When You Pray
By Edgar Jones
3. The Lord's Prayer: The Second Petition
The previous article, The First Petition, examined the first line of the Lord's Prayer. This one examines only the second line, that is as follows:Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)This may appear to be two petitions, but it is really only one, as I will show. We will proceed here by asking, and listening, for Jesus' answer, to three pertinent questions:1. What did Jesus mean by "Thy kingdom come"?Remember, we do not ask how I, you, the churchmen, or anyone other than Jesus understands this petition. We must permit Jesus to interpret it for us, so I do not ask you to consider my interpretation, or that of the churchmen or anyone apart from a primary reliance on the utterances of the Lord. This paper will, of necessity, reveal how I have come to understand him, and why. Don't believe it on my account, but prove all things by references to the utterances of Jesus of Nazareth. I seek only to be his witness, testifying in his behalf and according to his Great Commission. These questions are addressed at length in another paper on this site, The Gospel of the Kingdom. I refer you there for the details of what I present only briefly in this paper.
2. What did Jesus mean by "Thy will be done"?
3. How does Jesus intend that his disciples understand this petition?
We go now to the first question listed above.
I. What Does Jesus mean by "Thy Kingdom Come"?
The kingdom is fundamental in the gospel according to Jesus. He began his preaching by the assertion, "The kingdom of God is at hand." He continually spoke of the nearness of the kingdom, and of the time of its coming to earth. He left this world revealing, by his last cry from the cross, exactly when the kingdom comes -- its exact moment.
During the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus lifted a cup and said,. . . for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. (Luke 22:18)If we make a reasonable assumption that this took place about 9 pm, then it was only 3 pm the next day, some 18 hours later, that he cried out from the cross, "I thirst!" (John 19:28) This cry produced a fruit of the vine, which he then received, or drank, as his last act before death.
By this cry, and this drinking, he signaled to all that the moment of his death was the exact moment of the coming of the kingdom of God to earth. They had offered a fruit of the vine for him to drink just before he was nailed to the cross but he refused it at that time because the kingdom had not come and did not come for six more hours.
It's coming in that wonderful and awful moment was complete and final. There is nothing more to come because Jesus expressed it, in Luke 22:18, in the Greek aorist tense, elthe, "be come". This tense defines an action that is both instantaneous and complete. The kingdom came finally, fully, and completely in that moment.
I should also note that the RSV translation given above is misleading by the inclusion of the phrase, "from now on", which allows for a very long time to follow before again drinking the fruit of the vine. The Greek is simply ou me, or "not at all". This may reflect the influence, on the translators, of the common view of churchmen that the kingdom has not come to earth even yet, as indicated by their continuing practice of offering up this petition, "Thy kingdom come." A more accurate rendition is:. . . for I tell you that I shall not at all drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.It follows that, in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus was instructing his disciples to pray for the fulfillment of the moment of this consummate coming of the kingdom of the Father. He did not instruct either them or us to continue to repeat this petition after it had been granted, but he earnestly wanted their prayers to be offered up, in secret and in their rooms with the doors closed, until the moment was fulfilled.
So, by simply listening to Jesus, we have learned exactly when the kingdom of God came on earth. This must also reveal something of the nature of the kingdom. It reveals what the kingdom is not as well as indicating what it is. So we have our answer to the first question above. Jesus was instructing his disciples to pray for the fulfillment of that which he accomplished at his death.
Answering the second question that I have listed above will clarify the meaning of the kingdom:
We must go directly to Chapter 6 of the Fourth Gospel to get our answer. Here is the pertinent text:
2. What did Jesus mean by "Thy will be done"?38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me;This is the answer to our question, and I hesitate to add anything to it. But I must, because the influence of the churchmen in Christendom is so great as to cause us to miss the obvious if we do not emphasize it. Most of you will have read over these words many times without perceiving their significance.
39 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.
40 For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Jesus was on the earth when he uttered these words, therefore he had "come down from heaven" to the earth for the specified purpose. It was his personal task to do "the will of him who sent me" (the Father) on the earth as it is done in heaven. That was why the Father had sent him! This fully explains the wording of the petition.
This text (John 6:38-40) is therefore a direct explanation of the petition of the Prayer. He was asking his disciples to pray for him, that he would prevail over all temptations to do other than the will of the Father on the earth, for which he was sent. And thus he instructed them to pray,"Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."But this text does much more in that it directly defines what Jesus meant by "the will of him who sent me." He defines it, not once, twice for emphasis. These definitions are:1. . . . this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.
2. . . . For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
I Conclude the Following:
1. ". . . the will of him who sent me" is equivalent to "the will of my Father."
2. ". . . all that he has given me" is equivalent to "every one who sees the Son and believes in him."
3. The resurrection "at the last day" is the consummation of the Father's will, apart from which the Father's will is not done. This resurrection will occur on the earth, therefore this is the final consummation of the Father's will "on earth". The ultimate expression of the Father's will as it is done on earth is the resurrection of his children to eternal life "at the last day".
4. The ones to be raised at the last day include "every one who sees the Son and believes in him."
5. They will be raised to eternal life.
6. It is Jesus, the Son, who will raise them in this consummation of the Father's will on earth.
7. Anything that any one does on the earth that contributes to this resurrection at the last day must also be the doing of the Father's will on the earth. This includes everything that Jesus did on the earth, and it includes what other do who follow him.
How Does One Qualify?
The fourth and fifth conclusions listed leads us to ask, "How does one see the Son and believe in him so as to qualify for the resurrection to eternal life?
Jesus answered that question for us directly when he explained his own crucifixion in the following words from the Chapter 12 of the Fourth Gospel:25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.This is his Great Principle. We "see the Son" when we see Jesus taking up his cross and marching off to Calvary, in compliance with this principle and blazing the trail for others. We "believe in him" only when we believe what he said, taking up our crosses and following him. This is the bottom line for performing the will of the Father on the earth, apart from which no one, including Jesus, can qualify for a resurrection to the Father and his glorious eternal life.
Jesus was the first to do the Father's will on the earth by manifesting the Great Principle and by exemplifying it through laying his life down on the cross so as to be raised to the right hand of the Father in heaven. This is what he meant by. . . thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.I conclude, therefore, that when he instructed his disciples to pray,Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven,He was requesting their prayers for him, that he would, as I said above, prevail over all temptations and manifest the hatred of life by going to a cross so as to be resurrected "on earth", thus doing the Father's will on earth. When we thus pray, we are asking, like Jesus, that we may have strength to prevail over all temptations and do the Father's will as manifested in the Great Principle, so as to participate in the resurrection (on the earth) at the last day. Jesus prevailed; he did the Father's will on earth by hating his life on earth so as to rise and go to the Father. It is only because Jesus prevailed and rose that he is able to raise up others who follow him.
The Father's will is done in heaven in that all who share with him in his glorious eternal life want only to be there with him, as he wants them there in fellowship with himself and in his love for them. When we, here on the earth, truly want only to be there with him rather than remain here, we are doing the Father's will on the earth as it is done in heaven through this manifestation of our love for Him, in that we want only to be with him as he wants us to be with him. We thus qualify for the resurrection that is the will of the Father performed on the earth. That, and that alone, is what our Lord is instructing us to pray for when we enter into our rooms, shut the door, and say to him, "They will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
An Example - The Parable of the Lost Son
Jesus told a parable, commonly called the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11f), that illustrates what we are seeking to communicate here. You should read the parable if you need to refresh your memory. Here we will examine only its bare essence. It is a story about a son who claimed his inheritance and forsook his father and his father's house to pursue his fortune in a far country. His father did not want him to leave, and while he was gone his father experienced a great loss and grieved at the absence of the son whom he considered both lost and dead, for he did not anticipate seeing him again.
This parable becomes relevant when we realize that the will of the lost son's father was one thing exclusively: "Oh, that my lost son would come home!" The father had this single desire for the son, and none other. While the son remained in the far country, he could do absolutely nothing that would please his father other than to return home because the father was not concerned about anything other than the return of his son.
But finally there came a day in the far country when, troubled by great adversity, the son began to think of his father's house and all the love and acceptance he experienced there. The result was that, as Jesus said, he "came to himself" and made his great resolution: I will arise and go to my father!"
On that day, while still in the far country, he did the will of his father, even while yet in the far country. His father's will was done, for the first time, in the far country (earth) as it was continually done in the father's house (heaven). The will of his father was that he come home; when that became the will of the son, then and only then was the will of the father done in the far country as it was in the father's house. The father wanted absolutely nothing else of him. And so, rising, home he went to the father's great joy, illustrating that there is great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, which was the point of the parable in its immediate context.
This indicates, of course, that "the father's house" in the parable represents heaven, where the father's joy was expressed. The far country, then, represents planet earth, were all of God's children labor and struggle to work out their lives, often thinking that their father is concerned with what they accomplish on the earth from day to day. Not so! The Father has only one desire for all of his children: come home! We do his will on the earth only when, like the prodigal resolving to return to his father's house, we also resolve to return to our Father's house, which is heaven. There is no other way we can do God's will on the earth unless it contributes directly to this end, that the Father's will is done and his children return home to him.
Jesus knew all of this, for the Father had sent him to inform all who were to become his children. But, like the lost son, Jesus also, a son of the father, found himself separated from the Father's house, in a far country and, like any man, sorely tempted to love his life there just as the Lost Son loved his life in the far country. There were many powerful temptations, including that of his countrymen seeking to make him their king by force (John 6:15), and of the devil offering him all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8, Luke 4:5).
Jesus also knew that, as a part of his task, he must demonstrate the will of the Father as verbalized in the Great Principle when his time had come. He must himself become the incarnate expression of the Father's will by going, of his own free will and desire, to the Father's house. His coming to earth was only to that end; everything he did, all he taught, his miracles -- it was all to the end that he give up his life in the world on a cross so as to return to the Father. It was only by so doing that he, or anyone else, could do the will of the Father on earth as it is done in heaven.
Therefore, when Jesus instructed his disciples to pray, saying,Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven,It was, in the first instance, intended that they pray for him, as I stated above, so that he would thus do the Father's will on earth, as it is done in heaven. He was sorely tempted to avoid the cross, as revealed by the night of agonizing in Gethsemane where we find him crying out repeatedly, "Father, not my will but yours be done!"
In the second instance, as when we today enter into our rooms, close the door and pray in secret, it is a prayer that we will do on the earth what Jesus did, by taking up our crosses and following him to the Father's house. The Father has no other desire for us, therefore that is the sole manner in which we can perform his will on the earth as it is in heaven. This prayer, when offered up in any age, has only this one meaning, including of course the performance on earth of whatever contributes to that end.
We have answered the second question, "What did Jesus mean by "Thy will be done?"
He meant, first, that he, the Son of the Father, should prevail to hate his life on earth according to the Great Principle and go to the Father. His statement in prayer,And now I am no more in the world, . . ., and I am coming to thee. (John 17:11)is equivalent to that of the Lost Son when he resolved to go to his father, saying to himself:I will arise and go to my father. . .. (Luke 15:18)It is only thus that anyone can do the Father's will on the earth as it is done in heaven.
Back to the Kingdom and its Coming
I promised above to clarify the meaning of the Kingdom for Jesus. We need first to define a kingdom. Go to your dictionary and you will likely find as one definition that it refers to "the realm or territory where the will of a king is done." With this in mind, we need only apply the definition of the will of the Father presented above to understand what occurred at the death of Jesus that constituted the coming of the kingdom of God to earth.
Before Jesus came, absolutely no one on earth understood what God wanted of human beings, which is that they resolve to come to him. It follows that no one on earth did the Father's will on earth, and so his kingdom did not reign on earth. The coming of the kingdom required that Jesus come to earth, teach the will of the Father, then demonstrate it as the premier performance of the Father's will on the earth. He did that, and the mission was finally concluded at the moment of his death because, prior to that, he was sorely tempted to come down from the cross. But he had said in prayer, "And now, Father, I am coming to you." This corresponds to the lost son's resolve, "I will arise and go to my father."
But Jesus was firm. He did it, and in doing it, did the Father's will on the earth, as it is done in heaven, for the first time. By so doing, the kingdom of God was come because the will of the king was done on the planet. By doing it as a leader and example, he has since lead a continuing train of followers to do the Father's will on the earth as it is done in heaven, while simultaneously complying with the Great Principle. The will of the Father thus continues to be done, and will be done while the race of men endures on the earth. God's kingdom has come, and he rules over all! His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
Back to the Lord's Prayer
Now that we see what was in our Lord's mind and heart when he delivered the Prayer to his disciples, we can draw a disturbing conclusion. This is that the portion of the prayer that consists of the three words, "Thy kingdom come" was finally and fully answered when Jesus died on Calvary. We can enter into our rooms, shut the door and offer the petition, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." knowing that we are asking that we will persevere to follow the Way of the Cross to the end of our lives on earth, wanting only to go to the Father just as the Father in heaven wants us to come to him. This is a good prayer provided we understand what we are asking.
But we cannot pray, "Thy kingdom come. . ." and receive the Lord's favor. To ask the Father for that, today, betrays our great ignorance of what the Lord Jesus did for us long ago. The kingdom is here! It cannot come again!
Nevertheless, provided we pray in secret, in our rooms with the door closed, we harm no one but ourselves by reinforcing a false belief in our own minds that the kingdom has not yet come. If it has come already, why are we asking for it now?
But to offer this petition publicly -- that is a much more serious matter. Indeed, it is a matter of eternal life and death. It testifies, to all who hear, that God's kingdom has not come on earth, which is false, and indicates it is yet to come, which is false, and therefore it is a false prophecy. Those who offer this petition publicly are false prophets!
This is a doubly serious matter because it also constitutes gross disobedience to the Lord and total ignorance of the Father's Prayer Protocol: enter into your room, close the door, and pray in secret. It is the Sunday Morning Worship Hour as I write this and I suddenly realize that millions throughout my time zone, including near neighbors, are at this very moment engaged in this terrible act of gross disobedience to the Lord, and they are claiming to know him and doing it in his name. Some will even have just completed, this very day, the hearing of a Sunday School lesson, or a sermon from the pulpit that highlighted these ominous words of the Apostle, John:And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (I John 2:3-6)
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