The first section covers three desires concerning God.
“Your name be sanctified!” God has an expectation that we all pray for His name to be sanctified by men. His name is exalted among the angels. But on earth, His name is being used in vain; even the idols use His name. When a man takes the name of God in vain, God does not show His wrath by striking him with thunder. He hides Himself, as if He did not exist. When a man takes His name in vain, He does not do anything to deal with him. Yet He wants His children to pray, “Your name be sanctified.” Brothers and sisters, if you love God and know Him, you will want His name to be sanctified. If anyone takes God’s name in vain, you will feel hurt, your desire will be even stronger, and you will pray even more earnestly: “Your name be sanctified.” One day man will sanctify this name and no longer take this name in vain.
“Your name be sanctified!” God’s name is not only a title we address with our mouth; it is a great revelation we receive from the Lord. God’s name is used in the Bible to designate His revelation to man concerning Himself; it denotes everything we know about Him. God’s name speaks of God’s nature, and it reveals His fullness. This is not something that man can understand with his soul but something that the Lord reveals to us (John 17:6). The Lord said, “And I have made Your name known to them and will yet make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (17:26). This shows us that in order to know God’s name, we need the Lord to make it known to us again and again.
“Your name be sanctified!” This is not only our desire but also our worship to the Father. We should give glory to God. We should begin our prayer with praises. Before we can hope to receive mercy and grace from Him, we should give glory to Him. We should allow Him to gain the fullest praise concerning Himself, and then we should receive grace from Him. Brothers and sisters, we have to remember that the main thing and the ultimate goal in our prayer is for God to gain glory.
“Your name be sanctified!” God’s name is linked to God’s glory. Ezekiel 36 says, “But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went” (v. 21). This means that the house of Israel had not sanctified God’s name, so God’s name was profaned wherever they went among the heathens. Yet God had pity for His holy name. Our Lord wants us to have this desire. In other words, He wants to glorify His own name through us. God’s name must first be sanctified in our hearts before our desire can be turned to something more profound. There must be a deep work of the cross before we can glorify God’s name. Otherwise, our desire is not even a desire but only an empty idea. Brothers and sisters, this being the case, how much we need to be dealt with and trimmed.
What kind of kingdom is this kingdom? If we read the context in Matthew, we will see that this kingdom refers to the kingdom of the heavens. The Lord teaches us to pray, “Your kingdom come.” This means that the kingdom of God is in heaven, but the kingdom of God is not on earth. Consequently, we have to pray for God to expand the heavenly sphere to the earth. In the Bible God’s kingdom is historical as well as geographical. History has to do with time, while geography has to do with place. According to the Bible, the kingdom of God is more a geographical matter than a historical matter. The Lord said, “If I, by the Spirit of God, cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28). Is this related to history? No, it is something related to geography. The kingdom of God is wherever the Son of God casts out demons. Hence, within this period of time, the kingdom of God is more a matter of geography than a matter of history. Brothers and sisters, if you are filled with a historical concept of the kingdom, you have seen only one side of the truth and not all sides. In the Old Testament, one only finds prophecy concerning the kingdom of the heavens. When the Lord Jesus came, we had the declaration of John the Baptist, who proclaimed that the kingdom of the heavens had drawn near (Matt. 3:1-2). Then the Lord Jesus Himself said that the kingdom of the heavens had drawn near (4:17). They said this because by then there were people who were already of the kingdom of the heavens. By Matthew 13, we have the appearance of the kingdom of the heavens on earth. Today the kingdom of God is wherever God’s children cast the demons and their works out by the Spirit of God. In asking us to pray for His kingdom to come, the Lord is looking forward to the time when God’s kingdom will fill the whole earth.
“Your kingdom come!” This is not only a desire of the church, but also a responsibility of the church. The church should bring in God’s kingdom. In order to bring in God’s kingdom, the church has to pay the price to be restricted by heaven and come under heaven’s rule. It has to be the outlet for heaven, and it has to allow heaven’s authority to be expressed on earth. In order to bring in God’s kingdom, the church has to know all the schemes of Satan (2 Cor. 2:11). It has to put on the whole armor of God and stand against the stratagems of the devil (Eph. 6:11), for wherever the kingdom of God is, the devil is cast out. When the kingdom of God rules on earth fully, Satan will be cast into the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3). Since the church has such a tremendous responsibility, Satan will do all he can to attack the church. May the church pray like the saints of old, “O Jehovah, bow Your heavens down and descend” (Psa. 144:5). “Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down” (Isa. 64:1). At the same time, we should say to Satan, “Depart from the earth immediately, and go to the eternal fire which God has prepared for you” (cf. Matt. 25:41).
(The Prayer Ministry of the Church, Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)