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It’s true of human nature in the world and it’s very apparent in our own nearer cultures—country, state, even in our smallest of sub-cultures, Christian congregation and family—we love things our way. One fast-food chain runs a slogan that knows us well: “Where you can have it your way.” When a wedding comes up or a baby is due to be born, friends and family get us gifts, but not without consulting our “registry” where we tell them exactly which gifts are the “right ones” to gift us.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray for gifts to come to us, specifically the gifts of His Kingdom: THY KINGDOM COME. But when we unpack this little prayer given us by Jesus, we recognize that Jesus didn’t ask us first to fill out our “registry”—where we would tell our Heavenly Father specifically which gifts are good for Him to gift us. Rather, Jesus teaches us to pray for Our Heavenly Father’s “registry of gifts”—for His Kingdom to come. Our penchant for autonomy and individuality tells us this is risky business at best. But our flesh couldn’t be more wrong!
When our Father causes His Kingdom to come, He gifts to us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the courier of the Father’s grace—His undeserved love for us in Christ Jesus. And with this grace, the Spirit brings us to believe and keep us believing our Father’s holy Word. As a result of this gifted grace, the Spirit leads us to live in love toward God and our neighbor. When we pray for God’s Kingdom to come, it isn’t our registry. It’s a beg for God’s good gifts to come to us.
And as long as our prayerful asks are cutting against our natural instincts, Jesus doubles down with a second “saying” that goes against every fiber of our self-sufficiency: THY WILL BE DONE on earth as it is in heaven. Right after teaching us to pray for our Father’s gift registry and not our own, Jesus teaches us to pray for our Father’s will (His ways) to be accomplished in our lives even if they fight against our own preferences.
Now this petition certainly doesn’t get in the way of the Bible’s instruction to bring any care or concern to our Father in prayer: Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). What this second against-the-flesh petition does is play both offense and defense! It prays for our Father to flourish among us whatever daily bread (“on-earth”) gifts are good for us even while praying for God to hinder or foil whatever requests or desires we make that would serve the Devil, the ways of the world, or our own sinful flesh. It’s hard to hear, but part of us being “children” of the Father is accepting that plenty of the wills and wishes of our hearts would be detrimental to faith, bodily well-being, or both. With this petition, Jesus causes us to hedge our prayers in such a way that they will always serve the good: the Father’s will be done! If my requests prove to be in keeping with God’s will, God be praised. But if God denies your specific request—grants the opposite—thanks be to God for preserving me even from myself.
Jesus gives us great comfort in keeping with this petition:
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will Your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit (good gifts) to those who ask Him!’ (Luke 11:13).
Lord, teach us to pray for Your Good Gifts, Your Good Ways.
THY KINGDOM COME
The kingdom of God certainly comes of itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.
How does God’s kingdom come?
The kingdom of God comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.
THY WILL BE DONE
What does this mean?
The good and gracious will of God is certainly done without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done also among us.
How is God’s will done?
God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow His name nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world and our own flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith until our end. This is His good and gracious will.
Rev. Kyle Madson