“He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18-20)
Thy Kingdom Come, this is what we pray for when we pray the Lord’s prayer, a mustard seed growing inside our soul. Faith taking us over. God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed, and everyone knows that what he is describing is faith.
So the question comes, what is the difference between this and the “sinners prayer” if the sinner’s prayer is a prayer for faith, the same that is asked for when we pray thy kingdom come. I suppose there is the issue of kitsch and art that plays into it. The whole idea of the sinners prayer is grotesque to me. For one it seems to be a run around, a way of actually avoiding the faith that we ask for when we pray “thy kingdom come.” I always find it weird that it is churches that supposedly believe nothing but the bible and yet don’t consider it possible for infants to believe, despite the express words of Christ that the little ones actually do believe in him, that are the ones clamoring for the sinners prayer, and all but ignoring the Lord’s prayer.
The sinners prayer makes the acceptance of Christ and faith into the work of the sinner who asked for it. Right there you run into problems, a sinner’s work is always sin. And it tends to make faith into something it is not. I’m always dumbfounded, by people who raise their children all of whom can recite Bible verses and otherwise exhibit the strongest of faith, and yet because they are not yet 8, and haven’t yet said the sinners prayer the parents seem to think their kids aren’t yet believers. By the time Baptist parents get done with their children they’ll snuff any vestige of faith right out with that teaching. It really is a grotesque thing to watch.
Thy Kingdom Come, there are a couple crucial differences, between this and the sinners prayer as I see it. Yes, we are praying for faith. Even the strongest believer knows that the mustard seed can grow a bit more in his own soul. The Lord’s Prayer assumes faith on behalf of those praying. Only believers can pray, the whole point of Romans 10:10, prayer and confession assume belief in the heart to begin with, belief that is completed and complimented with prayer and confession which are really the same thing at root. This is the prayer, at least as it pertains to the individual who is praying, of the father who prays to Jesus, “I believe. Help thou my unbelief!”
But the Lord’s Prayer is not so selfish a prayer to be prayed only on behalf of an individual either. The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of a community. So it begins with our, and not my. It is never prayed alone. Whenever it is prayed, it is a community of believers invoked and praying with you, even when there is no one in the room with you. And we do not ask that his kingdom come on behalf of ourselves, but on behalf of the whole world, and most importantly within the community that God has placed us. Yes, God has placed you in this community, to be a witness to this community, to pray for this community, to support his work in this community into which you were placed.
So here the prayer is not for yourself, but all whom you know. That the kingdom would come and grow among you like a mustard seed sprouting, the plant blossoming, the kingdom spreading.