SproulLordsPrayer 9

The Prayer of the Lord

Chapter 9: Yours Is the Kingdom

Recently, as I was preparing to preach a sermon on the concluding line of the Lord’s Prayer, I experienced no small amount of consternation. My normal procedure in sermon preparation is to look at the text carefully, look at it in the Greek, look at it in the Latin, and then consult four or five commentaries to see what insights I might gain from others who have studied the text. But as I studied for this particular sermon, I examined no fewer than ten commentaries and was astonished to discover that not a single one of them included more than two sentences about the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer. I was stunned by this lack of attention, because I think this is one of the most important portions of the Lord’s Prayer, if not the most important.
I can point to at least one reason for this lack of scholarly attention—there’s a textual problem involved. Many of the ancient manuscripts include this doxological ending to the prayer, but some do not, among them the Codex Vaticanus, which is one of the most important of the ancient texts. As a result, there is a widespread belief among scholars that this ending was not in the original prayer but was added very soon afterward because it was customary among the Jews to conclude their prayers with a doxology. But even the scholars who are convinced that this line was in the original prayer give little or no attention to it. Instead, they treat it as something of a postscript, sort of a throwaway line that isn’t all that important, particularly in light of the significant petitions that precede it.
One of the most beautiful aspects of this concluding line of the Lord’s Prayer, in my opinion, is that it returns the focus to God. As we saw in earlier chapters, the prayer opens with a strong Godward slant, as seen in the initial petitions: “Hallowed be Your name,” “Your kingdom come,” and “Your will be done.” Jesus taught His disciples that their prayers should be centered on the glory of God, and it is only after we spend time praising and adoring Him that we should shift to focusing on our needs, through petitions such as “Give us this day our daily bread,” “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” and “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” But at the end of the prayer, Jesus brings it full circle, and the focal point shifts from us back to God once again. The prayer ends with these words: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (
Matt. 6:13
Things That Are God’s
It is important to see that the pronoun that is used to identify God here, “Yours,” is in the possessive form. With these words, believers affirm that the kingdom of heaven, supreme power, and ultimate glory all belong properly to God alone. So it has always been, so it is, and so it will be “forever.”
Let us look more closely at these three things that Jesus says belong to God. First, we are to acknowledge that “the kingdom” is His. Manifestly, the kingdom of God is not my kingdom or your kingdom. It’s His kingdom, His sovereign rule. He reigns supreme over all things and His kingdom shall have no end.
My local newspaper recently printed a quiz about the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. There were only ten questions in the quiz, but one of those questions really bugged me. It asked what kind of government the Founding Fathers established—an oligarchy, an aristocracy, an indirect democracy, or a direct democracy? I looked at that question and I asked myself, “Why didn’t they give ‘none of the above’ as an option?” The United States of America was not founded as a democracy, either direct or indirect. It was founded as a republic, and there’s a huge difference between the two. But the quiz also included a question about the thinkers who influenced the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The answer specifically mentioned the British empiricist John Locke, whose ideas, along with those of Thomas Hobbes and Edmund Burke, had a great influence. Locke’s major contribution was in the area of the social contract of government, which states that people must agree to surrender some rights to government for the benefit of social order. This theory undergirds the idea that legitimate governmental authority stems from the consent of the governed. For this reason, the United States is said to have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
But not so the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not of the people, by the people, or for the people. It is a kingdom ruled by a King, and God does not rule by the consent of His subjects but by His sovereign authority. His reign extends over me whether I vote for Him or not.
The God of All Power
Second, Jesus teaches us that we should acknowledge in prayer that “the power” is God’s. The Greek word that is translated as “power” here is dunamis. It’s the same word from which we get the English word dynamite. This line of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that God possesses all power in heaven and on earth—power to create, power to save, and power to enable believers to live the Christian life.
I recently received a copy of Iain Murray’s latest biography, an account of the life of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the greatest preachers of the twentieth century. In this biography, Murray tells a story from the heyday of Lloyd-Jones’ preaching career in London. There were three world-famous preachers in that city at that time, including Lloyd-Jones, and a visitor to London took the time to visit all three churches to personally hear each man preach. When he was finished with his survey, he said the first man preached the love of God, the second one preached Jesus, and the third, Lloyd-Jones, preached God. When I read that, I thought, “That’s what preaching ought to be.”
Murray notes that Lloyd-Jones said that no matter how disciplined a minister is in the preparation of his sermon, no matter how learned he may be, no matter how much knowledge he brings to the pulpit, no matter how eloquent and persuasive he is, without the accompanying power of God the Holy Spirit, his sermons are impotent. Lloyd-Jones was absolutely right, and I am acutely conscious of that. When I preach, if the Holy Spirit does not take the Word of God to my hearers’ hearts, I am completely helpless, and I know it. That’s why, at the beginning of each sermon, I ask God the Holy Spirit to descend and to help those in the congregation. That’s not just a mere formal statement, it’s a plea for my hearers. We all need the power of the Holy Spirit to bring the truth of the Word of God home to us. The Holy Spirit is sometimes called “the power of God,” and that’s the same word Jesus used in the Lord’s Prayer, dunamis. He can take the Word of God and make it explode in a person’s soul.
I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it—His Word. He alone has the power to change lives for eternity, and that power is focused on the Scriptures.
Glory to God Alone
Third, Jesus instructs us to affirm in prayer that the glory is rightfully God’s. In his great doxology in
Rom. 11
, Paul does just that, declaring, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever” (
Rom. 11:36
). Paul writes that all things are “of” God, “through” God, and “to” God, magnifying His glory forever. As servants of God, we should desire that He be magnified over all things, including ourselves. Our prayer should be that of John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (
John 3:30
It was the habit of Johann Sebastian Bach to write, at the bottom of each of his musical compositions, the initials “S.D.G.” to remind himself and everyone who played his compositions that the glory was God’s alone. “S.D.G.,” of course, stands for the Latin phrase Soli Deo gloria, which means “Glory to God alone.” Bach didn’t write simply “D.G.”—“Glory to God.” It always had to be “S.D.G.”—“Glory to God alone.” That’s what we affirm at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. We acknowledge that we have no glory in us, that God is glorious beyond our ability to express, and that He is never required to share His glory with men.
The original temptation in Eden was to usurp the glory of God. The serpent said to Eve: “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (
Gen. 3:4
). Satan’s lie was that man would participate in deity. That lie is still being circulated today, tempting individuals to pursue ultimate glory. Yes, we should strive for significance. Yes, we should strive to make our lives count, but the glory belongs to God alone.
Finally, how long does God rule His kingdom? What is the duration of His possession of almighty power? At what point in the future does He share His glory? Jesus answers all these questions in this final line of the Lord’s Prayer: “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” God’s sovereignty, omnipotence, and glory are not temporary things. They will last into eternity. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. From everlasting to everlasting, it is His kingdom, His power, His glory.
The Lord’s Prayer concludes with that simple word that is so familiar to us, the word we use to close all our prayers but hardly ever consider: Amen. This is an Old Testament word, derived from the Aramaic, that means “truly” or “so be it.” Having prayed according to Jesus’ instructions, we declare “so be it.”
1 Chron. 29
, following David’s instructions, the people of Israel brought offerings for the construction of the temple. When that great offering was gathered in, David stood before the people, but he did not praise them. Instead, he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all” (
1 Chron. 29:11
). David ascribed the kingdom, the power, and the glory to God. So we must do, every day of our lives.
SproulLordsPrayer 9
© 2009 R.C. Sproul Trust. All worldwide rights reserved.
Used with permission under license.