Your kingdom come, your will be done

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Matthew 6:10

Familiar words from the prayer that Jesus talk his disciples, when they asked him to teach them how to pray. A prayer that is used regularly in our church services and maybe too sometimes in our schools and homes. It’s the ‘go to’ prayer for many, one they repeated so often in their youth that it’s indelibly etched into their minds.

Look at what we’re praying there. Let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. How often do we pray those words without realising the full implications of what we are asking for.

God’s kingdom on earth – how will that happen? What will that look like?

Micah gives us a glimpse of this in Micah 4.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it. Micah 4:1

We don’t know when; we don’t know where; we don’t know how. All we know is that God’s kingdom will come, when His temple is established. A place of worship dedicated to Him alone, raised high above every other mountain and drawing all people to His holy presence.

And this is the invitation.

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.’  Micah 4:2

It’s not just to have a wonderful time of worship, a mountain top experience. It’s inextricably linked to the second part of that line from the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Your will be done.’ For God’s will to be done, we have to know what it is. We have to learn what it is. We have to learn His ways so that we can walk in them.

And so His law will go out from this holy place. He will settle disputes and restore justice. And there will be peace.

They will beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.  Micah 4:3

For too long, it’s been the other way round. Tools creating for growing crops have been turned into instruments of war. God will reverse this process. There will be no need for weapons because everyone will know their place and their role and will be content with that.

Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig-tree,
and no one will make them afraid.  Micah 4:4

Don’t think by this that I mean that the poor and exploited should accept their lot and keep quiet. Not at all. If the rich and powerful took this teaching on board, then the poor would no longer be poor and the exploited would no longer be exploited. Of course, when Jesus said the poor will always be with us, he was not wrong, because the rich and powerful will never all relinquish their power and share their riches, will they? Jesus’ often misunderstood statement is an indictment on the rich, rather than the poor.

All the nations may walk
in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord
our God for ever and ever.  Micah 4:5

May this be our intention.

And when we pray ‘Your will be done’, do we actually have any idea of what that looks like in practice? Micah goes on to give us an idea.

‘In that day,’ declares the Lord,

‘I will gather the lame;
I will assemble the exiles
and those I have brought to grief.
I will make the lame my remnant,
those driven away a strong nation.’  Micah 4:6-7

That’s where God’s will is being worked out: on the margins, amongst the weak and damaged and less able, amongst the outcasts and marginalised. Good news for those of us who feel pretty screwed up and on the edges right now. This is where God is to be found.

And this is where we have got it so wrong. We’re looking for God in all the wrong places. God’s kingdom is an upside-down kingdom, where the first shall be last and the last shall be first. That’s what we’re praying for when we pray ‘Your kingdom come’.

There’s some tough times ahead for God’s people before they will see this vision become a reality. It’s not going to happen in their lifetime. During their earthly life that is. They’re going to cry out and writhe in agony like a woman in labour. They’re going to lose their homes. They who thought they had it all sorted are going to become those they looked down on and exploited – they are going to become the weak and marginalised. Only then will they understand the kingdom and the will of God. Only then will God turn the situation on its head and show His hand.

But now many nations
are gathered against you.
They say, ‘Let her be defiled,
let our eyes gloat over Zion!’
But they do not know
the thoughts of the Lord;
they do not understand his plan,
that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing-floor.  Micah 4:11-12

Remember this next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer. Remember this glimpse of God’s kingdom and His will.

Be careful what you wish for. Be careful what you pray for.

Only say it if your mean it.

And then get out there, find where God’s establishing His kingdom and get stuck in!

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