Matthew 6:9-15 Part 4 Vs. 10

“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Looking at the language first, this morning, what we find here is Jesus instructing us to pray for that which is already commanded and provided.  And we are told to do so in some rather unique terms and forms.

In the first place, this grammar is very interesting, because these petitions are set in the form of imperatives!  And imperatives, as you may know, are commands – in Greek and in English.

And these two verbs, which, by the way, are both placed at the beginning (emphasizing the action to be done), are in forms which portray action which has a starting point and an ending.  In other words they aren’t continuous action or repetitive type verbs.  They portray a specific time frame.

So, when we put that all together – the emphasis, the kind of action, and the right translation, then we get something like this:  “Come – Your Kingdom!  Be done – Your will, as in heaven also on earth!”  In fact, there are a couple of words that we could change in order to get even closer to the true translation – “Arrive – your Kingdom!  Be accomplished – Your will – as in heaven also on earth!”

We’ll get to the significance of those word changes shortly, but I want to spend a few minutes on the meaning of the imperative form of the verbs here.  Remember, the imperative is the command kind of action.  When the imperative is used, one is usually telling another to do something.

But of course it’s quite obvious that men – not even the adopted sons of God – don’t approach God and tell Him what to do!  He’s not One to be commanded.  In fact, it’s not even an appropriate concept to consider!  Just thinking about giving God a command is faithless and profane, and would militate against the first petition – which is “hallowed be Your Name!”

So, the next question that comes up is why, then, does Jesus prescribe the imperative, or command, form of action in these verbs?  “Arrive, Your Kingdom.  Be accomplished, Your will….”  If it’s profane to approach God in this manner, wouldn’t it be prescribed by Jesus to say it another way?  There are a lot of Greek forms and kinds of action that could have been used if this approach was offensive.

But, as we’ve already seen in another sermon on this prayer, our Lord is very specific in choosing His words and his grammar, isn’t He?  He said nothing that was meaningless – or meaningfully wrong!  And all that He said was right, and it was purposeful!  Everything He said was said exactly the way He wanted to say it.  After all, Jesus is God the Son!

And He did instruct us here in the pattern for prayer – and the pattern for life – to pray to our Father using imperative type language!

Now, this isn’t one of those places where you can just flip off a Scripture verse to give an answer and cover the subject!  Hardly ever is that an appropriate thing to do; and hardly ever is the subject matter handled correctly by doing that!  You can’t just rattle off Hebrews four, verse sixteen “let us therefore come boldly before the Throne of grace that we may obtain mercy….” And expect that to suffice.

Jesus instructs us to use the imperative form here, because it is a fervent and faithful response to the revealed facts of the case!  The imperative here isn’t a command to God to do something we want Him to do, or something He hasn’t thought of yet; it is a fervent, and joyful, and excited response to that which has been revealed as having been accomplished!

Remember the context.  As prophesied by God, Jesus had come.  And He was about to be raised the Son of God with Power – the King Whom God had promised in Psalm chapter two and a thousand other Old Testament prophecies; and Who had said only a short time before He began this sermon “the Kingdom is at hand!”

Who has very specifically described His Own disciples in the beatitudes, and in the salt and light passage, and in the passage on obedience to God’s Holy Law in chapter five.  And the teaching on prayer comes right after that, and in the immediate context of His teaching concerning putting away the old self.  This is prophesied in the Old Testament, in Jeremiah.

And He said that when you pray you don’t concentrate on yourself like the Pharisees do.  Self-exaltation isn’t prayer.  Self-exaltation is self-exaltation!  It has nothing to do with exalting and honoring God!  People trying to build self-esteem, like for others to see them and hear them praying; but the one who honors and exalts God doesn’t display his piety to impress others!  He does it to glorify God!  He goes to his own chamber and mortifies the self in order to glorify God!  Building self-esteem is the opposite of the Christian life! 

And then Jesus said neither can you manipulate God by using the unknown language babbling of the eastern mystery religions!  God doesn’t respond to people rattling on and on and on in ridiculous tones and phrases as if God needed to be impressed by your gifts and your piety!  You don’t use pagan methods and satanic deceptions to get God’s attention!  That’s not the pattern for life – that’s death!

He said, “When you pray, pray like this – “Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be Your Name.  Arrive – Your Kingdom!  Be accomplished – Your will, as in heaven, so also on earth….”

Your babbling doesn’t glorify God – your self-esteem doesn’t glorify God – your concentration on self doesn’t glorify God – your need to impress others doesn’t glorify God.

The apostle James says that the faithful prayer of a righteous man availeth much… and the faithful prayer is one that recognizes God for Who He is – and what He’s done – and what He has revealed!  A faithful prayer is one which mortifies self – and faithful prayer is one which glorifies the heavenly Father!

Jesus says – “pray like this….”   This is the faithful prayer.  This is the pattern for prayer.  This is the pattern for your life!  He says!

People want to concentrate on themselves – get involved in this very individual and personal religion – have all these personal gifts – experience to thrill – be emotionally caught up – be involved in the realness of the experience with God.  They want to be satisfied!  They want to be impressed by it all!

But ultimately that’s a glorification of self!  It’s a concentration on self!  It’s an inward looking religion and it’s pagan, and it’s Pharisaical!

Jesus said, “When you pray, pray like this….”  And He proceeds to instruct us to pray faithfully – in other words, to pray in faith!  This is our pattern for all our prayer.  And it’s the pattern for all our life.

And what is the primary emphasis of the prayer?  Who is the focus of the prayer?

It is God – and His revealed Kingdom – and His revealed Will – and His security – and His giving – and His forgiving.  It is His glory; and our end and purpose in life is to give Him glory.

We turn our eyes from self – from our self-made religion – from the satisfactions of our own religious experiences – and we completely turn everything around to focus on Him!  This is true of our lives as well – this is what repentance is!  This is what faithful living is!  But we turn our attention from self to God, and we witness the full revelation of Himself, not only in all of creation but especially in His written word!  And the vigorous and fervent response to that revelation is the reason for the use of the imperative here in Jesus’ teaching!

He says, “Pray like this … Arrive Your Kingdom! … Be accomplished, Your will!...”  You will see very easily that that is a fervent response to God’s revelation of Himself.  It is full of emotion and passion!

But that passion isn’t inwardly concentrated!  It is directed God-ward!  The pleasure is not in self, but in God!  The speech isn’t directed toward self, and toward the experience of prayer, but it is spoken to God – for His glory, and praise and honor!

And, thirdly, it is not only fervent, and it’s not only God-directed, but it is faithful!  Here’s the third key ingredient, isn’t it?  It is FAITHFUL!  Faith is the true response to the revelation of God!  That’s the definition of faith.  God speaks – and man responds truly.  A false or improper response isn’t faith, is it?  A false or improper response to the revelation of God is unfaithfulness, isn’t it?

And one whose prayer is self-directed, and whose religion is self-directed, would concentrate on the response – he would say, “I responded to, or encountered God!”  But that’s not faith!  We must take our eyes off of self and place them on God!  The experience of the response fills the Pharisaical heart with pious emotion!  Religious sentiments and fervor does not make a faithful man!  The true response to the revelation of God is faith!

And when Jesus says, “Pray like this…”  He casts the prayer in the imperative mode because the prayer is (1) fervent – it is (2) directed toward God – and it is (3) a faithful response to what God has said!  Therefore we can go before Almighty God and say “Let it be what You have said!”  “O God, bring it to pass!  Your Word says You have already set Your King upon Your Holy Mount; and that He would crush all of Your enemies and subdue all the nations!  Let that be done!  Arrive Your Kingdom!  Be accomplished, Your will….”

You see, God had told us what He is going to do.  He has already told us what His plans are for His creation.  He’s declared His purpose!  He’s revealed what we are as the children of promise – and why we’re here!  And Jesus said that prayer is to be directed toward Him – fervent – and that it’s to fit in to what He has said!

It is not to be directed us-ward, but it is to be directed God-ward!  And it is to reflect the plan, and purpose, and direction of God for His Son, and for His creation, and for His people, and for His church, and for His enemies.  It is to glorify Him for His creation, and for His glory, and for His mercy, and for His justice, and for His salvation!  It is to laud and honor Him – and worship Him – for Who He is and what He has done!

Once again, prayer is not esteem-building psycho-motivation!  It is not a session of behavior modification!  It is not for receiving the accolades of men.  It is not for getting God’s attention.  It is not a time for the demonstration for our gifts! (true or pagan)  It is not a time for enhancing the inner man!

Prayer is faithful and fervent speech to Almighty God which is patterned after the supreme example which our Lord Jesus Christ gives us!  Its focus is God-ward.  Its tone is worshipful.  Its purpose is to extend honor and glory to the Sovereign God of heaven and earth.

And there’s nothing more glorifying to God than for His people to passionately pray for the accomplishment and consummation of His revealed purposes!  As we said before, that’s the faithful and fervent prayer of a righteous man!

And He says for us to pray for the coming of His Kingdom and for His will to be done – as in heaven, so also on earth! – two things clearly revealed in the Word of God as being His purpose!

Now, I mentioned earlier that “arrive” your Kingdom, is a little better language than “come” Your Kingdom.  And that “be accomplished” Your will, is better than “be done” Your will.  Now, we are better served by a broader translation here because the concept of the Kingdom and the Sovereign will of God ought not to be limited by certain restrictions of words!

Remember, we saw in the exegesis of second Peter that the concept of the “coming” of Christ is often confused by those who think that that is all to be in the future!  Here, the same thing is true, because the words “Thy Kingdom come” carry with it baggage or restriction to future tense.  The term “arrive” isn’t quite so restrictive – and it must not be; for the Kingdom of God is.

And yet there is a fullness of the Kingdom which is yet to come!  That is not to say that God does not reign over all His creation in complete sovereignty.  He does!  But there is not yet a complete acknowledgment of that in space and time.  And there is not yet a complete submission to that reign and rule!

Psalm one hundred three says, “The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His Kingdom ruleth over all.”  And, as we said earlier, Psalm two is the announcement of the installation of God’s King over all the nations – one thousand years before He was even born!

So there is the absolute rule of God over all created things, and yet there is a process of conforming all those things to the heavenly model.  And then there is a consummating perfection of all things in Christ Jesus as He subdues all things as its King – the earth and the principalities and powers of the air – culminating in the destruction of death and hell, and the return of it all to God for His glory.

Now, the same thing is true about “Be done Your will.”  “Be done” gives the futuristic impression that God’s will is not being done now, but that it will be done later.  And this has even led many Theologians to believe that there are two different wills of God!  One will which is revealed to men, and one will which is secret!  It is not a never-ending, futuristic time frame, but (imperative) a specific time of starting and ending.

But these attempts at explanations are simply attempts to cover up the very obvious, which is that God’s Sovereign will is being accomplished – and that He has a consummatory goal – an end – to which He is even now moving!  And that goal is that His will be done on earth as in heaven!  In heaven all is submissive to Him; and on earth all is being made submissive to Him!

And our fervent, faithful prayer is that His Kingdom, beginning with the advent of Jesus Christ, be manifested in arrival – that men and women and children, and families, tribes and nations be submitted to the reign and rule of God the Son.

And it is our fervent and faithful prayer that His Sovereign will be manifested on earth as it is in Heaven – that the process of subduing be accomplished, and that God be acknowledged by every creature, every knee bowed before Him, that He is Lord God of all.

Next Lord’s Day there will be a closer examination of what the Kingdom is – and what the will of God is; for we need to know more about the things for which we are instructed to pray.

Then after that, a couple of weeks on our praying for our own needs.  Jesus gives us a pattern for that, too.  Then, after that, the words of Jesus concerning the mortification of the flesh.  May God bless the folly of preaching to the edification and preserving of His Church.  Amen.