Read: Psalm 48
Last time we saw that when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are asking God to perform a work in our hearts, to make us submit more and more to His will. This time, we see that the second petition is also about Christ’s church. The Heidelberg Catechism indicates this when it says, “preserve and increase Thy church.” We shift our attention now from the personal to the ecclesiastical.
The church is the assembly of believers and their children whom God has called out of darkness into His marvelous light. The church is the body and bride of Christ and consists of all of the elect who are gathered by Christ through His Word. The church is not confined to a specific place or time, but is found throughout history. Especially in the New Testament, the church is made up of all nations, tribes, and tongues. This church assembles together in order to worship Jehovah. Wherever we find a congregation that holds to the Word of God and proclaims the true gospel of Jesus Christ, there we find a manifestation of the glorious body and bride of Christ. It is this church that we ask God to preserve and increase.
The church must be preserved because she has so many enemies. The Heidelberg Catechism deals with this at length a little bit later in Lord’s Day 48, so we will treat this some more next time. For now, we simply recognize that the church could not stand a moment if Christ did not preserve her.
Let us focus for a moment on the petition for God to increase His church. With this petition, we are asking God to gather all of His elect into the church. God is pleased to gather His elect people in two ways. First, God gathers His church from the elect children of believing parents. Therefore, when we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we are praying for our children, thanking God for making them members of His church and covenant. We are also asking that we be given grace to raise them in His fear, that they might know Him and love Him.
Second, God gathers His church through the work of missions and through our speaking to our family, friends, and neighbors who are not yet converted to Christ. By the Word, sinners are called out of darkness into His marvelous light. Therefore, we are asking God to send forth His Word powerfully to gather in His elect people.
And so we pray: Thy kingdom come . . . in the church.