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Catechism Class – Praying About the Kingdom of God

01/02/2021

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 48

Praying about the Kingdom of God.  Q123

The catechist is teaching us about the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:7-8 We MUST consider carefully every line of the Lord’s prayer, so that we can use it as a tool, a model prayer, to shape the petitions of our daily prayers, to teach us how we should pray.  Luke 11:1  

So now we come to the second petition of the prayer, and our instructor in the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “What is the second petition?  Your kingdom come.  That is: So rule us by your Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to you. Preserve and increase your church.  Destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against you, and every conspiracy against your holy Word.  Do all this until the fullness of your kingdom comes, wherein you shall be all in all.”  The catechist identifies four different features of God’s kingdom, and teaches us to pray about each of those features. My life is part of the Kingdom of God, His Church is part of His kingdom, His kingdom is the battle against evil and God’s kingdom has an eschatological, ‘end-time’ dimension.   All of these areas are part of God’s Kingdom, but every constituent part is worth our prayers.

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1 Grow your kingdom within me

So rule us by your Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to you.  We are his SUBJECTS and he will rule over us and we will humbly surrender to him.  So when we pray this petition, we are firstly asking that the kingdom of God be established in my own life, that God will rule over me.  The catechist reminds us of how we grow in grace, and how we become better citizens of his kingdom:-

  • By God’s WORD.  If we really want to be good citizens of the Kingdom of God, we MUST spend time reading and studying and meditating upon the word of God. Psalm 119:105 It is through the entry of God’s word into our lives that is how God extends his kingdom within you and me, as we submit more and more to his kingly rule.  Psalm 119:130  
  • By God’s SPIRIT.   Psalm 143:10   Now as the word enters into our lives, changing us, the Holy Spirit applies it, and works a sanctifying work within us.  2 Corinthians 3:17-18  

So when we pray, ‘Thy kingdom come’ we are asking that God would transform us, and bring us more into dependence upon him, more in conformity with his will, through the cleansing effect of the Word of God, and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 5:25-27

2 Grow your kingdom in your churchPreserve and increase your church.  Psalm 51:18  

Remember that the church is comprised of sinners, people whose natural tendency is to go the opposite direction to the way God leads us.  So the catechist sees two prayers for the church in this petition:-

  • That the church may be preserved.  Left to us the church would be quickly destroyed, force are sinners, with sinful hearts.   Instead let us earnestly pray that the Lord would preserve us, and preserve our churches from our sinful backsliding ways.    Psalm 122:6–9  
  • That the church may be increased.  Acts 2:42–47  Critics of the Heidelberg Catechism can make the point that there is little teaching on missions and evangelism.  That criticism would hold some weight, but here in our prayers we are reminded by our instructor that it is God’s will that the church should not be numerically static, that it should increase.  

So we pray for the church to be preserved, but we also pray for it to be increased.  Matthew 16:18.  

3 Grow your kingdom in victory over evilDestroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against you, and every conspiracy against your holy Word. 

In the Lord’s Prayer, when we pray ‘They kingdom come’ we are praying for God to wage that warfare, and for Him to be victorious in the battle against evil. 1 John 3:8  There are seems to be three enemies identified here:

  • The works of the devil. The devil is working. 1 Peter 5:8  But remember that the devil is a defeated foe – Romans 16:20   So, we pray that Satan will be crushed, that his plans will be thwarted and his nefarious schemes brought to nought.  
  • Anti-Christian powers.  The catechist speaks of ‘every power that raises itself against you.’ We pray for those Christians who are suffering from persecution and fear because of ‘powers realised against the Lord and his church.’
  • Conspiracies aimed at the Word of God.  There is a particular enemy within visible Christendom itself, and that is the subtle attacks upon the Word of God, and the catechist is careful to include this. Every liberal deceit, every doctrinal downgrade begins with an attack on Scripture – by asking ‘Is that really what God said?’  The very same question posed by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  Genesis 3:1  

When we pray ‘the kingdom come’ we are led to understand that the devil’s work and his kingdom will be destroyed, in all its aspects.  

4 Grow your kingdom until God’s Glory reigns everywhereDo all this until the fullness of your kingdom comes, wherein you shall be all in all.   

It’s important to remember that the Kingdom of God is for the HERE and NOW, in us, in the church, in the ongoing battle against evil, but the Kingdom of God is also IN THE FUTURE.  Right now God reigns in the hearts of believers, who owe willing allegiance to Him, but a day will come, when Jesus will rule over all the earth, and all will acknowledge him as king.  Philippians 2:10-11  When that happens, then his glory will be the basis and object of society, throughout the universe, and his praise on everyone’s lips.  1 Corinthians 15:28  . Romans 8:22-24 

We pray, Thy Kingdom Come’ and we ask that the Lord would very soon establish his visible reign over all the earth and the universe, in a Kingdom where everyone will bow to Him, all evil will be dissipated, all dead defeated, all pain and suffering banished forever.  

Thy Kingdom Come!

© BobMcEvoy February 2021

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