Reflections on Prayer - March
“Thy Kingdom Come.”
By Lisa Espinoza
What images and thoughts come to mind when you hear the word kingdom? Castles, royalty, riches and power perhaps? Something expansive and impressive right?
No one awaiting the coming Messiah could have imagined that the kingdom they were expecting was essentially the opposite of their preconceived notions. It’s like God decided to play the opposite game we used to play as kids. Want to be great? Serve everyone. Want to see God? Humble yourself. Want to live a great life? Give your life away.
Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy talks of God’s kingdom as “the range of God’s effective will, where what He wants done is done.” So when we follow Christ’s instruction to pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are asking that obedience to His principles would guide our hearts and infiltrate the world’s social and political realms. We see His kingdom increasingly established in us and in our world as we follow the example of Christ who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant …and humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7,8)
May God reveal to us His kingdom ways and empower us to live them out for His glory.
Each day this week, read Matthew 5:2-12, often referred to as the beatitudes (from a Latin word meaning happy or blessed). Does this sound like the kind of people a king would want to populate his kingdom? Jesus includes the mourning, the merciful, the gentle in those inheriting the kingdom. In this season of your life, which of the beatitudes do you most relate to? Which are most perplexing to you? Write a prayer of thanksgiving to God for making His kingdom accessible to you here and now through the grace of Jesus Christ.
This week play the opposite game. Pay close attention to what is valued, applauded and rewarded in our society as you read the newspaper, watch TV, talk with co-workers, mingle with friends. Notice your own tendencies to move toward or away from God’s kingdom ways. Journal about your findings each day and pray that your heart would be captivated by the “opposites” that God values and rewards.
A powerful contemporary song by Clay Crosse entitled “I Surrender All” says, “I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams, though the price to follow cost me everything. I surrender all my human soul desires. If sacrifice requires that all my kingdoms fall…I surrender all.” This week ask God to reveal to you any kingdoms in your life that need to be surrendered to His reign. Use these words from “I Surrender All” or write your own prayer asking God for the grace and courage to relinquish control in these areas of your life.
The Bible instructs us to pray for our leaders and those in authority (I Timothy 2:1,2). If you’re like me, you sometimes wonder, “Why should I pray for world leaders---does it really make a difference?” Reminds me of my kids when they ask, “WHY do I have to do this?” As a parent, I know why…though they may not “get it” until they have their own kids (and then discover what a brilliant mother they had after all). This week, in simple obedience to scripture, pray that the righteousness and justice of God’s kingdom would come to bear in the leadership of our country and countries throughout the world. Name any specific leaders or countries that come to mind.