The prayer Jesus taught us to pray says famously, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done”. By our prayers we can be part of God building His Kingdom – seeing God’s people, in God’s place, enjoying God’s blessing and rule.
While this will only be complete when Jesus returns, His kingdom is also here and now, and grows as people give their lives to Jesus, and live in a way that honours him.
For Nehemiah the Kingdom of God was in tatters. His people were scattered, God’s place was vulnerable and His blessing not experienced. The focus of the kingdom at that time was the temple and Jerusalem, and news had come that the city walls were broken down. In Nehemiah chapter 1, God moved him to pray for God’s kingdom to come, to see the walls rebuilt.
Jesus’ focus for the kingdom is building His church all over the world, but the same principles of Nehemiah’s prayer can apply to us today. We too can pray like Kingdom Builders. Here are 5 characteristics of praying “Your kingdom come” that I believe God is calling us to make our own.
1. Personal – Nehemiah 1:4a
As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days.
When we see challenges or vulnerabilities to the church's mission, both locally and world-wide we can sometimes feel disconnected and un-moved. But when we pray about it, we make the problem personal. Pray until you are moved. Pray until it becomes a burden rather than just a prayer point. This will help you connect with what God is doing in the local church and around the world.
2. Persistent – Nehemiah 1:4b
...and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah persisted in prayer, fasting and praying. Bill Hybels said “when we work we work, but when we pray God works”. God’s work is more effective than ours! Persisting in prayer is a way of showing God “we need you to do what only you can do”. We pray to “the God of heaven” who is above all things and loves us deeply. Don’t give up!
3. Penitent – Nehemiah 1:7
We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.
Jesus taught us to pray asking for God’s forgiveness, and commanding us to forgive others. In a society that demands its rights, God calls us to humble ourselves. Answer to prayer comes, not because we demand or deserve them, but because God is gracious. Every answer to prayer is a gift, not a reward. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). We do not plead for our rights, but remember that God is God and we are not.
4. Promised – Nehemiah 1:8-9
Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there'.
Nehemiah reminds God of His promises – not because he thinks God has forgotten, but because this is the basis for his request! Having bowed down and humbled himself, he now stands upon the one thing he can stand on – God’s unfailing promises. When prayer is based on God’s promises, we can have full confidence that not only God wants to do what we ask, but that He will! His agenda will succeed, we just need to join in what He wants to do!
5. Pro-active – Nehemiah 1:11
'O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man'. Now I was cupbearer to the king.
As the narrative continues we read of how Nehemiah uses his position as cupbearer to the king to have an influence for God’s kingdom. Having prayed, trusting that it is God’s work that is most effective, he also does what he can do – “give me success to your servant today”. As he gave the situation to God, he gave himself to God.
You might not be cupbearer to the king, but God has given you opportunity to make a difference, in your work, college, street, friendships, family. When you pray about an issue, ask God “Is there anything I can do?”. This will open the door for you to see God work first hand!
I pray that this year we will all see God’s kingdom come, personally.