"The Prayer of Jesus" part 2
Your Kingdom Come...
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 25, 2009

Memory Verse:

Matthew 6:10 (NLT)
“May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”


[Read headlines from recent newspaper - about disaster, curruption, hopelessness, sickness...]

Our world needs help. I don’t think there’s any denying that. Our world needs help. And it doesn’t just need more therapy. It doesn’t need more war. It doesn’t need more money… what it needs is the radical intervention of God.

I think that’s the heart of what Jesus was talking about when He said…

Matthew 6:10 (NLT)
“May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

You may recognize that, of course, as coming from what we know as The Lord’s Prayer. It’s part of a prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples, not as a ritualistic prayer that they needed to repeat over and over again mindlessly, but as a prayer that can serve as an example for the rest of their prayers. There are principles presented in The Lord’s Prayer that can greatly enrich our own personal prayer lives and which can help us to experience a deeper communion with God. Which is really what prayer is about… connecting with God.

Last week, when we started this series, we looked at the first sentence of that prayer… “Our Father in Heaven, may Your name be kept holy.” If you happened to have grown up in the Church and memorized this prayer as a child, you probably know it from the Old King James translation, “Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

And what we learned is that this opening sentence was completely revolutionary for the first Christ-followers… these early Christians who would have come primarily from a Jewish heritage.

We talked at our LIFE Group here on Wednesday night about how for the Jews, they wouldn’t even say the name of God. The name of God in the Old Testament consists of four letters, YHWH, which we pronounce as Yahweh. Sometimes you might hear it as Yehovah or Jehovah. But for the Jews, they held the name of God in such reverence that they wouldn’t even say it out loud.

And then along comes Jesus. And while He tells us that the name of God is still to be respected as holy, we can also address Him intimately as “Father.” No one in the Old Testament ever directly addressed God as “Father”… in fact, most prayers were done by a priest or a king or a prophet. Most people didn’t pray directly to God. But then Jesus tells us we can pray directly to God. And what’s more, we can call Him “Father.” That would have been revolutionary. He’s the Transcendent God who rules over all, and at the same time He is intimately involved in our lives as Father.

So we talked about that last week. And we also talked about how in addressing God as Father, in addition to the intimacy, there’s also a spirit of submission.

He is the Father; we are His children. And while like most kids we may have a tendency to rebel, our relationship is healthiest when we recognize that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts… when we realize that the Almighty God loves us dearly and wants the best for us… and when in response we humble ourselves before Him and submit to His authority instead of rebelling.

And so we took a look at the word “submission.” [PowerPoint] “Sub-Mission.” It means that we place our mission under His mission. So right at the start of this model prayer that Jesus gives us, we see that prayer isn’t so much about getting God to rubber stamp our mission; it’s about us getting on board with His mission. We don’t bring God around to our way of thinking; prayer changes who we are and brings us around to His way of thinking.

And that really shines through the next part of the prayer… the verse that we’re looking at today. Read it with me…

Matthew 6:10 (NLT)
“May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”

Again, if you have it memorized, you know it as “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

(When I was a kid growing up, my brother offered to send me to kingdom come a few times. But I think that was different.)

Notice it’s “Thy Kingdom”, not “my kingdom.” It’s “Thy will,” not “my will.” It’s not about us getting our way or promoting our own self-interest. It’s about us getting on board with what God is doing, and participating in the expansion of His Kingdom on this planet.

Okay, so if you look at this verse, what do you see? It’s really a prayer for our world, isn’t it? It’s a prayer for God’s Kingdom to grow and expand in our world. It’s for God’s will to be done in our world. So that’s what we’re going to talk about for the rest of this time this morning. What does that kind of a prayer look like? How do we pray for our world?

How Do I Pray for the World?

1.    Pray for a massive turning to Jesus

I believe this is first and foremost what we need to be praying for in our world. That people everywhere will hear about Jesus, about what He’s done for them and about the forgiveness and life that He offers them today, and that they will respond by accepting Him and entering into a relationship with Him.

That was the very heartbeat of the ministry of Jesus, and it needs to be our heartbeat, too. And that means it needs to permeate into our prayers for our world.

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
[The Lord] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

It’s His desire that every person be given the opportunity to repent and place their faith in Him. Jesus talked with his disciples about people who were far from God… how there were so many of them, and so few people out there trying to point them toward God. And so He told the disciples…

Luke 10:2 (NLT)
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

So we need to be praying for this. But I should warn you, if you pray this, be prepared to be part of answer.

[PowerPoint] In the Old Testament, the city of Jerusalem was seen as the spiritual centre of Judaism. If you were going to worship God, then you’d go to the Temple in Jerusalem. So Jerusalem was really viewed as the epicenter for the Kingdom of God on earth.

Well, as they were prone to do from time to time, the Israelites turned their backs on God and as a result God allowed the city to be conquered by an invading army and for many of the residents to be taken away in to captivity in what was then the Babylonian Empire, modern day Iraq.

Well, for the Israelites taken away into exile under the Babylonians, they stayed that way for about sixty years, while the city of Jerusalem laid in ruins. And then the Persian Empire… Iran… conquered the Babylonians. So you see, these nations have a looonnng history. And under Persian rule, the Jews were permitted to go back to their homeland and the Persians would establish their rulers there.

So many went back; many didn’t. And the ones that did, didn’t do much to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

Until about 90 years later, one of the Jews still living in exile started to reflect on the condition of the city. His name was Nehemiah. He was actually working as a servant for the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, and so he asked the king for a leave of absence so he could go a visit Jerusalem. And the king granted his request.

So Nehemiah was in Jerusalem, and he took the time to ride around on horseback and survey the ruins. And what he saw moved him. And his heart began to swell up for the city to be rebuilt and for its glory to be restored… for the Kingdom of God in Jerusalem to be reestablished.

And so he started to pray for that to happen. And he fasted. I don’t fully understand it, but fasting seems to add a level of urgency to our prayers which God recognizes and responds to. And many times in the Bible, especially when praying for their nation or for their world, you see the Israelites combining their prayer with fasting. We’re not going to have time during this series to spend much time talking about fasting, but it is something you should consider, especially when praying for our world.

That’s what Nehemiah did when praying for Jerusalem to be rebuilt. And do you know how God answered his prayer? “Okay Nehemiah… go to it.” And so Nehemiah got permission from the Persian king, and then he organized and led a massive rebuilding project. God used Nehemiah to answer his own prayer.

When you look at the ruins of this world… when you see the devastation that sin and evil and corruption have brought… can you pray for the Kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in Heaven? And when you pray that, are you prepared for God to say, “Okay, go at it. I’m going to use you to answer that prayer”? When you pray for God to send workers into the harvest field, are you willing to be one of those workers?

And I’m not necessarily talking about becoming a missionary, although for some that is how God chooses to use them. No, I’m talking about you right now where your at… in your workplace, in your school, in your home, in your neighbourhood… Are you willing to be used by God to point people toward Him and to expand the Kingdom of God? In the way you live, in the conversations you have, will you allow God to use you to answer that prayer? Pray for a massive turning to Jesus, and be prepared for God to use you to answer that prayer.

2.    Pray for God’s values to be practiced in our society

Yes, we’re concerned that individuals come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We want people around the world to hear about Jesus and turn to Jesus and become followers of Jesus. We want people to experience redemption. We want people to be reconciled to God. And we need to be praying toward that end.

But we also need to be praying for more than that. Because not only do we want people to be redeemed; we want our culture to be redeemed. By that, I mean to say that want Godly values and principles and priorities to be recognized and practiced in our world. Jesus prayed not only that God’s Kingdom would come, but He also added…

Matthew 6:10 (NLT)
“…May Your will be done on earth…”

We’ve spent a lot of time this year looking at material by Chuck Colson. In his book “How Now Shall We Live?”, Chuck says…

“Understanding Christianity as a worldview is important not only for fulfilling the great commission but also for fulfilling the cultural commission – the call to create a culture under the Lordship of Christ.  God cares not only about redeeming souls but also about restoring His creation.  He calls us to be agents not only of His saving grace but also of His common grace.  Our job is not only to build up the Church but also to build a society to the glory of God.”
~ Charles Colson
How Now Shall We Live?, p.33

I think Chuck’s hit the nail on the head. I think when we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven, this is what we’re praying for. For God’s will to be done in and through individuals, as well as in and through our culture.

So pray, not just that individuals would come to know Jesus, but that as a society we would value the things God values, that we would be guided by Godly principles, that God’s will would be done in our world as it is in Heaven.

3.    Pray for our political leaders

This is connected to the last point, because politicians are often responsible for what happens in our culture. So we need to be praying for our political leaders.

But what if you vote Liberal? You’re not going to pray for Stephen Harper, are you? Or what if you vote Conservative? You’re not going to pray for Robert Ghiz, are you?

Or if you support the New Democratic Party, or you support the Green Party… or the Heritage Party, or if you watch reruns of Party of Five… whatever party you’re involved in… How could you ever pray for Shawn Murphy or Wayne Easter or Lawrence MacAulay or Gail Shea?

You know, our politicians sometimes make decisions and vote for things that I don’t agree with… even things that I think are sinful. And especially when they are doing things and making decisions that are in conflict with Biblical values, I think we do have a responsibility to oppose those decisions and promote Godly values.

But opposing their decisions does not mean opposing them. Even if you didn’t vote for them and never would vote for them, as Christ-followers we have a responsibility to pray for them. Not against them… for them.

Pray for them to come to Christ personally, or to grow in their relationship with Him, pray for them to have the insight and the foresight and the courage to govern wisely, pray that when they do make mistakes that they will be able to recognize them and correct them, pray that they themselves will be guided by the eternal principles of God, pray for their safety, pray for their integrity, pray for their health, pray for their families… there are all kinds of ways you can pray for them, and it has nothing to do with your political views. Praying for our leaders is not a partisan issue.

And that's not such a novel idea... apparently it's been around for quite some time. Almost two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote...

1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

And don't forget Peter's words...

1 Peter 2:13-14, 17 (NLT)
For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right… Fear God, and respect the king.

You and I are told to respect, honour and pray for the authorities that rule over us. All Christ-followers are to do that. Praying for our governing officials is not a partisan issue and it does not depend on who you voted for last time or who you will vote for next time. And it doesn’t even matter if you agree with everything they say or do. Pray for your leaders. That is our responsibility as believers. To pray… not only for the Prime Minister, but also for our Premier, our Members of Parliament, our mayor, Members of the Legislative Assembly, city councillors, and whoever else is in a position of authority in our government. Pray for them.

And why stop there? Pray for other world leaders, too, even when you disagree with their policies. Cut back on the criticism, stop the character assassination, and learn to pray for and support your leaders.

And listen… Even when there are world leaders who you think are evil, you can still pray for them. Pray for the power and presence of God to be realized in their lives, pray that God will soften their hearts and make them sensitive to His promptings, and pray for their personal needs for faith, security, trustworthy advisors, and for the health and welfare of their families.

Can you do that? Will you pray for your leaders on a regular basis? Maybe daily, maybe weekly, maybe monthly? Will you commit yourself to praying for them?

I brought with me this morning eight letters: one to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, one to Premier Robert Ghiz, one to MP Shawn Murphy, one to each of the four Senators from PEI, and one to Mayor Clifford Lee. If you will commit to praying for them, then I want you to sign your name at the bottom of each letter. And then I’m going to mail it to them. Just to let them know that as Christ-followers, even though we may not agree with everything they say or do, we are praying for them.

And number four… when you pray for the world, pray for those who most need God’s intervention in respect to the conditions they live in.

4.    Pray for the lost, the least, and the lonely

VIDEO – JUAN’S STORY (from the Operation Christmas Child promo DVD 2009, Canada)

Okay, obviously that video is an advertisement to encourage people to fill a box for Operation Christmas Child. And I hope you do that.

But I wanted you to hear Juan’s story. And I wanted you to hear how God used the Warkentin family to make a difference in Juan’s life.

Juan would have been someone you would consider to be among the lost, the least, the lonely of this world. And then along comes a shoebox full of gifts, followed by a visit by the Warkentin family.

Now, that video didn’t really talk about what motivated the Warkentin family to get involved. Why did they visit the orphanage? Why were they willing to spend the time and the money to get there? Why were they willing to give of themselves that way?

The video doesn’t really say, but I’m pretty confident that there would have been a lot of prayer involved. I don’t think all that happened on a whim; I think the Warkentin’s had spent considerable time praying for the lost, the least, and the lonely of this world… and through that time in prayer, God worked in their lives and led them to do something about it.

Our world… even our city… is full of people who would be considered by many to be the lost, the least, and the lonely. But they are each precious in God’s sight. And as we pray for them… pray for their needs to be met… pray for them to discover the richness of a relationship with Christ… God enables us to begin to see them through His eyes. And there’s no telling the difference that God can make through us. But it all begins with prayer.

Will you pray for the lost, the least, and the lonely?

Okay, that’s what I wanted to talk about here this morning. And just as I finish up and before we sing a few more songs, I have three things to mention…

First, if you weren’t here last week, then to go along with this series I handed out a rree book on prayer. If you didn’t get your copy, you can pick it up this morning.

Second, we talked earlier about praying for our leaders. I have those letters here for you to sign this morning.

And third, when we’re done there this morning, we’re not done yet. I want to encourage you when we’re done to go for a prayer drive. I have some booklets here, and you can take one with you. It suggests a number of locations across our city where you could go and pray. For example, you can go to one of the schools and pray for children and teens in our city. Or you can go to city hall and pray for our local government. There are different ideas like that.
Choose, say, three places where you can go right after we’re done here. Perhaps you’d like to carpool with someone else, and go and pray in those locations. Maybe you can do more than three, maybe you won’t even get that far. And maybe you’ll want to do all of them over the course of the week. The choice is yours.
And then at 1:00, we have the party room at the Magic Wok reserved and you’re welcome to join us there for lunch. Okay?



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