What Does It Mean to Pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’?

It’s as humbling as it is fascinating to consider that God advances his kingdom agenda through the prayers of his people. Jesus instructs his disciples to pray for the kingdom to come (Matt. 6:10a). And the coming kingdom is the undying burden of God’s people. Those who love the King eagerly yearn for his kingdom to come.

But what does it mean to pray for it to come? Here are three aspects of this cry for the kingdom to come.

Cry of Loyalty

Some people have described the kingdom as God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule. I think this is a helpful orientation for this prayer. This kingdom has a physical and a spiritual aspect to it. There is a driving desire to return securely to Eden where God is rightly honored and his people are blessed with unimpeded access to God and his gifts.

Through our prayers, it is as if the Holy Spirit lifts our chins above the earthly horizon to see the fleet of God’s coming kingdom advancing on the open sea. And we cry, ‘Make haste! Come, O King and kingdom!’

When we pray, “Your kingdom come” there is a real sense of yearning and loyalty. We are anticipating the coming kingdom, on board with God’s agenda and that we love the King himself. Those who love the King eagerly yearn for his kingdom.

And through our prayers, it’s as if the Holy Spirit lifts our chins above our earthly horizon to see the fleet of God’s coming kingdom advancing on the open sea. And we cry, “Make haste! Come, O King and kingdom!”

This is also a convicting word, because we cannot cry “Thy kingdom come” while promoting our kingdom. Sin is an expression of disloyalty to the King. It is trading of crowns. It salutes the flag of self over the flag of Christ. Therefore, the cry of loyalty is also a cry of repentance. We want the kingdom to come in the world around us and also in us.

So we pray: O Lord, I see my disloyalty to you and hate it! Incline my heart to love you and your gracious and just administration so that I can eagerly long for your kingdom to come in this world!

Cry of Treason

The word treason gets tossed around liberally these days. Strictly speaking, treason is a crime of betraying one’s own country by breaking the law, and often by attempting to overthrow the government or kill its leader.

When I talk about this prayer being a cry of treason I mean that Jesus is teaching his followers to pray for the overthrow of the kingdom of this world, the coup of its leader, and the establishment of a new king. This is a cry of dissatisfaction. It wants a chance.

But, please note, I am not talking about the overthrow of the U.S. government—or any other natural government. Instead, I’m talking about the spiritual government of this world, led by Satan. He is the spiritual king of this world. Scripture calls him the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). He has a ruling seat (Rev. 2:13). His kingdom is darkness (Col. 1:13). He planted his flag in the ground in Genesis 3. He has set up dominion by storming the castle of our minds and hearts (Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:1-4).

When we pray for the kingdom of God to come we are pleading for the kingdom of Satan to be toppled. Like is so often the case when a tyrant is displaced, we want his statues to be defaced, toppled, and dragged in open view. We want Satan and all of his demonic scheming, tactical assaults, deadly seduction, hissing lies, and destructive systems to be shattered!

We know it is a matter of time, because on the cross the kingdom of God burst into the world with a head-crushing blow to the serpent. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15).

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

Praying for the kingdom to come is a beautiful subversive prayer that melds faithfulness with fervency.

So we pray: Lord, we are not loyal to the god of this world. We resist his laws and rules at every turn. We will not salute his flag nor genuflect before his statues; we are yours! We are loyal to your good and just government. Your kingdom come! Your will be done!

Cry of Conquering

As we await the full realization of the inaugurated kingdom, we cry for the kingdom to come and conquer souls.

Ever since the garden of Eden, we have turned our hearts from upon God and towards ourselves and our pleasures. It is a spiritual ignorance, even a darkened ignorance. Thomas Watson observed,

Ignorance is a black veil drawn over the mind. Men by nature have a deep reach for the things of the world, and yet are ignorant of the things of God. In 1 Samuel 11.2 Nahash the Ammonite would make a covenant with Israel to thrust out their right eyes. Since the fall our left eye remains, a deep insight into worldly matters, but our right eye is thrust out, we have no saving knowledge of God. Ignorance draws the curtains around the soul so that we are blind and in darkness.

But, when God awakens a person to behold the glory of Christ, he conquers their rebellious hearts and makes them his. Those who formerly would not give Christ honor but pledged allegiance to another (John 19:14-15) are brought into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13-14).

When we pray for the kingdom of God to come we are praying that God would conquer souls! And that he would shine the kingdom of grace upon the hearts of men, women, and children so that they would see and savor the kingdom of glory!

So we pray: “Lord, your kingdom come, your will be done! Conquer hearts by your Holy Spirit to set up the administration of grace in their hearts! Let them see the beauty and worth of your glory! Like Narnia melt the ice of winter and give way to the buds of grace and the dawning day of the kingdom of glory! We know you can do this and delight to do it because you’ve done it to us!”