How to Pray for God’s Kingdom

(This article is abridged from a chapter in Glorifying and Enjoying God: 52 Devotions through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.)


In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches us to pray for the coming of his kingdom (Matt. 6:10). This sounds like a grand idea, something we should surely do. But how do we do it? How do we use the second petition of Jesus’ prayer to make other prayers in line with his will for God’s kingdom?


What Is God’s Kingdom?

God’s kingdom is the realm over which Christ rules as mediator. God presently governs all things. But “kingdom” describes His specific rule over those who are self-consciously submissive to Christ.[i] Some people rebel against King Jesus. They make up another kingdom, that of darkness (Col. 1:13). Where sin reigns, so does its prince (Matt. 9:34). Where grace reigns, so does its King (Rom. 5:21).

God’s kingdom is a dominant concept in Scripture. God is the great King whose subjects revolted, fracturing His world. Since the great rebellion God has been reasserting His reign. The kingdom is always coming, growing, and expanding (Matt. 13:31–33). It started small, in a garden; it will be fully realized in a massive and elegant walled city. God is restoring order by repatriating citizens into His realm and enlisting them to fight against this world’s evil. Jesus died to pay the penalty for defection and reopen the gate for penitent sinners to enter the holy city. He will eventually reconcile all things to Himself (Col. 1:20). In the meantime, kingdom citizens are learning to restructure their values according to kingdom priorities.

What the coming of God’s kingdom means for each of us depends on how we respond to Jesus’ rule. John Calvin put it this way: God establishes His kingdom “by humbling the whole world, but in different ways. For he tames the wantonness of some, breaks the untamable pride of others.”[ii] This truth affects how we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. The second petition teaches us to pray that God would pull down Satan’s strongholds and establish his kingdom in the world.


How Should We Pray against Satan’s Kingdom?

Satan is a fallen angel. He was created by God but refused to live out the Lord’s command to glorify Him. Rebelling against God, Satan became totally corrupted. When he fell from God’s favor, he took with him a portion of the angelic heavenly host (Rev. 12:4, 7–9), who became demons and who now lie under God’s irrevocable curse. Because they know that they will one day enter eternal torment with great wrath (v. 12), they try to usurp a kingdom by lies (John 8:44), tricks, and empty promises. Satan is an inferior rebel fighting a lost cause.

Believers are to pray against Satan and all God’s enemies. Paul promises that “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). Those who will one day judge the world (Rev. 20:4) must also fight and pray against Satan in their place and day. We pray that God would curb false teachers, ravenous wolves, and hirelings who seek their own honor rather than God’s.

Jesus came to destroy Satan’s works (1 John 3:8). His exorcisms were a sign that He was plundering Satan’s house (Matt. 12:29) and that His kingdom was coming (v. 28). The disciples Jesus sent out exercised authority over demons (Luke 10:18–19). The apostle John saw “an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:1–2), restricting him from fully deceiving the nations (v. 3). John saw Satan emasculated. Now we should be praying that the plans of our weakened foe continue to unravel.


How Should We Pray for God’s Kingdom?

As we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, we should understand that “the one idea of the kingdom of God is realized in two sweeping moments.… It is present in repentance, faith [and] rebirth” in the kingdom of grace. “It is yet to come as a full [end-of-time] reality” in the kingdom of glory.[iii]

So we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom of grace through personal conversion and consecrated living. “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (John 3:5). We pray that we and others would enter God’s kingdom and live as children of the King doing His will (Ps. 119:5; Matt. 7:21; 2 Thess. 3:1–5). We plead with God to “gather churches unto himself from all parts of the earth…spread and increase them in number; that he adorn them with gifts” and put them in order (Matt. 24:14).[iv]

We should also pray for the coming of God’s kingdom of glory. Presently God’s kingdom cannot be identified with physical property or particular nations. But Christ’s kingdom is “destined one day to manifest itself also externally and bodily in the city of God, from which all the ungodly are banished and in which God will be all in all.”[v] God is separating the kingdoms of sin and grace. At the last day the Lord will consume the lawless one “with the breath of His mouth” and destroy him “with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thess. 2:8). Christ will have put all enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:24–25). He will be glorified! So we pray “with a holy impatience” for the kingdom of glory to come quickly in Christ’s second coming (Rev. 22:20).[vi]

The spiritual battle for dominion will be won by King Jesus exercising His absolute authority. Because this is so, prayer is not a retreat from battle. It is a God-ordained and effective means of gaining victory over the kingdom of Satan and flourishing in God’s kingdom of grace as we look forward to eternal life in His kingdom of glory.


William Boekestein pastors Immanuel Fellowship Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has authored numerous books including, with Jonathan Landry Cruse and Andrew Miller, Glorifying and Enjoying God: 52 Devotions through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

[i] See Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 406–12.

[ii] John Calvin, Institutes, 3.20.42.

[iii] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:233.

[iv] Calvin, Institutes, 3.20.42.

[v] Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:366.

[vi] Alexander Whyte, Exposition on the Shorter Catechism, 266.


William Boekestein