The Lord's Prayer
Thine is the Kingdom (Mt. 6:13)
by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith
The last words of the Lord's prayer are not included in some of the
important manuscripts of the New Testament and many scholars think that
they are a later insertion. It seems to me that the witness of the majority
of the manuscripts together with secondary evidence from early translations
and comments by Church fathers suggests more strongly that these words
are part of the original text. At any rate, the words function as an
appropriate end to the prayer and certainly express the Biblical view
of God's kingdom found in passages like 1 Chronicles 29:11: "Thine,
O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory,
and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine;
thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."
The final words of the prayer have a threefold function. First, these
words are a confession of our faith. As we have emphasized, the Lord's
prayer is a kingdom prayer. The first three petitions of the Lord's
prayer are essentially one petition for the kingdom of God to truly
come in history. It is only when we do God's will that we will see the
realization of His kingdom and the glorification of His name.
The three petitions for our daily bread, the forgiveness of our sins,
and power to defeat Satan are offered in view of the kingdom of God.
Without food, forgiveness, and strength to fight, we cannot do the work
of building God's kingdom. Those are the bare necessities.
When we conclude the prayer by confessing that the kingdom belongs
to God, that we are certain of His power and glory, we conclude with
words that express our faith in His work to accomplish the kingdom.
We trust that His kingdom will come in His good time for the sake of
His glory. We believe that He will make it come to pass. The confession
of faith in the kingdom is important. It must be an intelligent confession
of what we really believe that God is doing in this world.
It is possible to make this confession from any eschatological position.
An amillennialist or a premillennialist may pray the Lord's prayer and
confess that God rules His kingdom with power. But when they pray "Thy
kingdom come," they are seeking the end of history. When they ask
for daily bread, they pray for nourishment to sustain them until Jesus
comes. The confession at the end of the prayer is a confession that
someday God will conclude history in Jesus' favor.
Now, of course, postmillennialists also believe that God will conclude
history to the glory of Christ. But we are praying the Lord's prayer
with a different meaning than a premillennialist or an amillennialist.
We pray that God would enable us to do His will with the "humility,
cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy"
of the angels in heaven, so that we can see the Gospel "propagated
throughout all the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles
brought in" (excerpts from Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions
192, 191). If we are seeking for God to work in us for the building
of His kingdom, the meaning of this confession at the end of the prayer
is very different. We are confessing our faith that He will indeed work
in us, unworthy instruments as we are, for the glory of His name and
the progress of His kingdom.
Confession as Argument
In a prayer, a confession of faith is also a plea. When we confess
to God that we trust Him for something, we are also in effect asking
Him to accept our faith and respond to it. In this case, the final words
that we confess may be added as a sort of argument for each of the petitions
in the prayer. It is as if we prayed: "Hallowed be Thy name because
thine is the kingdom, and the glory and the power for ever and ever.
Thy will be done for Thine is the kingdom and Thou has the power to
bring it to pass. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our sins,
and enable us to defeat Satan, for the glory of this kingdom warfare
belongs to Thee and only by Thy power can the kingdom vision be realized."
Argument in prayer is typical of Biblical praying and appears often
in the Psalms. A model of argument in prayer, theologically similar
to the Lord's prayer, is found in Daniel 9. Daniel "understood
by the books" that the time for the end of the captivity had drawn
near. Daniel based his prayer on the covenant promise of God and his
certainty of its realization. He confessed his faith in God as the covenant-keeping
God (vs. 4) and appealed not to the righteousness of Israel, for she
had sinned against God grievously (vs. 5-15), but to God's promise and
His own name: "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and
do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people
are called by thy name" (9:19). The appeal of the Lord's prayer
is very much the same for we have the promise of His kingdom as the
basis for our prayer (cf. Mt. 16:18). When we ask Him to bring in His
kingdom, we remind Him that it is for His own sake; it is His kingdom
and glory that we seek, nothing of our own.
Only when our confession of faith is clear can it be an appeal to God
for action. Only when our confession of faith is sincere will it provoke
us to appeal to Him to show His power and glory through the Gospel.
To seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33) means
first of all that we seek it in our prayers. When we are praying the
Lord's prayer rightly, our whole lives will be conformed to these petitions
and we will become more and more clearly focused on the kingdom. Our
family life, our work, our relationships with other people will all
be oriented toward one single all encompassing goal, the kingdom of
Confession as Praise
The final words of the Lord's prayer are also words of praise. To confess
our faith in His kingdom, power, and glory is also to praise Him for
His kingdom, power, and glory. Praise and confession are inseparable.
Ending the prayer with words of praise that express our confidence in
Him is also a way of casting ourselves upon Him for the accomplishment
On the one hand, the Lord's prayer teaches us to seek more earnestly
God's kingdom, but on the other hand, it also reminds us that the kingdom
is His. He will bring it to pass by the power that only He possesses.
It is His glory that is at stake, and He will not let His name be tarnished.
For us to praise Him for His power and glory, then, is also for us to
rest in Him for the fulfillment of the kingdom.
To praise Him and rest in Him means that we are enjoying Him. When
we repeatedly pray, "Thine is the kingdom and the power and glory
for ever and ever," we learn to relish the fact that He is in charge.
His mysterious plan is perfect and guides all things toward His kingdom
and glory. His power rules over all. The Lord's prayer nourishes a heart
of praise like David's:
O God, my heart is fixed;
I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
Awake, psaltery and harp:
I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people:
and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
For thy mercy is great above the heavens:
and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. (Ps. 108:1-4)
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