Lord’s Prayer, Part 3 - Praying for the kingdom that keeps on coming, and heavenly bread for the great Tomorrow

Continuing with our study of the Lord’s Prayer from The Forgotten Father, by Thomas Smail – After having taught his disciples to praise the Father in prayer (Luke 11), Jesus then invites them to pray “Your kingdom come.”

We can pray to put ourselves at his disposal so that by his sovereign grace he may continue to “work his kingdom in us, among us and through us.” Smail reminds us, “With the coming of the kingdom we are dealing with the last things, but with the last things that have already overtaken us in the coming of Jesus…”
1. The kingdom has already come with the coming of Jesus—the last days have begun
2. It keeps on coming and make’s it’s presence known as the risen King lives and works among us by the Spirit
3. But like the anticipated return of the King, the final coming of the kingdom is still in the future.
As noted in the post of 10.24.10, there is a Jewish prayer similar to the one Jesus taught. However, with the Father having already sent Jesus in the world, we note the difference.
That the kingdom has [already] come gives the Christian prayer, over against the similar Jewish one, its peculiar confidence, that it keeps on coming gives it its distinctive expectation; that it will come completely as and when God decides, gives it its unique hope. (p. 164)
In discussing how Jesus moves next in the prayer to God’s loving provision for our needs, Smail points to what he considers the “irreversible order” of Christian worship.”
1. Praise centered on God’s name as Father
2. Seeking the kingdom and its righteousness
3. Seeking intercession centered on our needs
Our Father cares for and is eager to be approached about our daily needs. Smail writes,
The phrase epiousious artos, usually rendered daily bread, has caused the commentators a lot of trouble. It can mean bread that is essential….it can also mean bread for tomorrow, and it can also mean bread for the great Tomorrow, heavenly, eschatological bread – “food which God provides is food for body and soul; he gives men what they need and he gives them a rich foretaste of the rich provision available in the kingdom of God” (I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke). [This reminds us of] John 6….[where Jesus] meets the physical hunger of the multitude, offers himself to them as the bread of life which God gives to meet their ultimate hunger….[and reminds us of] the sacrament in which these two kinds of bread become one. (p. 165).
Luke 11 goes on to show those who ask in Christ’s name receive bread from the Father, and in seeking find the Father’s provision for them—in knocking find the door into the Father’s house continually opening before them. The Spirit and his gifts and fruit are through Christ, the bread for the Great Tomorrow. Smail reminds us that our prayers,
do not move in the world of guaranteed techniques and fixed laws, but in the world of personal relationships, where prayers are changed and modified as they are brought before the Father….[who] knows not only how to give what we ask but “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” [Eph. 3:20] (p. 165).
[Note: Page numbers of The Forgotten Father referenced here are from the 1980 edition, Eerdmans Publishing Co. Later printings are available from Wipf and Stock.]

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