What does it mean to pray, “Thy kingdom come”?
Question: "What does it mean to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come’?"
Answer: The phrase Thy kingdom come is part of the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer that Jesus taught His disciples (and all future servants of His kingdom) as a pattern for prayer.
In Luke 11:1, the disciples observed Jesus praying and wished to learn from Him how to pray. They recognized that Jesus’ day-to-day actions flowed from His intimate prayer life with God, and they wanted their lives to reflect the same. So Jesus taught them this model prayer: “Whenever you pray, say, Father, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation” (Luke 11:2–4, CSB).
A fuller version of the Lord’s Prayer features in Matthew 6:9–15 as part of Jesus’ extensive teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. In both passages, Jesus includes the statement Thy kingdom come.
One component of Christ’s training in prayer involves understanding that God’s kingdom has not yet been wholly fulfilled on this earth. Thy kingdom come is not just an expectant yearning for the coming of Christ in the future, even though this longing is contained in the plea. But Thy kingdom come also expresses the prayerful desire of Christ’s servants to see God’s Kingdom broaden and become increasingly established throughout the world in the here and now.
Within our prayers ought to be a mindset that recognizes God’s kingdom-purposes and concerns itself with furthering those purposes. First and foremost, the Lord’s dominion must be evident in the lives of His followers. Praying, “Thy Kingdom come,” means asking the heavenly Father to help us in our own lives to be faithful, obedient, authentic, and effective Christians. We spread God’s kingdom not only with words but also through our actions and the observable qualities of our character (Matthew 7:16, 20; John 13:35; 1 John 3:10).
We also know from Scripture that God wants all sinners to be saved (Ezekiel 18:23; Matthew 23:37; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). So in Christ’s model for prayer, we have confirmation that intercessory prayer for the salvation of souls is a worthwhile endeavor. Praying, “Thy Kingdom come,” is the same as saying, “Dear Lord, please open the hearts of my loved ones, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to receive Your gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.” God’s kingdom will expand as more people turn to Christ for salvation. They enter the kingdom when they come to know the crucified King of that kingdom. People need the gospel.
Another way we seek the establishment of God’s kingdom in the here and now is to pray for aspects of God’s nature to be revealed and known in the world. We can ask God to show His holiness to us and others so that all might see and understand it, and be changed by it. In Isaiah 6:1–5, when the prophet Isaiah captured a glimpse of God’s holiness, he was completely undone. So overwhelming was Isaiah’s experience, that he saw the glory of God’s holiness filling the whole earth: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (verse 3).
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we ask God to shine His light into the world so that others may respond to Him with awe and reverence (John 1:1–15). Jesus is the light of the world who breaks through the darkness of sin by His work on the cross (John 8:12). Through Christ’s sacrifice, believers become lights to the world as well (Matthew 5:14–16). God’s Word is also a light to the world, revealing His kingdom so it can be seen on earth (Psalm 119:105, 130; Proverbs 6:23; 2 Peter 1:19).
As believers in Jesus, we acknowledge God as our King. Praying, “Thy Kingdom come,” means we desire for His sovereign rule over our lives here on earth, as we submit to His authority and yield to His control in every aspect of our existence. Likewise, praying, “Thy Kingdom come,” means we earnestly yearn for God’s reign to be established throughout the whole earth and over every human being. We pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” so that God’s sovereign rule will come now and in the future in its fullness and permanence.
Recommended Resource: The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler Jr.
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Questions about Prayer
What does it mean to pray, “Thy kingdom come”?