regain that harmony which we so often and so painfully lose in the stress of daily duty. In prayer lies not only our unity with God, but also the unity of our personal life.” Prayer, in other words, has the great benefit of providing an opportunity for us to refocus and reorient our lives, in every aspect, to the progress of God’s Kingdom.
In Jesus’ instruction concerning prayer we can identify three qualifying criteria for using prayer as the starting-point and context for seeking the Kingdom of God. First, prayer for the coming of God’s Kingdom must be continuous and expectant. The Lord’s prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6 is meant to be a pattern for all our prayers. In Luke’s account of this prayer Jesus begins by saying, “When you pray…” The Greek word, hotan, means literally, “whenever” or “as often as.” Thus Jesus intends that we should make prayer for the coming of God’s Kingdom part of all our prayers. And when we pray, seeking the Kingdom of God, we should pray expectantly, that is, with specific reference to particular areas of our lives, seeking more of the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit for everything we do, all day long.
Second, Jesus’ teaching about prayer counsels us specifically to request the coming of the Kingdom on earth, that is, here and now. In your morning prayers, as you pause for a “prayer break” during the day, or when you are seeking the Lord in prayer for any particular activity, be sure to frame that prayer in a Kingdom context. Acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus over everything concerning which you are praying. Plead with Him to bring to mind some portion of His Word to guide your thoughts and actions. Call upon the Lord to supply the power of His Spirit to enable you to be a conduit of righteousness, peace, and joy in all you do. Remind yourself before the Lord that you are not your own; you were bought with a price, and your desire is to glorify God in all your activities (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
Finally, Jesus provides us with a standard for seeking His Kingdom: that it might come into our daily lives and activities as a reflection of the way saints and angels carry out their submission to King Jesus in His heavenly court. You’ll want to ask the Lord to keep you focused on His throne, submissive to His Word, and maintaining an attitude of worship in all you do. Ask Him for specific prompts in every situation, and commit yourself to instant and complete obedience. Review every activity in silent meditation before the Lord, looking back to discern the ways He made His Kingdom presence known in that situation.
Kuyper continues his meditation on prayer by saying, “Movements in history, therefore, which do not spring from this deepest source are always partial and transient, and only those historical acts which arose from these lowest depths of man’s personal existence embrace the whole of life and posses the required permanence.” We are instructed to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), to nurture and maintain an attitude of prayer in everything we do, all day long. When that continuous effort is linked with the desire and expectation of Kingdom progress in your life, according to the standards of Kingdom obedience in heaven, you can be sure that the Lord will hear your supplications and grant your request, often in surprising and powerful ways.
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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