As a third grade student, we had devotionals
in our public school classroom everyone
morning which involved the class singing
in unison what is typically known as the Lord’s
prayer, See Matt 6:9–13.
I later learned that this is the prayer that
the Lord taught his disciples to pray. In that
sense, it would more aptly be described as
the disciples prayer. See Lk 11:1ff.
However, after studying the prayer, I
discovered that I could not conscientiously
pray that prayer as Jesus taught his disciples
to pray it. Why is that?
Well, it’s because it is a prayer of the
coming of the kingdom. In that prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray, your kingdom come. That means they were to live most of their lives in expectation and anticipation of the coming of the kingdom, (Acts 1:6, 14:22; 2 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 1:11).
But, how would you feel if people kept asking you for something they had already given to you? Would that be ingratitude, ignorance, an irritation and an annoyance to the point of embarrassment?
If you owed someone money, and they paid you, then every time they saw you in public, at a restaurant, a network meeting, in a church parking lot, or on the job, they asked you to pay them the money you owed them, what would you think? What would you say? What would you do?
Do we yet live in anticipation of the kingdom? Are we yet in expectation? Are we an annoyance to God for asking over and over again for something he gave to the world and especially to Christians long ago?
Perhaps we could better understand by discussing a few thoughts on expectation and realization.
Expectation and Realization
A Christian’s prayer life is affected because of expectation versus realization. Expectation is the anticipation of receiving something one does not already have. Realization is the actual possession of that object or the fruit of that desire.
When a seed is planted, one expects and anticipates a harvest. Paul uses a text to talk about remuneration for ministry which illustrates the point.
“For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?
Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who thrashes in hope should be partaker of his hope,” (1 Cor. 9:9, 10).
Thus, one “who plows should plow in hope.” That is during the preparation for a harvest, one prepares the ground by plowing, then plants the seed and hopes for a harvest.
However, once the harvest has come and threshing or harvesting of the crop begins, it is no longer the time to plow in hope. Expectation and anticipation has now turned to realization.
Rather than continually expecting the harvest, one should now be a partaker of the harvest. It is time to enjoy what has been plowed, planted and plucked for one’s own pleasure and provision.
To Everything There is A Season
Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.” (Ecc. 3:1, 2).
It would be contrary to nature to plant a seed and in the next instant complain that there is no crop. Why? Because that is the time of the planting and growing.
On the other hand, it is likewise insensible to remain in expectation after the harvest has come. One does not grow a crop and then stand looking upon the ripened fields yet expecting the harvest to come.
When the harvest comes, expectation gives way to partaking of the fruit of the harvest.
A Delayed Harvest Makes Means Catastrophe
A delayed harvest creates more anticipation, even frustration, even loss of faith. Jesus asked whether he might find faith on earth at his coming, Lk. 18:1–8.
Delay could also create ruin in myriads of ways. If crops never matured for harvest, the farmer would have no goods to eat, sell or distribute. That creates hardship and eventually bankruptcy.
Solomon wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.” (Prov. 13:12) In addition, he says, “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul…”(Prov. 13:19).
To have a delayed harvest creates sickness. To receive the object desired is a tree of life. Solomon says its the difference as that between life and death, i.e. anticipation versus participation in what is realized.
We No Longer Anticipate Christ’s Return
- The Lord promised he would return before all in his generation died, (Matt. 16:28, 24:34).
- Paul taught that the end of the ages had come upon “us” i.e. first century Christians, (1 Cor. 10:11).
- James taught that the coming of the Lord had drawn near, (Jas. 5:7–9). In fact, he uses the analogy from sowing and reaping a harvest to encourage the saints.Note: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”…Behold the Judge is standing at the door!”James’ message was filled with so much urgency that he said, Christ was then standing at the door.
- Peter said the God was about to judge the living and the dead, the end of all things had drawn near and the time of the judgment had come. (1 Peter 4:5, 7, 17)
- Paul wrote that the Lord would come very soon without delay, (Heb. 10:37).
So, the harvest was near. It would come within that generation, i.e. before they all died, just as the Lord promised. The apostles saw the nearness of that event and spoke of it as about to happen having drawn near.
We do not live in the first century. We do not live in anticipation. That day arrived, even before John, the apostle died, John 21:22–23). It came in the first century. We now live in that ongoing everlasting harvest. We do look forward in anticipation anymore. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
We don’t plow in hope. We partake of hope. We don’t plow in hope when we are supposed to be partaking in threshing. Paul expressed it this way to the Romans:
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?’ Rom. 8:25).
Now that we see Christ’s return fulfilled, there is no more hoping for it to come. We no longer live in expectation. We therefore should no longer pray, your kingdom come, but rather, offer gratitude and thanks for the kingdom and live as it demands.
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