When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to pray that God's kingdom would come and God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I always thought those were two separate things--that the kingdom of God was like the realm of God, so praying for his kingdom was praying for the future--that God would expand the boundaries of the people and places that are following him. But I'm taking this class about kingdom worldview, and I think I was wrong. The primary meaning of the word "kingdom" when it was used in the New Testament was that of God's rule and authority and sovereignty. The realm over which the King rules is a secondary meaning. So I'm beginning to think that praying that God's Kingdom to come is really asking that his rule and reign would be top priority, and that I'm seeking the will of the King who has authority over my life.
As I've sat with this idea for the last couple of weeks, it's really changing the way I think about praying for those around me. What am I asking for if I'm asking that God's kingdom would come in my own heart or the hearts of those around me? I think I'm asking that God would be the rightful king and ruler. And that necessarily means that as a result, I'll see my place in the world as one of service to the king. If I am asking that God be King and ruler in my life, that means I see decisions that I make as decisions that must be offered to him. In other words, if I believe I am subject to the King, then I give up the idea that I have the right to choose what's best for me. I don't get to choose the best car for me--I have to ask what car is going to best serve the kingdom. I don't get to choose the best way to spend money for me--I have to ask God to show me how my money can be used in his Kingdom. I don't get to look at my time as something that exists just to make my life better--I have to ask God how to use my time to bring his Kingdom on earth.
In our American democratic, individualistic society, this idea is foreign. We don't have a king. We don't have anyone who has that kind of authority against us, except, perhaps, our parents when we are young. And our culture encourages us to strain against those bonds of authority and get out from under it as quickly as possible so that we can be self-made, self-sufficient, and self-satisfied people.
What would it look like if we really invited God to bring his Kingdom in our lives and in the world around us? How would it change our community if we used our resources like our time and money and emotional reserves to serve the Kingdom instead of ourselves? How would the lives of those around us change if they began to recognize the authority and the rule of the King in their lives? Are we willing to pray that God's Kingdom would come and to let his Spirit do the work that would be necessary to bring his Kingdom rule into our hearts and lives?