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    The Lord's Prayer

    Thine is the Kingdom (Mt. 6:13)

    by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith (1999)

    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 God.

    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 of all.

    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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