Church columnist: The prayer of faith, part 2
Before continue our discussion of Jesus’ model prayer I just want to say how much I appreciate the good response I’ve had to the “Introduction to Faith” Bible correspondence course.
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Now, to continue our study of Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. In our lest article we covered up through “Your kingdom come” in Matthew 6:10. The next part of Matthew 6:10 goes along with that principle to pray for the kingdom of God.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come,” we understand that this was before the establishment of the church in Acts 2. The disciples were praying for the coming kingdom that John the Baptist, Jesus and the disciples were preaching about (Matthew 3:1-3; 4:17; 10:7-8; Mark 1:14-15). From Acts chapter 2 onward the kingdom is no longer spoken of as coming but as present (Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9; et al).
So, the principle for our prayers today is not to pray for the kingdom to come, because it already came, but to pray for the increase of the kingdom (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
The next part of Matthew 6:10 also teaches us to pray for the kingdom of God. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” this is a prayer for the increase and faithfulness of the kingdom. Where is it that people live according to the will of God? It is in the kingdom, the church of Christ, that men understand the sovereign rule of God and submit to His will for their lives. In the world, apart from God, people live according to their own will in denial of God’s authority as the sovereign ruler of all creation.
That this is a prayer for the faithfulness of the church, the kingdom of God, is made clear when we see what Jesus said in connection with His building His church (Matthew 16:18-19). When Jesus said, “I will build My church,” He went on to say that He would give the apostles “the keys of the kingdom.”
Clearly, the church and the kingdom are the same thing. Jesus certainly wasn’t promising the apostles to build one thing, the church, and to give the apostles “the keys” to something else, the kingdom. That wouldn’t make any sense! He said He would build His church/kingdom and the apostles would be given the ability to open the way into it.
The keys of the kingdom that the apostles were given was the inspired gospel they preached after being baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). When the gospel was preached men were convicted of their sins and wanted to know how to be saved (Acts 2:37-38).
When the people gladly received what was preached by the apostles they were added to the church (Acts 2:40-41, 47), i.e. conveyed into the kingdom (Colossians 1:13). They used the keys – the gospel – to open the way into the kingdom!
Now, look at what Jesus said the apostles would do when they opened the way into the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). They would bind on earth what had been bound in heaven and they would loose on earth what had been loosed in heaven.
That is, in the kingdom/church men would live according to the law of heaven. It is in the church that the will of God is “done on earth as it is in heaven.”
So, the prayer of “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a prayer for the will of God to spread over the earth as the borders of the kingdom spread over the earth. For this prayer to be fulfilled the disciples of Christ must be preaching and teaching the will of God and bringing as many people as will hear and obey the gospel into the kingdom of God in submission to His sovereign will.
If you’re praying the prayer are you doing the work? May the church of Christ continue to grow and prosper in accordance with the will of God and to the salvation of souls!