What happens when we pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’?
A reflection from Ian Adams, Church Mission Society Mission Spirituality Adviser and tutor at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.
To pray Thy Kingdom Come is to pray for a shift in the world around us.
It is to yearn for things to be different.
To imagine transparency in a culture of fake news.
To find compassion in a society that resorts so readily to shame and blame.
To long for grace, mercy and peace in an anxious and fearful world (2 John 1.3)
But to pray Thy Kingdom Come is first to pray for a shift within ourselves.
For this is where the change we seek must begin.
To pray this prayer is to yearn to live increasingly in the light of the Christ.
It is to commit ourselves again each day to taking the path that is love for God, love for neighbour, and love for the earth and her creatures.
It is to assent to the life of God within us.
Such a shift will be demanding.
Our priorities will need to be examined and re-calibrated.
In so many ways we can find ourselves compromised.
As much part of the problem as part of the solution, accepting of the ways things are, lacking the imagination or the courage to live in the way of Jesus.
To pray Thy Kingdom Come is a costly thing.
But this shift will also be freeing.
To pray Thy Kingdom Come is to step into the freedom to follow God's call into life and mission in the way of Jesus.
There's nothing quite like being who you are called to be, and doing what you are called to do.
The monk Thomas Merton wrote memorably of this discovery in his own life:
I belonged to God, not to myself; and to belong to him is to be free.
As this sense of freedom deepens we may find ourselves yearning for the same freedom for those around us.
To pray Thy Kingdom Come now becomes an invitation to others to share the path that we ourselves are taking each day.
It is to pray that those with whom we live and work may also be open to encounter with the stranger coming near to them on the road (Luke 24.13-25).
It is to long that they too may find their hearts burning within them, and that in time with open eyes they may recognise the risen Christ with them and within them.
When we pray Thy Kingdom Come we are not alone.
We pray with countless others praying this prayer around the world and through time.
To pray Thy Kingdom Come is also, vitally, to pray with the one who gave us the longer prayer from which the line comes (Matthew 6.5-15).
It is part of a personal prayer, formed in the life of Jesus.
In praying this prayer we pray with him - and he prays in us.
And so we may pray with confidence, and with love... Thy Kingdom Come.