The Lord’s Prayer 2019
by Flo Friesen
I can still see and smell the setting where I first said the Lord’s Prayer. A two-room country school, oiled wooden floors, faded blackboards, and a high-mounted picture of King George VI keeping an eye on every student.
I don’t remember memorizing the prayer; it simply got cemented into our brains by listening to the 30 droning voices of Grades 1-4 students. An austere, yet sacred, daily routine! I’m thankful I was introduced to The Lord’s Prayer in public school. And I’m thankful it means so much more to me today than it did to a mumbling First Grader!
“Your Kingdom Come.” Did my childish mind wonder how this heavenly “Kingdom” was connected to the King in the photo? Who is the real King, and what is the Kingdom? And how does this phrase impact my life as an ardent follower of Jesus today?
What is the Kingdom?
Jesus focused much of his teaching on the coming of the Kingdom of God and of Heaven. Matthew alone records 50 of Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom.
An Oxford definition of kingdom is “a country, state, or territory ruled by a king or queen.” By contrast, John Piper says the biblical definition of kingdom is, “God’s kingly rule – his reign, his action, his lordship, his sovereign governance” (desiringGod.org podcast, Sept. 8/17). In the first definition a kingdom is a territory or its people ruled by a monarch. In the spiritual kingdom it is the actual rule or authority of God in people’s individual hearts.
The Good News that Jesus brought was that He is the King who would establish His spiritual presence in people’s hearts, as opposed to His physically reigning a particular territory. Through His death and resurrection, He defeated the opposing kingdom of Satan who was holding people captive to their sinful natures.
Through a new birth experience we are set free, and the heavenly kingdom is initiated into our hearts and we commit ourselves to the lordship of Christ. Jesus often said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” It was, and still is, starting to happen—God’s “indwelling” in people’s hearts. But the Kingdom of Heaven is also future. It will be fully completed at Jesus’ second coming when He will totally destroy the kingdom of Satan (Rev. 20:10). The war between the kingdoms will end and we will enjoy God’s rule and presence for all eternity. Kingdom, present and future.
The Kingdom is a Treasure
Jesus describes this Kingdom through parables (Matt. 13). In one, the kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field, or a pearl of immeasurable price. In both cases the person discovering the treasure sells everything to be the exclusive owner of this rare treasure. Its superlative value cannot be calculated! So, it is with the Kingdom of Heaven; its value is beyond articulation. An old hymn says,
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.
The Kingdom of Heaven ushers in a personal relationship with Jesus as my King, but also with Him as my BFF (Best Friend Forever). This thought gives me goose bumps and indescribable joy! Imagine! Jesus comes and sets up house in my life! He’s always available to listen, forgive, comfort, and teach me how to walk with Him. He is my King, but I am not afraid of His rule; I trust Him fully. He delights in me even more than I delight in Him (Zeph.3:17). What a treasure!
The Kingdom Embraces Radical Principles
Besides being an indescribable treasure, God’s Kingdom is not “normal” as kingdoms go. It is characterized by extravagance (Matt. 13). A mustard seed, the tiniest of seedlings, grows into a huge tree, and a miniscule lump of yeast leavens an entire batch of freshly baked buns! So also, Jesus’ teachings were extravagant, often defying human reason.
They were heavenly principles, often opposites such as: to save life you must lose it; in order to live in His Kingdom you must die to yourself; and to have treasures in heaven you must sell your earthly possessions.
God’s kingdom is also characterized by radical forgiveness. Jesus explained that accounts in His Kingdom are not settled by “an-eye-for-an-eye” standard, but rather through a “70 times 7” forgiveness principle (Matt. 18). Kingdom members receive mercy, unmerited release from deserved punishment, and gracious favor lavished simply because we’re His children. No wonder Jesus tells us to “Seek first the kingdom of God”; this is the pearl of greatest price! God’s forgiveness is radical! Who doesn’t need forgiveness? We long for our ugly sins to be drowned in the seas. We are fully pardoned in the Kingdom of Heaven!
The Kingdom Translates into Practical Reality
As a seminarian I loved grappling with deep issues. As a more seasoned follower of Jesus, I now want practical guidance on how to live the abundant life that Jesus promised. How does the Kingdom of Heaven inform and impact my daily life?
In Matthew 18, Jesus holds up a little child as a picture of someone who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Why? Childlike humility and innocent faith—that’s what true greatness is! Jesus exemplified humility by His servant heart.
His gentle spirit draws me to want to be with Him and be like Him. Even in the one “kingly act” of riding into Jerusalem before His death, He rode a lowly donkey. A week later He took a servant’s towel and washed his disciples’ feet. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Servanthood and implicit faith are radical characteristics of Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom!
Yet the Kingdom of Heaven is not weak. Paul says (1 Cor. 4:20) that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. Ephesians 1 and 2 remind us that with incomparably great power Jesus is seated with the Father in the heavenly realm with all kingdoms, including Satan’s, under His feet.
Amazingly, we as citizens of the Kingdom are seated with Him in this heavenly position, with all authority of the Kingdom available to us now! Jesus promised us all power and authority to go and make disciples, assuring His presence to be with us always (Mt. 28:18-20). Today we walk in Kingdom authority! Humility and authority are seeming opposites, but they co-exist in power for Kingdom citizens.
When I lived in Central Asia, my walks to the university became prayer walks. Looking up at the stark concrete apartments, I prayed, “Lord, may your Kingdom come to this country and people. Set them free from the bondage of Satan. May they hear your Good News and respond to your compelling love.” When we realize the immeasurable treasure we possess, we long to share that treasure with ones we love and with ones He loves, even if we’ve never met them. Possessing the Kingdom of Heaven inspires me to bring others into His Kingdom. So we pray, “May your Kingdom come!”
Flo Friesen recently retired from full-time ministry. She has spent time in Ecuador, USA, Central Asia and Canada; in teaching, research, mobilization and leadership ministries with Reach Beyond and Frontiers; and finished the last decade in anti-human trafficking work in Central Asia. She is a member of Kleefeld EMC and fellowships at Anchor Point Church, Winnipeg.