His disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray... and he said unto them, "When ye pray, say... Thy kingdom come" (Luke 11:1-2).
When they said, "Teach us to pray," the Master lifted His eyes and swept the far horizon of God. He gathered up the ultimate dream of the Eternal, and, rounding the sum of everything God intends to do in the life of man, He packed it all into these three terse pregnant phrases and said, "When you pray, pray after this manner." What a contrast between this and much praying we have heard.
When we follow the devices of our own hearts, how runs it? "O Lord bless me, then My family, My church, My city, My country," and away on the far fringe as we close up, there is a prayer for the extension of His Kingdom throughout the wide parish of the world.
The Master begins where we leave off. The world first, my personal needs second, is the order of this prayer. Only after my prayer has crossed every continent and every far-flung island of the sea, after it has taken in the last man in the last backward race, after it has covered the entire wish and purpose, of God for the world, only then am I taught to ask for a piece of bread for myself.
When Jesus gave His all, Himself for us and to us in the holy extravagance of the Cross, is it too much if He asks us to do the same thing? No man or woman amounts to anything in the kingdom, no soul ever touches even the edge of the zone of power, until this lesson is learned that Christ's business is the supreme concern of life and that all personal considerations, however dear or important, are tributary thereto.
When Robert Moffat, the veteran African missionary and explorer, was asked once to write in a young lady's album, he penned these lines:
My album is a savage breast,
Where tempests brood and shadows rest,
Without one ray of light;
To write the name of Jesus there,
And see that savage bow in prayer,
And point to worlds more bright and fair,
This is my soul's delight.
"And His Kingdom shall have no frontier" (Luke 1:33, the old Moravian version).
The missionary enterprise is not the Church's afterthought; it is Christ's forethought.
--Henry van Dyke