PRAYER AND CHRIST'S RETURN
Prayer is a very
comforting and powerful activity that God has designed for fellowshipping
with His children -
believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I need to add - that prayer is heard by God ONLY from believers.
OT: Those who have relationship with God through personal faith in the
NT: Only born-again believers in Jesus Christ.
ONLY from believers who have no unconfessed sin in their life.
Psalm 66:18 is a universal truth, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the
Lord will not hear me."
I'll leave it to y'all to make application of that where you think it
Now - There are several categories of prayer that cover every aspect of our
But whether it is praise or giving of thanks,
whether it is praying for others or for self -
it all revolves around the principle of trust in what God has done and what
He has promised to do.
I grew up with the term, faith-rest.
Faithrest is the attitude of resting confidently and joyfully in the
character and plan of God.
The believer who expresses this attitude knows that God is in control and
that His wisdom and timing will always
govern each and every situation in life.
Faithrest is in fact, the GENERAL attitude that is expressed in ALL prayer
When this attitude is expressed in petition prayer - that is, praying for
something to happen either for others or for self -
we rest in knowing that it can actually move God to adjust circumstances in
life to an outcome that would not otherwise be realized. James wrote,
"the empowered prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
And WHATEVER the outcome - that is - whether specific requests are granted
the trusting believer will rest assured that God causes all things to work
together for good.
However, there are many situations in life that are unalterable because they
are set to occur by the established plan of God.
Faithrest-prayer recognizes this and does not presume to appeal to God to
adjust His plan.
As the believer learns from God's word, he gains insight into the promises
and plan of God for both the present and the future - as well as
understanding how God has worked in the past.
Faithrest-prayer is expressed toward the certainties within God's plan,
while knowing that those certainties cannot be altered.
A good example is our attitude toward the second coming of Christ.
The fact and timing of His arrival is established in the plan of God. And it
is so stated in the Bible.
As Paul wrote at 1Tim. 6:15, the second coming of Jesus is an event that God
"will bring about at HIS OWN time."
Jesus said about that time,
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor
the Son, BUT the Father only." Mat. 24:36.
But of course, that was spoken from the perspective of His humanity. At that
time He did not know the specifics of the Father's timing. He is well aware
of all things now.
And while the believer is exhorted to "wait for" and "patiently expect" the
arrival of the Lord, as at 1Cor. 1:7, "eagerly awaiting the revelation of
our Lord Jesus Christ,"
we are not told to "pray" for its arrival.
Instead, we express the faith-rest attitude of Phil. 4:5, "The Lord is
and James 5:7-8,
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer
waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it
gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts,
for the coming of the Lord is near.
Even the apparent watchword, maranatha at 1 Cor. 16:22, should not be seen
as a request or appeal, but as an expression of confidence and trust that
Jesus will in fact return.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about this expression, maranatha, since
it is an Aramaic expression that has been transliterated into the Greek.
First of all,
A.T.Robertson, Vincent and others indicate that it should not be connected
with the phrase, anathema as in the KJV.
They are two separate expressions.
Some translate it as "come Lord," which makes it appear to be an appeal or
request for Him to come.
Others translate is as, our Lord will come or as "the Lord comes."
But since it should be clear that we are not to actually pray for the soon
return of the Lord -
given that the timing of that event is cut into the STONE of the Father's
this should be seen as simply the Aramaic statement of confidence and
expectation, which is found all throughout the New Testament.
With this statement, Paul seems to be expressing confidence that in God's
perfect timing, Jesus will indeed come and render justice on those who do
not love Him. And he is patient to rest in God's timing just as he exhorted
others at 1Cor. 4.5
Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the
Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness
and disclose the motives of human hearts; and then praise will come to each
person from God."
Now, let's look at Rev. 22:20, "Come Lord Jesus."
This is another one of those imperative moods - or commands that do not
really command something to be done.
It is simply a confident agreement with what was just stated.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.
The word, amen is another transliteration from the Hebrew. The Hebrew verb
is, Aman and means to believe or trust.
It became part of Christian liturgy and basically affirms an agreement with
what was previously said.
It is often rendered as, "I believe it."
So after Jesus states the fact that He is indeed coming again, John wrote "I
And then adds, Come, Lord Jesus.
Perhaps colloquially we could say, Ok, Lord, I'm on board with that.
And of course, understanding the visions he had just received, John knew
that Christ's return was totally dependent on the exact and certain timing
of God's plan.
At 1Thes. 4:13-18
Paul explained the certainty of the Lord's arrival and the rapture of
And in that passage, he does not exhort us to pray for it to happen, but he
DOES exhort us to
"therefore comfort one another with these words."
The comfort comes from the faith-rest attitude toward this certain reality
of God's plan.
Consider the Christian's view of suffering and death.
We know that "absent from the body is face to face with the Lord" (2Cor.
5:8), and we put the timing and manner of our death entirely in His hands.
We don't pray to die in order to be with Him.
Most certainly, the promise at Psalm 23:4 is comforting when truly believed
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear
no harm, for You are with me."
Of course, some who are in extreme suffering as in a terminal death
situation, might pray to die.
But for a trusting believer, such a prayer would be simply a matter of
expressing total trust in His wisdom and timing.
There are many degrees of suffering that many of us will face during our
and especially if we encounter the future tribulation.
But we need to keep our focus on the bigger picture.
From Romans 8:18-25, we know that the sufferings of this present time are
not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.
We learn that the trusting believer will have the attitude, "even we
ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons,
the redemption of our body."
But the faithrest-prayer attitude should be, "with endurance we eagerly wait
for it," as written at verse 25.
Now, concerning the events leading up to the return of Jesus,
it's certainly a sure thing - that Michael will kick Satan out of heaven.
It is certain that Satan will empower the beast.
It is certain that the beast will take his stand in the temple of God and
set up the abomination of desolation.
And it is certain at an unknown day and hour, the decree of God will cut
short the tribulation -
The cosmic signs will announce the coming of the DOL,
And then Jesus will arrive in the clouds of the sky with power and great
glory - and He will send forth His angels
to gather all His elect out from the 4 winds - from the farthest end of the
earth to the farthest end of heaven.
The timing of these things is not dependent on any believer's
petition-prayer, but on the timetable that God has established according to
His perfect wisdom and plan.
Now related to praying for the Lord's return is the example prayer that
Jesus taught to the disciples at Mt. 6:10.
"May Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Mat.
MATTHEW 6:9-13 is usually called the Lord's prayer.
But to be sure, it is not a something that He prayed.
This teaching by Jesus is a MODEL or EXAMPLE prayer and not designed to be
ritually recited. If Jesus had intended for it to be a ritual prayer to be
recited word for word, then God would have preserved it word for word in
Luke's account at Luke 11:2-4.
But the principles stated in the prayer are what should be expressed in the
believer's prayer life.
And the example is for all believers, not only for those to whom Jesus was
speaking, but for all past and future believers as well.
The imperative mood is used for the verbs to express a humility-desire on
the part of the one who prays.
It is not telling God to DO something.
It is expressing praise, the desire for God's viewpoint to be spread
throughout the earth,
and it expresses confidence that God will take care of us and provide for us
on His terms.
Your kingdom come (aorist act. imperative) is explained by the next phrase:
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (aorist passive imp).
This is not talking about the millennial kingdom.
It is not asking God to bring His earthly kingdom.
It is praying for the influence and impact of God's viewpoint and authority
to be felt throughout the world.
The kingdom of God is the realm in which He exists.
The integral (intrinsic and fundamental, and perhaps even spiritual) kingdom
of God has existed from eternity past as God's absolute authority, power and
Psalm 145:13 declares this absolutely.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Although the term "kingdom of God" does not occur here or anywhere in the
OT, it is certainly referring to God's kingdom.
Jesus taught about relationship with God through changing the mind and
believing in HIM as the Savior of the world - the gospel of the kingdom.
He did not teach about an earthly kingdom and did not talk about deliverance
He talked about the here and now kingdom of God's authority and viewpoint;
present and available for entrance into through faith in Him.
That is why both John and Jesus told the people to "repent." That is, change
your mind about God and about His kingdom. It is here now and entrance into
it is available to anyone who will believe in Jesus.
John 3:3-16, You don't enter into it unless you are born again. That is,
unless you receive NEW LIFE (everlasting life) through faith in Christ.
At Luke 18:17 Jesus used the expression, "receive the kingdom of God" to
indicate a faith acceptance of the gospel invitation and entrance into that
realm of relationship with God.
Accordingly, at the very moment that someone believes in Christ, they
receive everlasting life and enter into the kingdom of God.
And then Jesus taught extensively how to live IN the kingdom of God right
now while living on the earth. Basically, the believer is to live with the
attitude of seeking to promote the value system of the kingdom of God. The
value system of God's kingdom is righteousness, justice, mercy and love.
These characteristics are inherent within God's essence and within His
kingdom as it exists perfectly in the realm of the heavenlies. As the
believer grows in grace and knowledge, his life should revolve around
promoting God's righteousness in the world, and thus represent the standards
of God's kingdom here on the earth as he lives according to the royal law of
Such ones are designated as a "disciple of the kingdom of heaven, who brings
forth out of his treasure things new and old." Mat. 13:52.
That is coupling OT truth with NT truth.
Christ's presentation of the kingdom was a here and now reality that
involved forgiveness of sin (Mark 1:4, 14-15);
And relationship with God. as recorded in John -
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of
God, to those who believe in His name,
While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons
It involved the possession of everlasting life - "everyone who believes in
Him has everlasting life. (John 3:15)
It involved the transfer from darkness to light. John 12:46 -
I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me
will not remain in darkness.
AND then He taught the standards for living here on earth as citizens of
that kingdom of light. Mat. 5-7
So, returning to "may your kingdom come" -
the prayer pattern is not praying for the arrival of God's kingdom or the
return of Jesus.
It is expressing the DESIRE that God's TRUTH - be spread abroad on the
This is praying for success in spiritual and moral teaching through the
ambassadorship activity of believers. We are exhorted to "seek first the
kingdom and His righteousness" at Matthew 6:33.
ALL OF US should be praying this way.
It is not asking for God's kingdom of light to arrive, for at the time, it
was already here in the person of Jesus.
Jesus said, "the time IS fulfilled and the kingdom of God HAS come near
He told the Pharisees, "the kingdom of God has come UPON (epi) you." Mat.
At Luke 17:21, Jesus told the people, "the kingdom of God is among (entos)
you (plural). That is, in your presence.
As Jesus ministered, the "kingdom of God" was indeed among them -
represented by His works and His teaching.
And after the resurrection the SAME thing is a reality as the church
promotes the viewpoint and authority of the kingdom of God by teaching and
living God's truth here on earth. "For the kingdom of God is not eating and
drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Rom. 14:17.
This is what Paul did until his death. Acts 28:31, "proclaiming the kingdom
of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ."
And that is how we should approach the certain return of our Lord.
In a previous episode I taught from Luke 21:36,
"But stay alert at all times, praying that you will have strength to escape
all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son
The prayer is not for Christ to come - but for us to have spiritual strength
to be prepared to meet Him when He does come.
Jude 20-21 put it this way,
But you, beloved, building yourselves up by your dedicated faith, praying in
the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to
the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to everlasting life."
Summarizing what Peter wrote in 2Peter chapter 3,
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
So what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12
looking for and promoting the coming of the day of God.
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found
by Him in peace, spotless and blameless. And knowing this beforehand, be on
your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unscrupulous
people and fall from your own stability. 18 but grow in the grace and
knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now
and to the day of eternity. Amen.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts us,
"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence for entrance to the holy
place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated
for us through the veil, that is, through His flesh, 21 and since we have a
great priest over the house of God, 22 let’s approach God with a truthful
heart in full assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from
an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let’s hold
firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised
is faithful; 24 and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and
good deeds, 25 not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of
some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the
day drawing near."