Kings & Kingdoms
Are you one of the many obsessed with the Royal Family? I’m not into them, yet my newsfeed is filled with whatever Harry and Meghan are doing. I don’t really care what they do. There is one royal I do follow: Tiger King.
(You thought I would say, Jesus, didn’t you?)
Tiger King is the tale of Joe Exotic. I’m sure you all know who I’m talking about. This is a core memory for anyone living in the United States and the 2020 pandemic shutdowns! What did you do in 2020? We stayed home, watched Tiger King, and got emotionally invested. We all had opinions about it.
Tiger King and the Royal Family are stories of kings and kingdoms that capture and hold our attention. Let’s talk about Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus is a king of a different kind of Kingdom. He is the king of a Kingdom overflowing with goodness and perfect peace. It’s the only Kingdom story that will not end in tragedy.
The Kingdom of God
Today, we are finishing our series Pray Like This… I hope you took a step and pray more than you did before our study. Even when we pray for someone, and they’re not healed, or when we pray for ourselves and don’t get the promotion, or when we worship and don’t feel God’s presence, whatever it might be, something still happens. I want to assure you of that.
“Prayer may not change your circumstances, but it always changes you.” – Craig Groeschel
We gave you practical tools in the last five weeks. Still, we should not forget that prayer is ultimately about connecting with God and having fellowship with him regularly. As we pray, we become changed. The disciples saw this happen when they saw Jesus pray. It wasn’t just miracles and healing and peace. They saw something different about Jesus and wanted to be more like him. When following Jesus and picking up all of his habits, the one practice that they wanted to learn was how to pray like him. Jesus responded to his disciples by teaching them a prayer Christians have been reciting and using as a model prayer ever since.
One of my goals for this series was that you walked away with a greater understanding of how to pray. I didn’t want to give you theories of prayer. I planned for our time to be practical.
You might have noticed we ended the Lord’s Prayer last week. Others might have seen an asterisk at the end of verse 13. You go-getters who noticed went to the bottom of your Bibles to find out what it meant. And at the bottom of your Bibles, most say something like, “Late manuscripts add ‘For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'”
I’m bringing this up because this part of the prayer did not appear in Matthew’s earliest manuscripts. It’s a footnote today. Translators of the Bibles we use are trying to be transparent and let us know only the later copies include this line. Is there a reason to panic? Take a breath; everything we’ve learned thus far is still valid. It’s not a pin in a theological grenade.
This part of the prayer is about surrender. It’s about wholly submitting to the Kingdom of God, to the power of God, and to God’s glory. Praying this line in the prayer, what shows up as a footnote in many cases, is an opportunity to express to God we are giving him everything we have to offer.
For Yours Is The Kingdom, Power, & Glory
We all have kingdoms. You have a kingdom. I have a kingdom. We are the king and queen of our sphere. You may not feel like you have a kingdom, but you most certainly do. It could be your house. It could be stuff that you’ve collected over the years. You may have so much stuff in boxes, and your kingdom is spread out over storage units. I have a riding lawnmower, a small house, and three small peasants I’m quite fond of. When we pray, yours is the Kingdom, we make a choice to live for God’s Kingdom.
We all have power. You might not think of yourself as powerful, but we all have the power to choose. We can choose love and hate. Our power is limited, but God’s power is unlimited. We must learn to trust and submit to God’s power first, not our own.
In the biblical sense, glory is about greatness and significance in the eyes of others. In this way, we all have a little bit of glory, even if it’s just your cat or dog who thinks you are a significant person because every day you keep them alive by feeding them. The quest for glory will eventually leave you feeling empty. You’ll spend your whole life trying to live up to something and still won’t get there, but giving God the glory is forever rewarding.
All this brings us to the last word of the prayer. “Amen” is the word we typically use to end a prayer, but it’s much more than a nice ending. It literally means: “Yes, I agree!” It’s an empathetic way of voicing agreement. When we’re praying for someone or something and declare amen, we’re signing off with emphasis. There’s power in amen. Let’s continue to take steps closer to God through prayer. Amen is not the end. It is just the beginning.
Jesus’s Kingdom is forever established in victory. His Kingdom is not one of domination and propaganda, and its path differs from the typical path. It’s a journey that simultaneously shatters our instincts and expectations while resonating with our core. It seems totally foreign but strangely familiar.
It’s the road back home.