A Request Made Around the World
IMAGINE hundreds of millions, even billions, of people, all asking for the same thing. They are asking the highest authority in the universe to fulfill a specific request. Yet, very few of them know just what it is that they are asking for. Could such a thing really happen? In fact, it happens every day. What are all these people asking for? The coming of the Kingdom of God!
By one estimate, there are some 37,000 religions that call themselves Christian, claiming Jesus Christ as their Leader. There are well over two billion members of those faiths. Vast numbers of them pray what is often called the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer. Do you know this prayer? As Jesus taught it to his followers, it begins this way: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”
For centuries now, worshippers have reverently repeated those words in churches. They have also recited them in family groups and as individuals, in good times and in bad. They have spoken the words sincerely, even fervently. Many others have learned them by rote and utter them with little or no thought to the meaning. These members of Christendom are not the only ones who have hoped and prayed for the coming of God’s Kingdom.
A Request That Crosses Religious Borders
A well-known prayer of the Jewish faith is the mourner’s Kaddish. Although it has little to do with death or grief, it is commonly uttered in times of bereavement. The prayer asks: “May he [God] establish his Kingdom in your lifetime. . . even speedily.”* Another ancient synagogue prayer speaks of the hope for the Kingdom of the Messiah from the house of David.
Others of non-Christian faiths have found the idea of God’s Kingdom appealing. According to The Times of India, a prominent 19th-century Indian religious leader, who was interested in bridging the Hindu, Muslim, and Christian faiths, said: “The true kingdom of God will not be realised unless the east and west are joined together.” And the principal of an Islamic college in Strathfield, Australia, recently wrote to a newspaper: “Like all Muslims, I believe [that] Jesus will return and establish the true Kingdom of God.”
Without a doubt, those now hoping and asking for God’s Kingdom number into the billions. But consider an interesting phenomenon.
You likely know that we Jehovah’s Witnesses, who publish this magazine, go from house to house in your community to engage people in discussions about the Bible. As of this writing, we are doing this work all over the world, in 236 lands and in well over 400 languages. The main theme of our preaching is the Kingdom of God. In fact, note that the full title of this magazine is The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. We often ask people whether they pray for that Kingdom. A great many answer yes. However, when asked what that Kingdom is, most people answer, in effect, “I don’t know,” or their answer is vague and uncertain.
Why do so many ask for something they cannot define? Is it because the Kingdom of God is a complex, vague concept? No. The Kingdom is thoroughly and clearly explained in the Bible. What is more, the Bible’s message about the Kingdom can give you real hope in these dark times. In the following article, we will see how the Bible explains that hope. Then we will see when Jesus’ prayer for the Kingdom to come will be answered.
Like the model prayer that Jesus gave, the mourner’s Kaddish also asks that God’s name be sanctified. While there is some debate on the question of whether the Kaddish dates back to the time of Christ or even earlier, we should not be surprised by any similarities. Jesus’ prayer was not intended to be innovative or revolutionary. Each request was solidly based on the Scriptures then available to all Jews. Jesus was encouraging his fellow Jews to pray for things they should have been praying for all along.