As the years have passed into centuries, and the centuries into millennia, the words of our Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” have mounted up into literally billions of petitions which have come before God.

Have they fallen on deaf ears?

Will God ever answer …

The Lord’s Prayer

IN response to the disciples’ request, “Lord, teach us to pray,” Jesus gave them what is now familiarly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” In this model prayer we are given a guide as to just what we may pray for with assurance that our requests will be granted. But important also is the fact that in this brief outline of prayer, Jesus indicated the proper method of approach to God—“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”—Luke 11:1,2

As the children of God, we will desire above all else to honor the name of our Father, so both by word and by action our attitude should always be, “Hallowed be thy name.” To properly hallow our Heavenly Father’s name implies that when we approach him in prayer we will do so in the manner outlined for us in the Scriptures by Jesus. He explained that our prayers should be offered in his name.—John 15:16

There is a reason for this. As members of the fallen and justly condemned race, we could actually have no standing at the divine throne of grace except through Jesus, our Advocate; but in his name, and through the merit of the shed blood, we are privileged to go “boldly” to the throne of grace to seek forgiveness, and all the other blessings which our loving Heavenly Father has promised to give. (Heb. 4:16) If we properly hallow his name we will never presume to approach him except through Jesus.

When we follow the example of the Lord’s Prayer, our requests will not be so much on our own behalf as they will be for the blessing of others. This is indicated in the opening petition, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) “Thy kingdom come”—the answer to this request will be an answer to much for which people have prayed throughout the centuries. That answer will satisfy the legitimate desires of all people. It will mean peace, and health, and everlasting life for all who conform themselves to the righteous laws of the Lord’s kingdom.

The blessings which the human race craves, and for which millions pray, were all anticipated by God and provided for through the kingdom which he has promised by all his prophets. In these promises we find many details of the blessings which it will guarantee to the people, including the restoration of those who have died. No, God has not been unmindful of the suffering of the people, nor has he turned a deaf ear to their cries for help; and his answer to their prayers, when in his due time it comes, will be far beyond anything that they have ever dared to hope.

Take the case of parents who prayed for the safety of their boy on the battlefield. They love that boy, and nothing could mean more to them than his safe return to the family home. But he does not return, and their first thought may be that God doesn’t care, that he has no pity. How differently they would feel if they could believe that God has provided a homecoming far more satisfactory than ever entered their minds when they prayed!

How little parents sometimes know of the hardship and suffering their boy may have been saved by falling asleep in death. After all, both the parents and the boy are members of a dying race, and the difference between dying on the battlefield and dying a few years later of old age is only a momentary one when compared with the endless stretch of eternity. And it is from this standpoint that we must learn to view the subject of prayer and the manner in which God answers our petitions.

The very fact that we pray to God is acknowledgement of our belief that his wisdom and power and love far exceed our own, yet we often forget this, and feel that he has not honored our prayers because he has not answered them as we would have, through the exercise of our own puny abilities. The length of our condemned life is very short. We judge accomplishments upon the basis of whether or not they reach maturity within this short time of which we have knowledge. But we should not judge God’s works from this standpoint.

The Scriptures speak of God as being “from everlasting to everlasting.” (Ps. 41:13; 90:2) He is under no necessity to complete any particular phase of his plan within our short lifetime, not even if it has to do with our individual requests. If we prayed to God today for some special blessings which would be in keeping with his will, and the answer did not come until tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow, we would not lose faith in him, but would rejoice when the answer did come. Well, God has his “tomorrows” also. His days are not measured by hours, for they are ages, and in his “tomorrow” age, the thousand-year period of Christ’s kingdom, all those blessings, which the world has legitimately craved, and for which millions have voiced requests to God, will be abundantly showered upon humanity. In recognition of this, the people will then respond, saying, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, … we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”—Isa. 25:9

“As It Is in Heaven”

We have already learned that God will answer no prayer which is not in harmony with his will, not in keeping with that which he has already promised to do. Let us note that in the greatest of all prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, this principle is clearly set forth. It requests God for blessings upon the people of earth—not any sort of supposedly good things which they may crave, but things which are in harmony with his will—“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

What great latitude he has given us in connection with the things which are in harmony with his will! God’s will is done in heaven, and it is his purpose that to the same degree it shall be done in earth. We do not know, of course, all the ways in which God’s will is done in heaven, but we can be sure that the evils which now exist on earth do not plague the lives of those in the spirit realm we call heaven.

There is no war in heaven. War is an evil which is not in harmony with the divine will. Should we, then, pray for peace? Certainly! Indeed, we could not pray for God’s will to be done in earth as it is in heaven without praying for peace. But our prayers for peace should be in keeping with God’s plan to establish peace, and that is his kingdom plan. He has promised to set up a kingdom, to establish a government. Jesus will the king, the ruler, in the government. “The government shall be upon his shoulder,” wrote Isaiah, and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:6,7

Doubtless God looks with sympathy upon the yearnings of mankind that war be abolished in the earth. When international tension is at a high pitch, and war seems inevitable, devout people on both sides feel compelled to pray for peace. The differences which threaten to precipitate war may be resolved, or they may not be, but we know that ultimately there shall be peace—universal and lasting peace! And this, not because the nations have at last found a workable formula for peace, but because The Prince of Peace has taken over the rulership of earth and the prayers of God’s people, “Thy kingdom come,” have been answered.

How many God-fearing people there are in the world today who would like to see the nations disarm! The nations themselves dare not disarm, for they have no assurance that aggressors would not take advantage of the situation and seek to impose a tyrannical dictatorship over the world. Nevertheless, many prayers ascend to God that a way may be shown the nations to cease preparing themselves for war. These prayers also will eventually be answered with the framework of the divine government plan.

Christ’s government is symbolized in the Scriptures as the “mountain of the Lord,” and in Micah 4:1-4 we read that the time will come when the people will say, “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth from Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”

What a wonderful program for disarmament! It is God’s program, and when we pray for peace, and for the nations to disarm, let us do so with the assurance that God will hear, and that he will answer our prayers in harmony with his will, which will be the kingdom way. And we may have this assurance, for the Prophet David wrote that it is God’s intention to make wars to cease unto the end of the earth, to break the battle bow in sunder, and to destroy the chariots—now the tanks—of war.—Ps. 46:9

“No More Death”

There is no death in heaven. Sickness and death have insulted from the sin of our first parents, and are among the evils which God has promised to destroy. Shall we, then, pray for health, and ask the Lord to save the lives of those near and dear to us who may have been stricken with serious illness? Yes, but always with the understanding that we want the Lord’s will to be done, and with the knowledge that it may not be his will to grant health and life to those for whom we pray until these blessings are made available for all during the thousand years of Christ’s kingdom.

And we know that all diseases will then be cured. “The inhabitant [in that day] shall not say, I am sick,” wrote Isaiah. (Isa. 33:24) Describing some of the blessings of Christ’s kingdom, Paul wrote that Christ will reign until all enemies are put under his feet, and that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Cor. 15:25,26) When, in vision, the Apostle John saw the kingdom of God established on the earth, he discerned that as a result there would be no more death, “neither shall there be any more pain.”—Rev. 21:4

When, therefore, we pray for health and life, let us endeavor to grasp the meaning of this larger provision the Creator has made to grant these blessings, not merely to us and to our loved ones, but to all mankind; that is, to all who will seek them through humility and obedience during the thousand years of Christ’s reign. And how much better that will be for all concerned! Selfish indeed is the satisfaction which may result from blessings we enjoy while they are denied to others. How much better it is to pray that God will heal all the sick, and keep all the people from dying, and thus we do when we pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:10

“From the Land of the Enemy”

God’s ways, and the provisions he has made for his creatures, are always much better and more far-reaching than those conceived by human wisdom. We pray for health; we pray for protection; we pray for peace. But who has ever thought of praying that their beloved dead be restored to them? None! But God, in his plan, has gone beyond what we have presumed to pray for. He has promised to bring back the dead!

How many mothers have been heartbroken over the loss of a precious little one? One of these is referred to by the Prophet Jeremiah. Her name was Rachel. Jeremiah wrote, “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted.” The Prophet continues, “Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.”—Jer. 31:15,16

“They shall come again from the land of the enemy.” Death is man’s greatest enemy, and it is God’s plan to restore to life all who are in the ‘land’ of death. This great favor to man, then, is also included in our petition, “Thy kingdom come,” for it will be during the thousand years of Christ’s kingdom that all who are in their graves, in the condition of death, shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth.—John 5:28,29

The restoration of man to life is described by the Apostle Peter as ‘restitution’, and he tells us that following the second coming of Christ there shall be “times of restitution of all things,” and adds that this has been promised by all God’s holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21) Surely that which God has caused all his holy prophets to promise is altogether in harmony with his will—a very definite part of his provision for the eternal blessing of all his human creatures who were condemned to death through Adam, but redeemed from death by Jesus.

Under Vine and Fig Tree

Many pray for wealth, or at least for economic security. There is a measure of fear, or uncertainty, on the part of nearly everybody as they face their declining years. Will we be financially secure when we reach the age when it is no longer possible for us to earn a living? It is quite understandable that anyone who believes in God and thinks of him as one who loves and cares, should look to him in prayer in connection with his need of financial security.

We know, of course, that there are millions of people in the world today, and this has been true throughout the ages, who are not financially secure. There are millions who are literally starving, and without proper food, clothing, and shelter. God loves all these, and while we would appreciate it if he blessed us with a more favorable situation in life, is it not better to rejoice in the loving provision he has made to care for all the poor and needy in his own due time and way? And this is what he has promised to do!

In the prophecy of Isaiah, a similar assurance is given us concerning God’s blessings for the world in the age to come. This prophet of God tells us that at that time they shall not build houses for others to inhabit, and that they will not plant and another eat, but that the people then—those who through the acceptance of Christ and obedience to his kingdom become God’s people—shall long enjoy the works of their hands. Yes, they shall enjoy the fruit of their labor forever if they continue to obey the righteous laws of that kingdom which then will be ruling the world. See Isaiah 65:20-25.

In this chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, it is indicated that the blessings of God which in that kingdom age will become available to all, will be poured out upon the people in answer to their prayers. Concerning this the Lord says, “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (vs. 24) This has not been the experience of the vast majority of those who heretofore prayed earnestly to God for help, not because he has lacked interest in them, but because his time had not come to extend the favors for which they have asked, and because in his wisdom he has known that their experiences with adversity will enable them the more to appreciate the blessings he will provide for them throughout the eternal years.

But when the kingdom for which we pray is established and functioning, how different it will be. Many of the blessings for which the dying race has longed will then become available even before they think of praying for them. “Before they call, I will answer,” declares the Lord, and when they do learn to ask him for his bounties, the answers to their prayers will be so real and so immediate that it will seem as though they came before the petitioner had finished his prayer—“While they are yet speaking, I will hear!”

“Our Daily Bread”

In the answer to the prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” are included the many material blessings for which devout people of the world customarily pray, but so often fail to receive. How we should rejoice that the time is coming in the divine plan when these legitimate material blessings will begin to flow to all the families of the earth in harmony with the promise made to Abraham! (Gen. 12:1-3) Meanwhile, it is well to consider the manner in which God answers the prayers of his people now, the prayers of those who address him as, “Our Father which art in heaven.”

These have continued to pray for God’s kingdom to come, and in thus praying have known that the kingdom will be God’s channel of blessing to all mankind. But at the same time they have had the privilege of petitioning God for their own immediate daily needs, since Jesus taught them to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

This is a very moderate request, and when made in the proper spirit, is acknowledgment that the Lord knows best what our daily needs may be, and that we will be satisfied with whatever provision he considers wise to make. Besides, for those who are walking in the sacrificial footsteps of Jesus, it is important to recognize that our spiritual needs are more important by far than the material. Bread is used in the Scriptures to symbolize truth, the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the Word, the truth of the divine plan. God has promised to feed us abundantly with this Bread of Life, so we can pray thus with full assurance, knowing that our petitions are primarily for the spiritual food which he has promised, and therefore in harmony with his will.

“As We Forgive”

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This portion of the Lord’s Prayer can be uttered sincerely only by those whose hearts are filled with the same spirit of love which prompted our Heavenly Father to send his Son into the world to be the redeemer and savior. This was a love which made a provision for the forgiveness of sinners, those who had trespassed against God by disobeying his laws. He is willing to forgive us, but only on the condition that we are in the proper heart attitude toward those who have sinned against us. Certainly this is a heart-searching test of our sincerity in prayer.

“Deliver Us from Evil”

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The first temptation mentioned in the Bible was that of mother Eve. She was tempted by the fallen Lucifer, through the serpent, to disobey the law of God. The transgression of God’s law the Scriptures designate as sin, and the word temptation is used to describe any effort, allurement, or enticement to sin. The Devil is the greatest of all tempters, and he uses many and various agencies by which to present his sinful appeals to those he endeavors to lure away from God and into the paths of unrighteousness.

“God tempteth no man,” wrote James. (James 1:13) This means that we can depend upon it that God will not lead us into temptation; so in our prayers we claim this assurance. We do not pray for the kingdom because we have any misgiving as to whether or not it will come; nor do we pray, “Lead us not into temptation” because we are fearful that God may assume the role of the fallen Lucifer and seek to entice us into paths of unrighteousness. No, God will not do this, and we know it, so we express our confidence in his integrity by acknowledging this assurance that he tempteth no man.

And how hope-inspiring is the contrast to this—“Deliver us from evil.” The Devil, the arch-deceiver, has throughout the centuries been exerting his influence upon all mankind in an effort to alienate them from their Creator and God. The result has been tragic—a world largely controlled by sin and selfishness—“this present evil world.” (Gal. 1:4) But God has promised deliverance from “the snare of the fowler,” and from the evil which the fowler has engendered in the world.—Ps. 91:3

God’s promises of deliverance are of personal concern to all who are following in the footsteps of Jesus, for they assure such that Satan will not be able to ensnare nor entrap them. As individuals, God delivers us daily from Satan’s pitfalls of error and sin. “The angel of the Lord,” wrote the psalmist, “encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” (Ps. 34:7) What a reassuring promise, and how glad we are to claim it as our own when we pray, “Deliver us from evil.”

But there is still larger deliverance for the people of God, a deliverance of the entire church of Christ in the “first resurrection” to live and reign with Christ. (Rev. 20:4,6) Jesus said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church, and in fulfillment of this promise, the gates of hell—the death condition—will be opened wide, and all who have suffered and died with Christ will be released from death, and will be exalted to glory to reign with him throughout the thousand years of his kingdom.

For this glorious deliverance the church has waited throughout all the centuries of this present Gospel Age. The true disciples of Christ have known that this deliverance would not come until he returned. Paul knew this and wrote that a crown of righteousness had been laid up for him and that he would receive it at “that day,” and added that all who love Christ’s appearing would likewise then receive a “crown.”—II Tim. 4:8

In Jesus’ great prophecy concerning this end of the age—the prophecy in which he identifies so many of the conditions in the world today—he said to his disciples, “When ye see these things”—and his disciples living now are seeing them—“then look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption [Greek, deliverance] draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:31,28) The fact that “these things” foretold by the Master signaling the near approach of deliverance from this present evil world, are now clearly discernible in the daily parade of news, gives us confidence that soon, very soon, the blessings of his long-promised and much-prayed for kingdom will begin to flow out to a suffering and dying humanity.

So we pray, “Deliver us from evil,” not alone because we are longing to be free from a world that is evil, but also because we know that the answer to this petition—an answer which the Lord has promised—will mean, also, the answer to our other petition: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Thus viewed, even that part of a Christian’s prayer which means most to him is at the same time unselfish in outlook, for it also contemplates rich blessings soon to come to all mankind.

And such are the prayers with which God is pleased; that is, unselfish prayers. While God is pleased when his people seek individual guidance, forgiveness, and spiritual strength from him, he also wants them to be interested in all whom he loves, and this, of course, is the entire world of mankind. And we show our interest in his plan for blessing the people when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” for it will be through the agencies of that kingdom that he will provide a “feast of fat things for all people”; and it will be in that kingdom that death will be swallowed up in victory, and tears wiped from off all faces.—Isa. 25:6-8; Rev. 21:1-5

Above all, let us continually thank God that his love made provision for the eternal joy of all. Let us not only praise him individually in our prayers, but also tell the whole world about his love—tell them that through Christ provision has been made for them to live, and soon his kingdom will provide peace and health, and everlasting life for all—peace through the Prince of Peace, and health and life through the one divine love provided to be the redeemer and savior of the world.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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