THE SECOND PETITION.
Thy kingdom come.
As we have prayed in the first petition,– which refers to the honor and glory of God's name,– that God would prevent the world from covering its falsehoods and malicious acts under the pretext of his name, and that we may hold it holy and sacred both in doctrine and in life, that we may praise and extol it; so we pray here that his kingdom also should come. But even as God's name is holy in itself, and we yet pray that it be hallowed among us; so, also his kingdom comes of itself, without our prayer; yet we pray, however, that it may come to us; that is, that it may prevail among and with us, so that we may also be a portion of those, among whom his name is sanctified, and among whom his kingdom flourishes.
What, then, is the kingdom of God? Reply:– Nothing else but, as we have heard in the foregoing Creed, that God sent his Son, Christ our Lord, into the world, that he might redeem and liberate us from the power of the devil, and bring us to himself, and rule us, as a king of righteousness, life, and glory, defending us from sin, death, and an unholy conscience. To this effect he has also give us his Holy Spirit, to confer these things upon us through his holy Word, and to illumine and strengthen us in faith, through his power. For this reason, we pray here in the first place, that what Christ has obtained for us, may be efficient among us, and that his name be praised, through the Word of God and a Christian life; that we, who have embraced that name, may adhere to it and daily increase in it, and also that it may obtain currency and permanency among other people, and prevail powerfully through the world, that many may come to the kingdom of grace, and be participants of redemption, through the Holy Ghost; in order that we may all thus remain together eternally in one kingdom now commenced.
The kingdom of God comes to us in two different ways:– First, in this world, temporally– through the Word and through faith; afterwards, eternally– by manifestation of the life to come. Now, we pray in this petition, both, that this kingdom may come to those who are not yet in it, and to us, who have obtained it, through daily increase, and in future in eternal life. All this is nothing more than saying: "Beloved Father, we pray thee grant us, first, thy Word, that the Gospel may be purely and sincerely preached through the world; second, that, being received through faith, it may operate and live in us; that thy kingdom may thus prevail among us through the Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit; and that the kingdom of the devil may be overthrown, so that he may have no dominion nor power over us, until, ultimately, his kingdom be entirely subdued, and sin and death and hell destroyed; so that we may eternally live in the enjoyment of perfect righteousness and felicity."
Hence you perceive, that here we do not pray for a morsel of bread, or for temporal and transitory blessings, but for an eternal, inexhaustible treasure, and all that God himself possesses; which is more than any human heart could presume to desire, if God himself had not commanded it to be prayed for. But since he is God, he also wishes to have the honor that he grants much more and more abundantly, than any one is able to comprehend; like a perpetual, inexhaustible fountain, which, the more it discharges and overflows, issues the more freely from its source; and nothing does he more ardently desire from us, than that we supplicate him for many and great blessings; while on the other hand, if we do not confidently pray and entreat, his anger is provoked.
For this would be quite as inconsistent, as if the most opulent and powerful emperor would command a poor indigent beggar to request whatever he might desire, and were ready to grant great and princely gifts, but the foolish, mendicant would ask for nothing more than a mess of pottage, he would be justly considered a villain and a wicked wretch, mocking and deriding the command of imperial majesty, in whose presence he would not be worthy to appear.
So it also reflects extreme dishonor and contumely on God,– who offers and promises us so many ineffable blessings,– if we slight his offer and promise, or hesitate to receive them, scarcely venturing to pray for a morsel of bread. But all this may be ascribed to our impious unbelief, which does not look unto God for even as much as will nourish our bodies, much less that we should confidently await these eternal blessings from him. We should, therefore, fortify ourselves against such unbelief, and let this be the first thing for which we pray; and we shall undoubtedly have every thing else abundantly; as Christ, Matt. 6, 33, teaches: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." For how should he allow us to suffer temporal wants, since he promises these eternal and imperishable blessings?