The “Lord’s prayer” (as it is commonly called but more appropriately “The model prayer”), was given by Jesus on two different occasions. It appeared early in His ministry when He preached the “Sermon on the Mount” and is found in Matthew 6:9-13. The second time it was given was in response to His disciples who said, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:2-4). And so (save for the phrase “thy kingdom come” for the kingdom has come) it remains a model prayer today. Jesus said that when we pray, we should pray thus: “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:9-13, ASV). To this latter verse the KJV adds, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever, Amen” which phrase well fits the majesty of the simple but lofty prayer. In this brief prayer are included almost all the elements of the petitions and praise in our intercessions to our Father, through the name of Jesus (Jn. 16:24).
The phrase, “Thy kingdom come” expressed the longings and looking for a kingdom of the disciples of Jesus’ day. They were looking for a kingdom because through the centuries the voices of their inspired men had given reason for them to expect such. Before Israel developed into a nation, Jacob, before his death, blessed his sons and to Judah he uttered, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a ruler’s staff from beneath his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the obedience of the people be” (Gen. 49:10). This prophecy looked forward to a Messiah to whom all nations would submit. The prophets wrote that one who was of David’s seed would sit upon his throne (2 Sam. 7:13). Many prophesies pointed to the coming reign of such a ruler (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1). Furthermore, the prophets had spoken of a kingdom being set up by God. The prophet Daniel said that future kingdom would be everlasting (Dan. 2:44).
Added to these predictions made centuries, or even thousands of years before, of a coming kingdom, in Jesus’ day a man named John who claimed to have been sent from God appeared on the scene. His message, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand,” resonated with the populace and thousands flocked to hear his message and be baptized by him. Some thought he was the Messiah, others viewed him as Elijah or the prophet of whom Moses spoke (Dt. 18:15) but John denied being either of these (Jn. 1:20-21). He said that he was that voice of whom Isaiah had written, “The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa. 40:3). He spoke repeatedly of the Messiah. He (John) was not worthy to stoop down and loose the latchets of his shoes. The One coming after him was “become before him, for he was before him” and of that coming One John said, “He must increase but I must decrease.” John identified Jesus of Nazareth as the One of whom he spoke. He called Him the “Lamb of God” and “The Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:36, 29). Not only had the prophets promised a Messiah and a kingdom; not only did John (whom all the people held to be a prophet, Mt. 21:26) identify Jesus as that Messiah, but unlike John who worked no miracles (Jn. 10:31), Jesus came working many marvels and signs, witnessing of Him that the things He said were true (Jn. 5:36). Like John, Jesus preached, “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15). And, He not only revealed that the kingdom was “near” or “at hand,” He said emphatically, “Verily I say unto you. There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till the see the kingdom of God come with power” (Mk. 9:1).
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Jesus taught in His sermons about the kingdom, gave many parables illustrating different things about it, and revealed to Nicodemus that to be part of that kingdom one must be born anew (John 3:1-5), the promised kingdom had not come when Jesus was crucified. The hopes of these men were dashed and two disciples on the road to Emmaus expressed unknowingly to Jesus, their grievous disappointment: “We hoped it was he who should redeem Israel” (Lk. 24:21). But when Jesus was resurrected and the apostles convinced, their hope for the kingdom revived and sprang quickly to life once more. For forty days Jesus appeared to them “speaking the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). But then came the day of Jesus’ ascension to His Father and as the kingdom still had not yet come; they could not restrain themselves. They asked, “Lord, dost thou at this time restore again the kingdom of God to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Jesus’ said, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father hath set within his own authority” (Acts 1:7).
While Jesus’ answer did not tell them all they hoped to hear, there was one reassuring note. Jesus “charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). That promise was the Holy Spirit which both John and He had promised would come upon them (Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:5). Jesus also added, “But ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8), and had not Jesus said some of them would live to see the kingdom “come with power” (Mk. 9:1)? With such an answer they must be content until further revelation from the Father.
And, while they were mulling over Jesus’ words which included that some of them then living would see the kingdom come with power, they might also have remembered that Jesus had promised Peter “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 16:19), and if Peter had the keys he must surely be alive to use those keys, to open the gates to the kingdom! Some of them would live to see that kingdom come, certainly Peter would, and so as they were commanded they returned to Jerusalem to wait until that promised power from on high should come to them.