In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples find him at prayer and ask him to “teach [them] to pray just as John taught his disciples.” In response, Jesus’ teaches them the prayer we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, although the version contained in Luke’s Gospel is shorter than the Matthean formulation, which is closer to the words of the prayer as we pray them today.
While there is some variant in the petitions in the versions of the prayer as presented by Luke and Matthew, both veresions contain the plea, “Your Kingdom come.” In the words of Mary Lou Redding, the petition asks “that the world be transformed into a place where God reigns, where things are done by God’s standards.”
We know from Isaiah that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways, suggesting that transforming the world to a place where things are done by God’s standards means effecting a fundamental change the world. We also know that God does not expect to do all of the work on his own. The prayer “Your Kingdom come” is not licence to sit back and relax, while we wait for God to transform the world.
We each have a role to play in making God’s kingdom come. Thus, when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” we pray (or ought to be praying) for God to help us discern our role in transforming the world to kingdom and for God’s assistance in carrying out our task.
Note: I offer some further reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, given as part of a Fall Reflection Series I’m giving at UST and at St. Hubert’s, in a podcast which is linked here.