If you’re a human being, you’ve asked the question. Maybe you’ve looked in the mirror at the end of the day and seen past your face into your soul. You’ve wondered how you could have done or thought what you did that day. You are starkly aware that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be.
Maybe you’ve watched your friends or coworkers. You’ve listened to their struggles and wonder why their lives have to be so hard. For some, you wonder why they have to make it so hard. But you know the answer. Things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be.
Or maybe you just read the newspaper. Whether it’s another concert bombing on the other side of the world or a shooting at another school, you’ve asked the question. Deep inside you know. Things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be.
That’s why Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” How do we pray “…your kingdom come?” We begin by praying that God’s kingdom come in our own lives. We pray about our own desire to set up our own kingdoms that we rule instead of letting God rule. We pray for our marriages, that God may rule there. We pray for our children, that they learn to seek first the kingdom of God.
We pray about places where God’s kingdom is not. Do you know any marriages where if God’s reign came, things would be better? Then pray for marriages. Do you know any people in your neighborhood whose lives would change for the better if God’s reign came to them? Then pray for your neighbors. Once you begin to see with kingdom eyes and pray with a kingdom heart, you will have an endless prayer list of where God would want his kingdom to come.
Do you see hunger? Injustice? Slavery? These are places where his kingdom has not come fully. And once he starts to show you where things here are not as they are in heaven, pray that God bring heaven here. One way he will answer that prayer will be by moving you and me to act on this earth as people in whom his heavenly kingdom reigns.
The Christian monk Telemachus did. Telemachus had lived a life of service to God when he found himself finally making a visit to the great capitol city of Rome. He heard cheers and followed them to the Coliseum where he sat down to watch what was happening there. What he saw shocked him. Out on the floor of the Coliseum he saw gigantic gladiators torturing and slaughtering defenseless slaves by the score.
The crowd watched and cheered. But Telemachus did not. He stood up from his seat and cried out, “No! Stop!” The people around him were taken aback by his actions. One pulled him back down to his seat. The games on the floor of the Coliseum continued and so did Telemachus. He stood up again and shouted, “No! This is wrong!” This time the crowd ridiculed him, yelling at him to sit down.
But he did not sit. Instead, he made his way down the steps to the edge of the arena. He climbed over the wall and dropped down to the floor of the arena.
Then he ran and placed himself between a fallen slave and a gladiator who was about to finish him off. Telemachus looked up at the gladiator and said, “God says, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ I say in the name of Jesus, stop what you are doing!”
He caught the gladiator off guard. For a moment he paused, amazed at this unusual action. And then, urged on by the crowd, he brought his mace down on Telemachus, ending his earthly life.
For a moment the Coliseum was silent. The crowd struggled to comprehend what they had just witnessed. Then, from the top of the stadium, someone stood up and walked out of the arena. From another section a family made their way out of the entryway. Next an entire section. Then the rest. Not long after the Emperor put an end to the games for good.
That is what God can do with one life willing to pray “Let your kingdom come” and act as if it had. If things aren’t as they should be—and they aren’t—this is the prayer that will bring heaven here.
Question: What areas do you see in your life where heaven needs to be brought to earth?