Many people in Christendom tend to recite the Lord's prayer without really thinking about what they are saying. And from the way they say it, it seems that most Christians behave as though what the prayer says is not as important as the fact that God is somehow pleased simply because they repeat the prayer word for word. But, it was Jesus who taught that, "when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do, for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7). When people utter the Lord's prayer without consciously thinking about what they are saying, they are literally repeating words that have no meaning to them while vainly thinking that God actually hears such prayers simply because they spoke the words.
However, a prayer is something that is said from the heart. It is either a plea to our Father in heaven for something we want or is the giving of thanks for something He's done for us. In either case, it is something we truly desire and are sincere about. And that applies to praying to God that His kingdom will come on earth.
Among the many Christian denominations, there are various teachings about what this means. The most commonly held belief is that Jesus was telling His disciples to pray for the day when Christ will appear in power and glory from heaven and then establish His kingdom here on earth. Other's teach that this is a spiritual awaking that Jesus was referring to where the kingdom of God comes on earth "within you" (Luke 17:21). Still others claim that their church is the kingdom Jesus spoke of that is to be set up on the earth. However, there are those who reject this view because they feel that the kingdom of heaven is ruled over by God while an earthly church is ruled over by men.
If a prayer is a heartfelt plea to God and Jesus taught us to pray for God's kingdom to come then it's important that we not only mean it when we utter those words but, more importantly, that we understand what it is we are praying for. So the question that needs to be answered is: What did Jesus mean when He asked us to pray for God's kingdom to come?
In order to answer that question we first need to understand what a kingdom is. The dictionary defines this word as: "A country ruled by a king" (The American Heritage Dictionary). What the word "kingdom" actually means is: "A king's domain," and a "king" is defined as "a male ruler."
It is interesting to note that throughout the scriptures Jesus and God are referred to as being a "king." Therefore, the "kingdom of heaven" is that country or place where God is the king. And if that is so, then God must be a male because otherwise he would simply be referred to as a ruler. But the fact that He is always referred to as a king and the scriptures repeatedly tell us there is a "king"dom in heaven tells us that God our Father must be a male Person.
Furthermore, the Kingdom of heaven is also a "theocracy," which means "a government with God as the ruling authority or power." A democracy is a form of government that is ruled by a majority vote. A monarchy is a form of government that is ruled by one person. A theocracy is a form of government where God is the one who rules and has power and authority over all those who are subject to Him. Thus, the kingdom of God is a theocratic form of government where those within it are required to obey and submit themselves to the rules, decrees, edicts, demands, and wishes of God, the King, in the same way citizens of any country must obey and submit themselves to the rules, decrees, and demands of whatever governing power they live under, whether it be a monarchy, dictatorship, democracy, or tribal council.
With this understanding we now know that what Jesus asked us to pray for is that the government of God that presently exists in heaven will someday come to earth and be established here. But will it happen only when Christ comes again, will it happen spiritually within the life of each person who accepts Christ, or will it happened physically through the establishment of some sort of church organization? So, the question still remains: What exactly was Jesus asking us to pray for?
Before we can determine the answer to that question we first have to understand what a theocracy is. Many Christian faiths believe that their church is a theocracy on the basis that they are following the words of God as recorded in the Bible. Thus, to their way of thinking, God rules in their life because they are following His written laws. But there are several flaws with this reasoning.
The first is that although all governments must have some kind of written laws, yet laws do not make a government - people do. It is people who enact the laws, and then amend or abolish them according to their will. In the same way, even though the Bible contains God's laws, the Bible is not the kingdom of heaven. It is merely the expression of what the government of God requires us to do. If that were not true then we could say that the kingdom of heaven is already on the earth because we already have its laws as contained in the Bible.
To say that we have a theocracy simply because we follow what is written in the Bible is like saying we have a democracy simply because our founding fathers left us a Constitution. But governments don't exist because people follow the laws of rulers who have long since died. The only way any government can be effective is if there are living rulers at the head of it. Therefore, there has to be some sort of president or a congress to oversee the implementation of our Constitution if we are to have a government. And, in the same way, in order for God's kingdom to exist on earth the heavenly King has to be personally in charge of conducting the affairs of His kingdom.
The second reason why we need more than just written laws is because someone has to administer them.
Perhaps we can understand this principle better by looking at how earthly governments work. Although the President of the United States governs the affairs of America in conjunction with two houses of Congress, yet he is nonetheless the chief administrator. As such he wields considerable governing power.
However, he can't do everything by himself so he has created several cabinet level positions to assist and advise him in the performance of his duties. These include such departments as Defense, Education, Commerce, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Home Land Security, Energy, Labor, Health and Human Services, and others. In addition to these he oversees such organizations as the Office of Budget and Management, the Environmental Protection Agency, Drug enforcement, the Federal Reserve, Welfare, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, the IRS, and many other agencies.
Each of these departments are further broken down into smaller units, starting from the Federal level and going down to the state and local level. This kind of structure is known as a hierarchy or chain of command and is designed to provide supervised administration of the laws. In this way the President of the United States can assure that his orders are being correctly implemented throughout the entire country.
To understand how this works, let's suppose someone wants to receive Social Security money from the government. The first thing they must do is apply for it. This can be done at a local Social Security office where they will meet someone who has been locally hired to process applicants in their area. But what gives that worker the right to give away the government's money is that they have been authorized by the government to act in their behalf according to certain rules, regulations, and guidelines. Therefore, when they follow those rules then whatever decision they make is considered to be valid and approved of by the government.
However, each worker has a supervisor who oversees their work to make sure that the decisions made are in accordance with the rules that the government has allowed. Above these supervisors is yet another layer of supervision that likewise makes sure the people under them are following the authorized instructions and orders. And so it goes all the way to the President of the United States.
It is in this way that one man can effectively ensure that his orders, decrees, edicts and wishes are being properly carried out no matter how many people he governs. However, without such a system of supervision it become almost impossible to make sure anyone is properly following the commands of the president.
Although God's abilities are far superior to any man yet He nonetheless governs through the use of an organization known as a church. When Jesus was on the earth He declared that He was going to set up His church (Matthew 16:18) and indeed a "church" was established that had an organized hierarchy (1 Corinthians 12:28). This organization was known as "the church of God" (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 11:16; 2 Corinthians 1:1: 1 Timothy 3:5) or the church of Christ (Romans 16:16).
The purpose for having such a structured organization was to "oversee" those who belonged to it in order to make sure that the work of the ministry was being carried out, that the saints were being properly perfected and that they were being taught correct doctrine (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:12). And the way this happens is that the church of God contains a system of supervisors who ensure that the commands of God are being properly followed throughout His entire kingdom. And at the head of this organization of supervisors is Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 5:23; Colossians 1:18) who oversees the entire church.
Yet, without such an organization it becomes impossible to make sure that there is a unity of faith among all those who accept Christ as their Savior (Ephesians 4:13). Thus, to have a theocracy God needs to be personally in charge of directing a system of supervisors who have been authorized by Him to ensure that His commands are being properly followed by all those who claim to accept His rule and acknowledge Him as their King.
And this provides us with yet another reason why there cannot be a theocracy if the Bible is our only source of direction. Today there are tens of thousands of different Christian denominations in the world and what makes each of them different is that they understand the Bible differently from one another. Even among those who consider themselves to be biblical scholars - people who devote their life to diligently studying and sincerely seeking to understand it's message - there are deep disagreements over the meaning of what God has written.
The fact that even these people cannot come to a unified understanding of what the Bible teaches clearly illustrates that among the various denominations none of them recognize the other as having any final authority to officially speak for God and thereby resolve their disputes. In fact, only a very small number of these churches even claim to have any such authority. As a result, instead of having order and unity in the church of God, we have chaos and confusion. However, under a true theocracy, where God is not only the head of the church but is controlling it, such a condition could not exist because God either would personally correct the problem or authorize someone to do so in His place, just as happens in any other government.
So what we see in the Christian churches today is not a theocracy but an ecclesiocracy, which is defined as "rule by the church." The difference between these two forms of government is that one is a church system ruled over by men while the other is a church organization that is personally ruled over by God. To rephrase this distinction, in a true theocracy God is personally involved in directing the affairs of the church and ensuring that His laws are being followed. However, in an ecclesiocracy it is the church officials who decide how to interpret God's word. Therefore they have taken it upon themselves to set up their own church organization according to their own understanding and then declare themselves to be the supreme ruling authority of what God wants us to know and do.
When Jesus asked us to pray for God's kingdom in heaven to come what He was asking us to pray for is the time when there would be a true theocracy established here on earth just as there is in heaven. While that will certainly happen when Christ comes again in power and glory, yet it already happened in the days of Jesus. Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ taught the people of their day to repent saying that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). Their message was that people needed to repent now because the kingdom of God was about to be established on the earth. And it was shortly after that when Jesus did established His church where He personally presided and ruled over it.
As such, the Church of God is God's kingdom, whether it's in heaven or on the earth, for two reasons. The first is that it is the means by which people pledge their allegiance to God as their ruler and King and willing agree to abide by His rules, orders, commands, and edicts as all citizens agree to do with their respective governments. It should be noticed that when Jesus told His disciples that they should pray for God's kingdom to come He immediately followed that by saying that we should pray, "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." Jesus reiterated this point when He said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
It is clear from these and other scriptures that the way we enter into the kingdom of heaven is by willingly submitting ourselves to the will of God, and that is just as true on earth as it is in heaven. Therefore, the way God's kingdom will come to earth is when those on earth obey Him in the same way He is obeyed in heaven and it is through the medium of a church organization that God rules over His loyal subjects.
Secondly, the Church is God's kingdom because it is His authorized system of supervision by which He ensures that the work of His ministry, the perfecting of His saints, and the edifying of those who belong to His church is properly carried out. Since there are tens of millions of people who profess a belief in and a commitment to Christ, there has to be some way to make sure that all of them are not only properly instructed on how to follow God's commands but that they are indeed properly following God's will.
And this becomes even more essential when we consider that as humans we are highly imperfect, spiritually immature, and so prone to misunderstandings. Therefore, without a system of authorized supervision all the way from Christ Himself down to the newest believer, there could be no order or unity among the citizens of God's kingdom. And, if fact, that is exactly why we see thousands of different Christian denominations in the world today because no one recognizes any authority over them except the Bible, which has no ability to administer and enforce its own laws.
However, such is not the case with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They do not believe that God only talks to mankind through His written word but instead, believe that God still communicates with man through living prophets as He did anciently. These men receive divine direction personally from God Himself and, as His mortal representatives, He holds them accountable for properly communicating His will to mankind.
However, they do not fulfill their duties by themselves. Instead, they preside over an organization that has a divinely authorized system of supervisors or overseers who are responsible for watching over each member of Christ's church to ensure that the work of the ministry, the perfecting of the saints, and the edifying of the church is properly done, not according to the ideas of some man or a committee of men, but according to the will of God as He personally communicates it to them. Under such a system of government the LDS Church can rightly be called a theocracy.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God's kingdom will come, He was saying, in effect, that we should pray that the same theocratic form of government that exists in heaven will likewise exist on earth where the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven. In that way the gospel will be properly proclaimed throughout the world and people will be properly instructed on how to accept and submit themselves to Christ's authority. And as more people around the world accept the gospel and live according to God's commandments then the true Church of God will spread until it fills the entire earth. And when that happens, our prayers will be answered when we pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."