What follows is an excerpt of my new book When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer.
Several years ago, while on a trip in order to train pastors in Latin America, I sat in a pastor’s office in one of Ecuador’s largest cities while preparing my heart to preach in thirty minutes’ time. Pastor Jaime offered me coffee and started sharing the history of his church’s building. I was a little confused at first (I don’t normally enjoy hearing anecdotes of foreign real-estate transactions before I preach), but soon Jaime’s story gripped me.
Jaime and his wife Lirio had been grieving the destructive impact that a local nightclub was making on their community: local youth were being led astray, households were being destroyed, and crime rates were increasing. So Jaime and Lirio began to pray for the nightclub to close. They continued to pray for about five years—until one day, by God’s grace, it closed. The building where it had been sat empty for two years.
Meanwhile, God was reaching people through the church that Jaime was pastoring, so the church sent Jaime and his family to plant a new branch of the congregation. But where would it meet? Jaime and his church family prayed for a location that would help him to reach more people with the gospel. And the best option turned out to be the former nightclub that was sitting empty. After discussing the opportunity with the building’s owner and sharing the gospel with him, Jaime bought the building for half the asking price. Now the church meets in the former nightclub—proclaiming the gospel in the community, strengthening families, and reaching youth in the process. Crime in the area even went down. God turned a den of darkness into an embassy for Christ’s kingdom. By praying for the closure of the nightclub and for the gospel to be advanced through their ministry, Jaime and Lirio were praying for God’s kingdom to come.
God is working all throughout human history to build a people for Himself. While even the greatest nations on earth come and go, God’s kingdom is eternal. While earthly nations have fixed borders, God’s kingdom encompasses people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Jesus is building His church, and the gates of hell won’t prevail against it (see Matt. 16:18). That is true whether you’re in Quito, Quebec, or Queensland.
To pray “Your kingdom come” is to express our longing for God’s perfect rule on earth. It is to bow before King Jesus and forsake our personal kingdoms. It is to acknowledge the transience of earthly kingdoms and their true place in history (see Ps. 2; Dan. 2). It is to ask for God to bring salvation to the lost and judgment to His enemies. With these words, we pray that He will cripple the domain of darkness and speed ahead the advance of the kingdom of light. We ask Him to help us to live with His kingdom in mind as we raise our kids and talk to our neighbors.
Praying “Your kingdom come” also helps us to look ahead to the ultimate ushering in of His kingdom—one that is closer to you than when you first started reading this chapter—when “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man” and when “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Rev. 21:3–4). Come, Lord Jesus!