Friday, May 01, 2009

Praying for the Reign of Grace Over All the Earth

The Larger Catechism asks the question
Question 191: What do we pray for in the second petition [of the Lord's prayer]?
Answer: In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come), acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.

The Southern Presbyterian William Swan Plumer, a good commentator and an attractive experimental writer writes on this subject in 'The rock of our salvation' and provides a prayer that illustrates this spirit.

God's people can pray for the reign of grace over all the earth. Such supplications are agreeable to the will of God. Psa. 122:6. The first three petitions of the Lord's prayer embrace the same subject. There is too little united, hearty calling on God. All the progress hitherto made in bringing men to a saving knowledge of the Redeemer has been in answer to the fervent cries of the children of God. There is nothing more powerful for good than prayer.

There should be a much deeper tone of piety in all the churches. Love is too cold. Faith too often staggers. Repentance -sheds too few tears. Joy has but few feasts. Pity for the perishing too seldom stirs the soul to its depths. Adoring views of God have too little power over men's minds. Hope is too feeble to impart much animation.

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts ! The whole earth is full of thy glory. Blessed be the Lord for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun,and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth, and the fulness thereof. Still more would we bless thee for the good will of Him that dwelt in the bush, and for thy precious loving-kindness, and for the precious seed of gospel truth, and for the precious promises, and for precious faith to believe thy word, and for the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, and for the precious death of thy saints, and for the precious name of Jesus, which is as ointment poured forth, and for the precious blood of the Son of God, through whom we have redemption. Look in mercy on this dark world. Remember Zion. Make Joseph a fruitful bough, whose branches run over the wall. Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion. Bring back the captivity of thy people, that Jacob may rejoice and Israel be glad. Thou hast set thy Son on thy holy hill of Zion. Righteousness is the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. Hasten the time when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the young .lion and the fat- ling together, and a child shall lead them; and the cow and the bear shall feed, and their young ones lie down together, and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the nations shall learn war no more, and thy ancient people the Jews and the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in; when the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ; when the Lord shall call them his people which are not now his people; when the angel shall fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.

Lord God of hosts, cut short the work in righteousness. Let the ploughman overtake the reaper, and let a nation be born in a day.

"Pity the nations, O our God;
Constrain the earth to come ;
Send thy victorious word abroad,
And bring the strangers home."

We are indeed asking great things, but we do it at thy command. We ask no more than thou hast promised to thy Son, and no more than he has purchased by his most precious blood, and no more than he himself intercedes for in heaven. Amen.