Jesus commanded His disciples to pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6.9, 10). We may note three specifics about this particular command.
First, Jesus taught us to pray that the Kingdom would come on earth in the same way that it exists in heaven. This is completely in line with what we saw in David and the prophets. In heaven the Kingdom of God is a spiritual realm that reflects the righteousness and peace and joy in God’s Spirit all creatures enjoy within the throne room of Christ and God. We are to believe that Jesus intends His Kingdom to come among us in a similar fashion.
Indeed, Paul teaches that we can do no better, in serving God and blessing men, than to embrace the character of the Kingdom as the course for our daily lives and activities (Rom. 14.17-19).
Second, Jesus made praying for the Kingdom the highest priority in our prayers after praising and honoring God. The Kingdom is more important than our daily needs. The Kingdom is more to be desired than that our sins should be forgiven or that we should be rescued through temptation.
The Kingdom, moreover, provides the incentive for our prayers and the hope of their being heard and realized: “For thine is the Kingdom…” God has the power and the authority to grant our prayers, and He rules in righteousness, peace, and joy to do so.
Third, we are to pray for the Kingdom “whenever” we pray. Prayer for God’s Kingdom to come among us is to be part of all our prayers to God. “When you pray, pray this way…Your Kingdom come…” Thus Jesus not only commanded us to pray for the coming of the Kingdom, but to make that coming central to and of the highest import – next to praising the Lord – in all our prayers. Prayers that fail to seek the Kingdom, therefore, would seem to miss the point of the privilege of prayer.
Seek the Kingdom
Jesus taught the primacy of the Kingdom by His life and words, and He taught it by commanding us to seek its coming in prayer. Finally, Jesus asserted the primacy of the Kingdom of God by commanding His followers to seek the Kingdom, together with the righteousness of God, as their highest priority in all things.
The sense of this is that Kingdom-seeking must be not merely the first in the order of our daily activities, but the defining motif of all we think, say, and do.
This is just another way of saying that everything about us must be devoted to God as an avenue by which His rule of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit may flow from the courts of heaven to the chaos and uncertainty of everyday life, according to His Word, and in the power of His Spirit. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ is, through His Kingdom ambassadors, is reconciling all things back to God, making all things new, and calling all men to repent and believe the Good News.
Jesus is the greatest Kingdom visionary, for He came from where that Kingdom perfectly obtained, embodied its power and potential, and knew what He must do, having received the Kingdom, to further its advance on earth. All our understanding and seeking of the Kingdom of God flows from the Father, through Jesus and His Word, by His Spirit, into the time of our lives, and back to our Lord and King once again.
There is more
And yet there is more to learn from Jesus concerning why the Kingdom must be the highest priority in our lives as His followers. For, as we shall see, the Kingdom has come and is unfolding all around us. It is making progress on earth, like a growing stone (Dan. 2.44, 45), overcoming all obstacles and opposition to bring the beauty, goodness, and truth of God into the land of the living.
And while, for now, we may not experience as much of this glorious coming as seems to be promised, this is not for want of Jesus teaching, showing, and helping us to do so. It is rather because we, like those Israelites of old, are too easily satisfied with what our eyes can see and our ears can hear. We have little real insight to the unseen realm, where Christ rules in glory and power, and little taste for the kind of disciplined life seeking the Kingdom of God requires.
But as we continue looking into Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom, and then turn to the Apostles in our final installments in this three-part series, perhaps we may be motivated and stirred in our hearts to higher aspirations and greater exertions of forcing our way, through all the madness and mundaneness of life, into the glorious and eternal Kingdom of God (Lk. 16.16).
On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest rating, how would you assess your daily life in terms of seeking first the Kingdom of God? Why did you choose that number? Can you think of one or two “next steps” that might help you to improve that number over the coming weeks and months? Share this exercise with a Christian friend.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.