Our Saviour taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come” and while that petition is certainly short, it is not as simple as many suppose.
James Fisher, Ebenezer Erskine, and Ralph Erskine explain what that petition means (and how we should pray according to it) in the following except from their exposition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (published in 1753).
Their explanation is organized in a question-and-answer format and we hope it enables you to pray more fervently today.
Q. What do we pray for with reference to the kingdom of grace, when we say, Thy kingdom come?
A. We do not pray that it may be erected as a new thing in the world, but that it may be advanced in it.
Q. Why should we not pray, that Christ’s kingdom of grace may be erected or set up as a new thing in the world?
A. Because this would be, in effect, to deny that Christ had ever a church upon this earth; whereas, it is most certain, that ever since the first promise, he has always had a church in it, and will have it to the end of time, Isa. 59:21.
Q. But is it not our duty to pray, that the kingdom of grace may be set up in those parts of the world where it is not at present?
A. To be sure it is; for we should pray,” That the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified,” 2 Thess. 3:1; and that the earth may “be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea,” Isa. 11:9; which is the same with praying, “That the kingdom of grace may be advanced.”
Q. For what should we pray as pre-requisite to the advancing of the kingdom of grace?
A. In order to this, we should pray, That Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed.
Q. What is the meaning of the name SATAN?
A. It is a Hebrew word, signifying an adversary; as, indeed, the devil is an implacable adversary, burning with hatred and enmity both against God, and therefore called “his enemy,” Matt, 13:25, and against man, 1 Pet. 5:8 — “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Q. What do you understand by Satan’s kingdom?
Q. If sinners of mankind are by nature lawful captives, how can Satan’s dominion over them be said to be usurped?
A. Though they be justly delivered into his hands, as a jailer, yet he has no right to rule over them as a prince.
Q. Do they not voluntarily subject themselves to his dominion?
A. Yes; and this is both their sin and their judgment John 8:44.
Q. What is the principal seat of Satan’s kingdom?
A. The HEART of every man and woman by nature, Eph. 2:2.
Q. What is the foundation and bulwark of this kingdom?
A. SIN, both original and actual, Eph. 2:3.
Q. For what should we pray, with reference to this kingdom of Satan?
A. That it may be destroyed.
Q. Why should, we pray for the destruction of this kingdom?
Q. How then is Satan’s kingdom destroyed in the world?
A. By the advancement of the kingdom of grace in it.
Q. When may the kingdom of grace be said to be advanced?
A. When ourselves and others are brought into it, and kept in it.
Q. How are we and others brought into this kingdom?
Q. How are we and others kept in it?
A. By continued emanations of grace out of the fulness of Christ, by which the principle of grace is quickened, strengthened, and preserved, Hos. 14:5.
Q. For what should we pray, as the means of bringing into this kingdom?
A. We should pray, “that the gospel may be propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins.”
Q. For what should we pray as means of being kept in it?
A. That the same ordinances may be effectual to the “confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted.”
Q. Can any subject of this kingdom ever apostatize from it?
A. No; they are “kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation,” 1 Pet. 1:5.
Q. Why then should we pray to be kept in it?
A. Because perseverance, being a promised privilege, should, on that account, be prayed for, Psalm 119:28 — “Strengthen thou me, according to thy word.”
Q. What security have the saints that they shall be kept in this kingdom?
A. They have the stability of the promise, Jer. 32:40; the efficacy of Christ’s obedience to the death in their stead, Eph. 5:25, 27; the prevalency of his intercession, John 17:24; and the inhabitation of his Spirit, Rom. 8:11, for their security in this matter.
Q. What is the kingdom of glory?
Q. In what will the glory of this kingdom consist?
A. In a perfect conformity to, and the immediate and uninterrupted vision and fruition of God through all eternity, 1 John 3:2.
Q. When will the kingdom of glory come in the full manifestation of it?
Q. For what are we to pray, with reference to this kingdom?
A. That it may be hastened.
Q. When we pray that it may be hastened, do we mean, that the set time for the second coming of Christ may be anticipated, or come sooner than the moment fixed for it in infinite wisdom?
A. No; we wish it no sooner; but only express our ardent “desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” than to be here always, Phil. 1:23.
Q. Why do the saints so earnestly desire to be with Christ in glory?
A. That an eternal period may be put to all their sinning, and to every thing that has a tendency to detract from the glory of his kingdom, and the happiness of his subjects: wherefore, as he saith, “Surely, I come quickly;” so they pray, “Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus,” Rev. 22:20.