Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Universal and the Personal

Leslie Basham: The lines in the Lord’s Prayer are tied together, according to Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Those who are not children of God, those who don’t pray, “Our Father,” they don’t want God’s kingdom to come. They want to run their own life. They want to be their own God. They want their own kingdom to come. They don’t want to bow to any other king but themselves.

But the mark of a true child of God is that you want God’s kingdom to come in your life, and you’re willing to repent as God reveals kingdoms of your heart that haven’t been surrendered to Christ.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, October 8.

Last month we heard a series from Nancy called, The Lord's Prayer, Part 1. She brought out so much meaning from the first words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9).

She’s back with a second series on the Lord’s Prayer, ready to help us understand what it means to pray for God’s kingdom.

Nancy: We come today to what is the shortest petition of the six petitions in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come,” or as some of us grew up saying it, “Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10).

Short petition—yes. It’s just three words, but one that has huge significance and implications. I’ve found these three words just reverberating in my heart and my head at all times of the day and night and in all sorts of situations as I’ve been preparing for this series. Keep in mind that Jesus taught us to pray, but He’s also teaching us a way to think, a way to live, a way to approach. Not a way but The Way to approach all of life.

If you’re in the kingdom of God, if you are a child of God, this is the way the family functions. This is the way it works. He came to reveal the Father to us and to reveal to us how we should live in the kingdom of God.

This prayer is that all of those things would be true in our lives. We’re going to spend a few days on this petition, “Your kingdom come,” because there’s so much packed into it. I think by the time we get to the end, you will see more to it than perhaps you ever realized was there.

Again, let me just stress that the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer—the order in which they come—show us the priorities of God; the agenda of God.

I think it’s important with each of these petitions that we realize Jesus was talking to disciples. He’s talking to us today—who have different needs, different crises, different burdens, different concerns.

You came to this session today with burdens and concerns on your heart, and God wants to know what those are. He knows what they are, but He wants you to tell Him what they are.

But He wants of first importance—first priority to us—to be His agenda, His concerns. So we pray first, “Thy name be hallowed. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” And then we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts. Deliver us from the evil one. Protect us from temptation” (Matt. 6:9-15 paraphrased).

We need provision; we need pardon; we need protection. But we pray for those things after we have prayed for the glory of God; the name of God to be hallowed; the kingdom of God to come; and the will of God to be done.

You say, “Why do you keep saying that?” Because we pray so differently than that—typically. This is telling us how we are even to pray about those other things. As we have needs for provision and for protection and for pardon—why do we want those things? So God’s name will be hallowed, so that His kingdom will come, so that His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It has to do with our motives, with our approach, and with the priority.

We’re expressing that the uppermost on our minds and our hearts is God’s kingdom and His interests when we pray, “Your kingdom come.” That matters to us more than our own needs; even more than our most basic needs. The kingdom of God matters more to us than having something to eat today or tomorrow or the next day—if we starve to death physically, it’s okay, if God’s kingdom is advanced.

Now, there are a lot of teachings of Jesus surrounding this passage that remind us that we’re not going to starve to death; that God is going to care for our needs. We’re saying, “The kingdom of God being advanced is more important, more essential than even our need for food,”—as basic as that is.

It’s in the context of the Lord’s Prayer, not too many verses later, at the end of Matthew 6:33, that we read, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these [other] things,” what you will eat, what you will drink, what you will wear, where you will live, how you will survive, “All these things will be added to you.”

Let me remind you that once His kingdom is established, we have everything else we need. When His kingdom is being advanced, it goes well for the subjects of that kingdom.

We are praying for our own wellbeing and our own supply and our own needs to be met when we’re praying above that for the overarching request that God’s kingdom would come.

Let me just back up a bit and ask this question. What is the kingdom of God? When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” what are we asking for? What do we want to see happen? What is the kingdom of God? This thought of the kingdom of God is a theme. It’s a thread that runs throughout the entire Scripture.

It’s a major theme that runs throughout the Gospels. Luke four tells us that Jesus came to preach the kingdom of God (v. 43). The book of Matthew alone has approximately forty references to the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.

Now, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, is not a geographical territory, as we think of earthly kingdoms. The United Kingdom—you think of a place on the globe that is the United Kingdom.

The kingdom of God speaks of the rulership of God—the reign of God, the sovereign control, and rule of God. This kingdom has a King. To pray for His kingdom to come is to acknowledge and submit to His rule in every matter, large or small.

It’s to honor Him as the King. It’s to esteem Him above all other earthly powers and lords. We’re saying that there is no power on earth that is higher than our King—King Jesus, our Father in heaven.

This petition recognizes that the Father, to whom we pray, as close as we can be to Him, as intimate as we can be with Him, that Father is also a King. We are His subjects. We’re praying for His ruler-ship and His reign.

The kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom. It is not a worldly kingdom. Jesus said to Pilate when He was being interrogated and tortured prior to going to the cross, in John chapter 18:36, Jesus looked at Pilate, who was a Roman governor, representing the most powerful empire on the face of the earth in those days.

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” “Your kingdom is,” is the implication. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

That means, even as we’ll see in the next couple of sessions, that the tactics, the goals, the methods, the weapons of God’s kingdom are vastly different than those of earthly kingdoms.

We do not conquer for the kingdom of God with military might, with political clout, with argument, with persuasion, or with coercion. Those are the means the world has to resort to in order to have rulership and reign.

God’s kingdom conquers in very different ways. This whole concept of the kingdom of God and how it was brought about, not by swords and guns and weapons and earthly control—this was a very difficult concept for those first century disciples to understand. In fact, I don’t know that they ever got it as long as Jesus was here on the earth. After His ascension and the Holy Spirit came, then they began to get it.

The first century Jews—the people who would have been reading these Gospels, the people who would have heard Jesus teach them to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . . Your kingdom come,” those Jews lived under the heel of the Roman Empire.

It was an oppressive, powerful kingdom. The Jews, as did much of the rest of the world, desperately longed to see that kingdom—the Roman Kingdom—overthrown.

So when Jesus came proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand, hope sprang up in their hearts, and what were they thinking? “Out with the Romans! We will get rid of the oppression of the Romans!”

They had a view of the kingdom of God that was more physical and political than spiritual. When Jesus didn’t seem particularly concerned about overthrowing the Roman government, they were confused. When Jesus was put to death by the Romans, Jesus’ disciples had all their hopes dashed to the ground. This was a huge disappointment because it appeared that all this talk about the kingdom of God had come to nothing. Jesus was interested in far bigger things than the Roman government.

There were three senses in which the Scripture talks about the kingdom of God. There’s a universal rule and reign of God. There’s a personal reign of God, and then there’s the ultimate visible rule of God on this earth.

I want to talk about the first two today, and then in the next session, we’ll focus on that third ultimate, visible reign and rule of God.

But first of all, the universal reign and rule of God—this is the sense in which we recognize that God is King now over all the earth.

He always has been; He is now, and He always will be. I know it doesn’t look very much that way, but He is. He is the King. For example, in Psalm 47, we read these wonderful words beginning in verse one.

O clap your hands, all peoples. Shout to God with the voice of joy. For the Lord Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth (vv. 1–2).

For God is the King of all the earth . . .God reigns over the nations. God sits on His holy throne” (vv. 7–8).

You say, “Here and now? God does?”

Yes! Not in a visible way, but not just in a future way. There is a sense in which at this moment, and eternally in the past, and eternally in the future; God has been, is, and always will be a great King over all the earth. So when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we realize He is the King of the universe, and all other powers and kings and rulers are subject to Him.

Those kings, those rulers who seem so powerful in the world today—it seems like it’s their kingdom. There are rulers in the world today who have millions of people under their heel, under their thumb, under their tyranny. But those kings and rulers only have power in so far as God allows them to have it. God is still the King. I find that realization gives me perspective. That brings me courage in the midst of this broken, chaotic world.

I’m just thinking, as we’re talking here, about that hymn I love so much:

This is My Father’s world. 
O let me ne’er forget, 
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, 
God is the Ruler [capitol R] yet.1

God is the ruler. Don’t forget that. If you forget that, then you’ll find yourself being squashed, being decimated, being wiped out, being overwhelmed, being overcome with fear, panic when you see the wrong cropping up and seeming so strong in your little part of the world. “This is my Father’s world.” He is the Ruler. That’s the universal reign and rule of God.

Then there’s that aspect of a personal reign of God. The personal kingdom of God. This refers to God’s reign and rule in the hearts of individuals who receive Him as King.

That’s a sense that we may experience here and now, no matter what’s going on around us—surrendering to, submitting to the lordship, the reign, and the rule of God in our lives. We can experience His personal reign. So as we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we’re praying for His reign and rule in the hearts of His people.

That is what the disciples missed. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is here among you, now.” The disciples are wondering, “Where? The Romans are still here! You haven’t wiped them out!”

Jesus is saying, “No, you don’t get it. It’s in the hearts of those who recognize Me as their King and who submit to God’s rule in their lives.”

We pray that God would exercise His reign and His rule in the hearts of His people, starting with our own.

What would that look like for His Kingdom to come in my heart? It would affect every area of our lives:

  • how we spend our time
  • how we spend our money
  • our goals
  • our hobbies
  • our habits
  • our attitudes
  • our speech
  • our relationships
  • our morals
  • our marriages
  • our parenting

Do you want God’s kingdom to come in every area of your life? You want God’s kingdom to come in your husband’s life! I know that. You want God’s kingdom to come in your children’s lives. I know that. You want to try and make God’s kingdom come, if you could, in the lives of others around you. But do you want God’s kingdom, His reign, His rule, to come in your life? Or do you just want others to submit to Him so you can have an easier life?

Lord, we pray, let Your kingdom come in my heart. Reign in rule in every area of my life. When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” are we just saying mechanical, meaningless repetitions, idle words that Jesus warned about? Or do we mean it? Do you mean it?

How would your life look different if His reign and His rule were to be exercised in your heart? Is there some area of your life where you’re reserving the right to make the final decision:

  • your eating habits
  • the way you talk to your mate
  • the way you handle your finances
  • the way you spend your money
  • what you buy for your home

Are you subjecting every issue and area of your life to the lordship of Christ? That’s what it means to pray and mean it, “Your kingdom come.”

Jesus said that in order to be in God’s kingdom, we have to repent of our own kingdoms. The first recorded message of Jesus in the Scripture is found in Matthew 4:17.

“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” To enter into the kingdom of God, to have God’s reign and rule in my life, means that I must be willing to repent—to turn from every area where I’ve been trying to run my own life.

Those who are not children of God, those who don’t pray, “Our Father,” they don’t want God’s kingdom to come. They want to run their own life. They want to be their own God. They want their own kingdom to come. They don’t want to bow to any other king but themselves.

The mark of a true child of God is that you want God’s kingdom to come in your life. You’re willing to repent as God reveals kingdoms of your heart that haven’t been surrendered to Christ. You want Christ to rule over every particle of the universe, starting with the deepest corners and recesses of your heart.

When His kingdom comes, all other competing kingdoms must go. A kingdom cannot have two kings, and neither can our hearts.

  • Who is sitting on the throne in your heart?
  • Whose reign and rule are you surrendered to?
  • Are you really praying and meaning it, “Your kingdom come”?

When we pray that, and as it happens, it means that our lives should reflect His kingdom, His kingdom values, and the principles of His kingdom. What the King is like should be evident through us.

That means our lives—the lives of those who call themselves the children of God—should be fundamentally different than the lives of those who are not in His kingdom.

I’m not just talking about when we’re at church or when we’re going to a Bible study or when we’re singing hymns about Christ being Lord of all. I’m talking about when you’re driving kids to school, when you’re doing laundry, when you’re mowing the lawn, when you’re fixing meals, working in a hair salon or a bank or a doctor’s office, on vacation at the beach, or relaxing at home on the weekend, cheering at your kids’ sporting events, and sitting in church.

At all times and in all situations, our lives should reflect what it means to love His kingdom.

I was talking with a friend the other day who was telling me how he had been recently—and I referenced this friend earlier in this series—but he’d been through a time of some deep depression.

God had just been using the Lord’s Prayer as a real means of grace in this man’s life. He said, “You know, somebody told me,” this man said, an older man said to him, “you need to start seeking the kingdom of God.”

This older man wisely said to my friend, “As you seek God’s kingdom, and as you want God’s kingdom to come, you’re going to get out of yourself and you’re going to find that you’re not so centered in your own problems, in your own world, and in your own issues.”

My friend started to pray the Lord’s Prayer and to mean it; to pray it thoughtfully and reflectively; to meditate on it. He said, “This has just so impacted my life.” He said, “It’s amazing how you pray for your children differently when you’re praying ‘Thy kingdom come.’” What does it mean to pray for the kingdom of God to come in the lives of your children?

You’re praying differently than you would if you were just praying about their grades or their athletic events or people they can’t get along with at school or whatever. It’s not that those things are not a concern, but is the overarching concern for your life, for your marriage, for your children, for the people you work with, is it that God’s kingdom would come in their lives?

As we pray for others, as we pray for their needs, our focus—our burden is that they would experience even more of God’s reign and rule in their lives. Do you pray that for your children?

Don’t just pray for a happy marriage for your kids. Don’t just pray for your kids’ marriage not to get divorced. Do pray that, but pray overarching that, “Lord, may Your reign and rule come in my son’s life, my daughter’s life, my grandchildren’s lives, in their marriage, in every part of their lives, may Your kingdom come. May Your reign and Your rule be known in my life, in my marriage, in my family.”

When the reign and the rule of Christ comes to your family and to your relationships, there is no more combat, conflict, contest of wills—because all wills become submitted to His will.

Lord, may Your reign and Your rule be known in my church, in my workplace, in the ministry ofRevive Our Hearts and in this world. Father, we pray that we would know what it is to say, “Yes,” to our King, to have Your reign and rule active and experienced in a practical, real, every day way in our lives. Lord, may Your kingdom come in my heart. May You reign, may You rule. May I have a lifestyle of saying, “Yes, Lord.”

I wonder, even as pray, if you would ask the Lord to search your heart, and say, “Lord, is there any area of my life where I’m not letting You rule?” I just wonder, as our hearts are bowed here in prayer, how many of you would just say, “There is some area of my life, maybe lots of areas—maybe one that I can think of now, but one or more areas that are not currently being surrendered to the reign and the rule of Christ.”

Would you now say in relation to that area and any other areas that He brings to mind, “I want Your kingdom to come. I want You to reign and rule in my life.”

Would you pray for God’s kingdom to come in your family, in your marriage, in your children, your parents, your siblings, and in the workplace? Pray for God’s reign and rule to be experienced in your church, not just in words, but in reality.

Then, Lord, we pray for that great day when Your kingdom, Your reign, and Your rule will be experienced in visible ways throughout all the earth. We pray Thy kingdom come, amen.

Leslie: Prayer is an act of surrender. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining why surrendering to God in prayer will affect your choices and actions. That is part of the series, The Lord’s Prayer, Part 2. Nancy will be teaching through the Lord's Prayer in three series this fall.

God has used several books to teach Nancy more about prayer. One she often recommends for your personal prayer time is called The Valley of Vision. It’s filled with Puritan Prayers. These are deep. They’re weighty. They’re poetic and beautiful. And the book packaging of this bonded leather edition is simple and beautiful as well.

Praying through this book, The Valley of Vision will help you connect with God in a fresh way.  We’d like to send you a copy when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of twenty dollars or more. We rely on donations from listeners like you in order to stay on the radio and to bring you messages at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you make your gift of twenty dollars or more, ask for The Valley of Vision.  Call with your gift, to 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Those who don’t pray for God’s Kingdom to come, those interested in building their own kingdoms, they’re facing a rocky future. Find out why tomorrow, when Nancy’s back with Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1"This is My Father's World." Maltbie D. Babcock.

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