We’re at that part of our church’s Shorter Catechism which is about prayer. And, we’re thinking about the Lord’s Prayer in particular and what we can learn about prayer from it. And, among other things, we’ve learned that prayer involves the offering up of our desires to God. So, in prayer we bring before God all our needs and wants and cares and concerns. We bring them to him and ask for his help. Prayer also involves the confession of our sins, because we need to acknowledge our sin and to ask our loving heavenly Father to forgive us for all that we’ve done wrong. And prayer also involves thanksgiving. It would be wrong to seek God’s help without ever giving thanks to him for his kindness and faithfulness towards us. And so, when we pray, we come to God because we know he is the source of all good gifts. And having receiving his good gifts, we remember to thank him. So, prayer involves bringing our concerns to God; confessing our sins; giving thanks to him for his kindness to us.
From the preface to the Lord’s Prayer (which is: Our Father in Heaven), we learned the following: That, when we pray, we ought to pray with others and for others. Then, when we pray, we pray normally to God the Father with the help of God the Holy Spirit and we pray in the name of God the Son, because Jesus Christ is the one who has opened up the way for sinners like us into the presence of God. Then, we ought to pray with reverence, because the one we pray to is in heaven and he is gloriously majestic and highly exalted over all. But we also ought to pray with confidence, because he’s our Heavenly Father who loved us and gave up his Son for us. What good thing will he withhold from us now? And we’re encouraged to pray with confidence because, since he rules and reigns over all from his throne in heaven, then there is nothing that is too hard for him. We learned all of this from the preface to the Lord’s Prayer.
And then, last week, we looked at the first request in the Lord’s Prayer which is:
Hallowed be your name.
From this, we learned that we ought to ask God to enable us and all others to give him the glory and the honour and the praise that he deserves. Our chief end in life is to glorify him and to enjoy him for ever. But, because of our sinful, fallen nature, we’re incapable of doing that without God’s help. And so, we ask that he will help us to do what we were made to do and to know him and to worship him with glad and cheerful hearts. And what we ask for ourselves, we ask for others: that men and women and boys and girls around the world, and in the district around this church, will know him and worship him as well. And so, we pray with the Psalmist in Psalm 67:
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
Today we come to the second request in the Lord’s Prayer. And the second request is as follows:
Your kingdom come.
Our church’s Catechism asks:
What do we pray for in the second request?
And it supplies the following answer:
In the second request … we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed, that the kingdom of grace may be advanced and ourselves and others brought into it and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may come quickly.
It mentions three things. Firstly, we’re praying for Satan’s kingdom to be destroyed. Secondly, we praying that the kingdom of grace will be advanced and that we and others will be brought into it and kept in it. And thirdly, we’re praying for the kingdom of glory to come quickly.
The Catechism mentions the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory. In fact, the Reformers also spoke about the kingdom of power as well. All three — the kingdom of power, of grace and of glory — refer to the way the Lord Jesus Christ rules and reigns from his throne in heaven.
Firstly, there’s his kingdom of power by which he rules over all things. And the Apostle Paul refers to this in Ephesians 1 where we read how the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and was seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. He is above everything and all things are under his feet so that he is the head over all. And therefore he has authority and power over all things. And, the Apostle wrote, he is head over all things for the sake of his church. He governs and guides and directs all things, including the nations of the world and all their leaders, in order to help his people and to build his church on the earth.
The Lord Jesus himself referred to this kingdom of power when he commissioned his disciples at the end of Matthew’s gospel. Remember what he said?
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….
All authority has been given to me. I rule over all the nations. Therefore go and make disciples in every nation. The Lord Jesus’s kingdom of power refers to the way he rules over all things, in heaven and on earth. And he rules over all to help his church.
Secondly, there’s his kingdom of grace. And this refers to the way the Lord Jesus rules and reigns over his believing people. He graciously calls us to himself and he adds us to the church. And in the church, he gives us elders to oversee us and we have his law to guide us and his Spirit to help us and he encourages us through the reading and preaching of the gospel and he strengthens our faith. And he guards us against all evil and he keeps us for ever and ever. He is a mighty and powerful Saviour and he has promised that no one will be able to snatch us from his mighty hand.
The church on earth is sometimes called the church militant, because we’re involved in spiritual warfare against the Devil and all his wicked schemes to tempt us and to lead us away from the Saviour and his people. But Christ our King defends us and strengthens us against the Devil’s temptations and he helps us to stand firm against him. So, the Lord’s kingdom of grace refers to the way he rules over and helps his people.
And thirdly, there’s the kingdom of glory which refers to the way the Lord Jesus governs the saints in heaven right now. And it also refers to how he will come again at the end of the age to punish all his enemies and to bring his people — in body and soul — into our eternal and glorious home. And so the church militant here on earth will become the church triumphant in heaven and we will be with the Lord for ever.
And so, there’s the kingdom of power. And there’s the kingdom of grace. And there’s the kingdom of glory. And when we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we’re praying that Christ will exercise his kingdom of power so that he will powerfully rule over all things on the earth for the sake of his church. And we’re praying for the advancement of his kingdom of grace here on earth so that the church will grow and be established in every nation. And we’re also praying for Christ the King to come again to subdue his enemies for ever and to bring his people to glory.
When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we’re praying that Satan’s kingdom will be destroyed. And throughout the Bible we see that the Devil is God’s enemy and he is continually setting himself up in the place of God so that we will obey him instead of God. And so, we see him in the Garden of Eden, in the form of a serpent, tempting Eve:
Don’t listen to God [he was saying to her.]
Listen to me.
Don’t do what God says.
Do what I say.
Then, in 1 Chronicles we read how Satan stood against Israel. He was opposed to God’s church in the Old Testament and he tempted David to count Israel. And the Lord was displeased that he had done this. And, in his anger, God struck Israel and destroyed many of them. And, the thing is: it was the Devil who tempted David to displease the Lord because he wanted to destroy the church.
In the book of Zechariah we read how the Devil was accusing the High Priest before the Lord. And that’s what he does. Not only does he tempt us, but he accuses us. And that’s what he did to Job. Job was a righteous man, doing the will of the Lord. But Satan hated him and accused Job of only doing good for selfish reasons. And so he tried to ruin Job’s life and to destroy his faith. Throughout the Old Testament, we read about the Devil trying to turn us away from the Lord.
And then, of course, in the gospels we see the Devil tempting the Lord Jesus.
Listen to me!
Don’t listen to your Father in heaven.
Listen to me!
In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul wrote about the Devil tempting us. In Ephesians the Apostle Paul teaches us that we’re involved in spiritual warfare and we must stand firm against his wicked schemes. To Timothy, Paul writes about those who have fallen into the snare of the Devil. And Peter says he’s like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. In other words, the Devil is always attacking the Lord’s people in the church.
But he also tries to keep people from ever believing in the Lord in the first place. And so, the Apostle Paul teaches us in Ephesians that before the Lord made us alive with Christ and saved us from our sins before we were saved, we were in bondage to the Devil, following the evil desires of the evil one. The Devil once held us fast. And he’s still holding fast those who have not yet believed in the Lord Jesus. The Apostle John teaches us that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And so, that’s why we must pray for the kingdom of Satan to be destroyed.
We must pray that his grip over sinners will be broken. Those who are not yet part of Christ’s kingdom of grace and members of his church are still under the power of the Evil One. And he’s doing all he can to prevent them from knowing the true God. He blinds the minds of unbelievers. He distracts them. He teaches them to believe all kinds of lies about God. And so, we must pray that his kingdom will fall and that more and more men and women and boys and girls will be rescued from his tyranny and brought into the kingdom of grace.
So, how does this happen? How can the Devil’s kingdom by destroyed? And how can sinners be set free?
We cannot do it by physical force. Though we talk about the church militant, we don’t fight against Satan’s kingdom by forming an army or by forcing people to convert to Christ. We can’t appeal to the government to make a law to require people to worship God only. Satan’s kingdom will not be destroyed by physical force. But instead, his power is broken and sinners are set free through the preaching of the gospel. Through the preaching of the gospel, Jesus Christ works in our hearts by his Spirit and he delivers us from the grip of the Devil and he enables us to turn from our sins which we once loved and to turn in faith to the Saviour. That’s how sinners are set free from Satan’s kingdom. That’s how the Satan’s kingdom will be destroyed. Through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sinners are brought into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so, when we pray, we must pray for God to send out preachers with the gospel. And we must pray that God will work through the preaching of the gospel to convince and convert sinners to faith in Christ so that they’re set free from bondage to Satan and brought into the kingdom of grace. Listen to how the Apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 4. He wrote:
[T]he god of this world [and he means the Devil] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
The Devil has blinded the minds of those who don’t yet believe. He wants to keep them from ever seeing the light of the gospel of Christ. So, is there no hope for them? Will they be kept in the dark forever? Listen to what Paul goes on to say:
God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Paul was referring to what happened to his readers who were believers and to himself. They were once in darkness. The Devil had blinded them. But then God shone in their hearts to give them light. And they were able to see the glory of Christ and to believe in him. Well, since God did that to Paul and to the members of the church in Corinth, he can do it to others today. And what does God use to create this light in our hearts so that we can believe? He uses his word. The gospel. And so, Paul begins that chapter by saying:
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
He had been given the ministry of preaching God’s word. And God works through the preaching of his word to give light to those who were once in darkness. And so, when we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we’re praying that Satan’s kingdom will be destroyed. And Satan’s power over the hearts and minds of men and women and children is broken through the reading and preaching of God’s word.
Kept in it
When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we’re praying for Satan’s kingdom to be destroyed, and we’re praying that more and more men and women and boys and girls will be brought into Christ’s kingdom of grace. We’re praying for them to be released from the Devil’s grip and brought into Christ’s kingdom through the reading and preaching of the gospel.
But when we pray for Christ’s kingdom to come, we’re also praying that those who are brought into it will remain in it. I once read a book which described how in many churches people were leaving just as much as others were joining. New members came in through the front door, as it were. While old members were leaving by the back door. They stopped believing. And they stopped attending.
If people are giving up the faith and leaving the church, then the church will not grow. The kingdom will not grow. And so, we ought to pray that those who are brought into the kingdom will remain in it, that those who become members of Christ’s church will remain members of his church.
We ought to pray that the gospel will be preached continually in our churches, because it’s through the gospel that our faith in Christ is strengthened and kept alive. Isn’t that what we were learning this morning with the children from the book of Galatians? These false teachers were not preaching the gospel which Paul had preached. They were not teaching the people to rely on Christ and on him alone for peace with God. And Paul was alarmed because what they were teaching was like poison. It would destroy them. So we must pray for ministers to preach the gospel and for members to want to hear the gospel.
And then, we must pray that our elders will fulfil their calling in the church. God has given us elders to serve the church like shepherds who watch over their sheep. And so, we must pray that our elders will watch over us and our spiritual well-being. They must watch out for the sheep who are in danger of going astray. They must go after those who have wandered from the Saviour and try to bring them back. They must take care of the Lord’s little lambs and see that they’re built up in the faith. They must bind up the sheep who have been wounded. If we’re to pray for Christ’s kingdom to come, then we must pray that his elders will be careful to fulfil their calling so that our members are kept in the church and kept in Christ’s kingdom.
And then, of course, we must pray that churches will always be reforming themselves according to God’s word, comparing what they teach with God’s word and comparing what they do with God’s word to ensure that they’re still following the Lord and his ways. Once again we can think of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul was alarmed at what these false teachers were teaching. And he was alarmed at how quickly the people had gone astray and how easily they accepted ideas which were not taught in the Bible. And so, they needed to return to the Scriptures. Or we can think about Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This church which was made up of enthusiastic believers, full of zeal. And yet, so much of what they were doing as a church was not right. And it’s a warning to us that even the most enthusiastic and committed believers can go astray. Even the best churches can veer away from doing what God requires. And so, we must be continually asking God to help his churches to remain faithful to his word in all that we teach and do.
Kingdom of glory
When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we ought to pray that the power of the Devil will be broken and that more and more men and women and children will be set free from his tyranny and brought into the Lord’s kingdom of grace. And we ought to pray that those who are brought into Christ’s kingdom of grace will be kept in it. And so, we’re praying that ministers will preach the gospel by which our faith is strengthened, and elders will watch over us and the church and its doctrines and practices will be kept pure.
But finally, when we pray for Christ’s kingdom to come, we also ought to pray for his kingdom of glory to come. Paul closed his first letter to the Corinthians with the prayer:
Our Lord, come!
And having written to the church in Thessalonica about the coming of the Lord, he added:
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
The knowledge that Jesus Christ is coming again encourages us, and we ought to pray for it, because when the Lord comes again, all his enemies will be subdued forever so that never again will his name be dishonoured by those who do not believe in him. And when he comes, we will be glorified, so that never again will we dishonour him by sinning against him. And every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. In other words, when he comes, Christ the King will receive the recognition and the praise and the honour that he deserves. We love him, don’t we? And we want him to be praised. And therefore we long for him to return, so that everyone will see him as he really is and give him all the glory that he deserves.
The Lord Jesus taught us to pray to our loving, heavenly Father. And he taught us to pray for his help to honour his name. And he taught us to pray that his kingdom of grace will advance throughout the world and that one day, that his kingdom of glory will be arrive. And on that day, we will join with the angels in heaven, and all his redeemed people, to praise Jesus Christ our King.