Praying for godly Civil Rulers in the Millennial Age

Good Morning!

The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer is an interesting part of Jesus’ message to His covenant people in regard to their responsibility to the world in which they live. We often hear people say or write that it is wrong to wish for Christ to reign as king over the nations during the time between His first and second advent. That it is trying to “build the kingdom of heaven on earth” to ask for our rulers and presidents to be godly men and our nations to reflect the wisdom and beauty of God’s truth. However, what we read today in the catechism is in fact the Prince of Peace imploring us to pray for this very thing, that the Kingdom Might Come.

For today’s catechism lesson we are going to be looking at some of the things we see as part and parcel of the role of prayer in enabling these blessings to come to pass, even in our own lifetime as the gospel goes forth and does its mighty work in the Great Commission. Here’s the Q/A:

Q. 191. What do we pray for in the second petition?

A. In the second petition, (which is, Thy kingdom come) acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel-officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.

In the New Testament the devil is sometimes describes as the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), and “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). Part of the good news of Jesus Christ is the promise found in Revelation 11:15 that, “And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” When we Christians speak this truth in our repetition of the Lord’s Prayer in the morning worship service we are seeking this reality to be true now. Not that we create it by the act of supplication, but that we recognize that Jesus has already become the one with dominion and power, which is how the Lord’s Prayer ends. (1 John 3:8).

Our hope is that we might see in our own day the humbling of nations.

Notice though what first needs to happen in order for the Kingdom to come. All mankind is currently under, by virtue of Adam’s sin, or as it is described above, by nature, the ruling heart of Satan and his teaching. How do we then see a country as inwardly and outwardly as wicked as ours no long be under the sway of the evil one? The answer in the prayer is that we might see the gospel do its work. The promise of Isaiah 55:6-7 and 11 are apropos here:

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon . . . So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Part of the reason why we don’t see revival in our day is that for too many Christians it just seems far fetched to believe that it can happen. We don’t have it because we don’t pray for it. This petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a reminder that not only can it happen, but it has and will happen in the future. If our earnest desire is to see men and women come to repentance and faith, and we do what we need to do, namely pray and preach the gospel with power then the assurance is given in the words Thy Kingdom Come that we will be the partakers of it. That’s not to say of course that we gin it up or that God needs our help to orchestrate the outpouring of the Spirit. Yet all Reformed and confessional Presbyterians need to remember one of the verses where we need to be poked in our inaction is, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2). From where did James learn such boldness? Well, from his own brother who said, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matt. 21:22). We need not explain away to death what our Lord says there. Everything in the command is contained in the promise. Why can we ask and receive? Because the King of the Kingdom calls us to come near and ask.

To go back a second to the focus of our Larger Catechism on the role of the civil magistrate in this work notice again that the authorities who live at the courthouse are not the dispensers of grace, nor are they expected to force conversion. Godly mayors, governors, presidents and the like merely allow for the liberty of faithful Christian churches to do that work, and encourage by way of their office an environment where the things of the Lord are blessed. There is 1 Tim. 2:2 in action. Some will say that the New Testament never commands nor gives examples of Paul or any other Apostle calling Nero or whomever to account for their sin, yet the tenor and word of the leaders of Christ’s Church is always seeking that all men come to the knowledge of truth and assist the people of God in their vocations, especially Felix, Herod, and other men of position.

In closing, as was helpfully pointed out to me by a friend earlier this week Ezra 6:1-12 is a good example of the kind of thing we are to pray for in the Second Petition as it comes to pass in real life. Be encouraged by the reign of the King of Kings as you pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer, for as Daniel 7:14 reminds us, “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”

Here’s a closing word:

https://reformedcovenanter.wordpress.com/2021/05/25/cyprian-of-carthage-on-thy-kingdom-come

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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