COME (Our Father, Word by Word)

April 12, 2011 | 10 comments

Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom


This is one of the simplest, oldest prayers of the Church. It’s used by Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth, and is usually translated as: “Come, O Lord.” Come.

When I first pondered this, I was struck by the power and the beauty of this simple phrase. From the Creed, we know that the Lord will come again in glory. As Abbot Joseph Homick points out in his excellent book How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place: Lifting the Veils on the Presence of God, the petition for the Kingdom to come is one “through which we long for the end of suffering and sorrow and the beginning of the eternal life of peace and joy in the unveiled presence of God, with all his holy ones.”

How lovely! What a pleasant thought!

And then I realized something that made this simple prayer take a more serious turn: To pray for the Kingdom to come means something for me. It’s not just a concept. It’s not just a nice thing that I might passively experience. It requires something on my part.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” says John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” Jesus preaches repeatedly, beginning in Matthew 4:17. And the Lord continues:

“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

“No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

In the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians, Paul says that those who don’t obey the Gospel will be punished when the Lord’s Kingdom comes.


When I think about these passages from the Scriptures, I no longer see that beautiful maranatha prayer as a request that requires God to act while I sit around and soak up the goodness. It is indeed beautiful, but it carries with it a weighty question: Am I really ready, right now, for God’s Kingdom to come?


What are your thoughts? What else can we learn from “Come”?


  1. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    For me, one of the most interesting angles is the way “kingdom come” has entered slang absent its Christian context. The phrase is used to mean something like “infinitely far away” or “forever.” I wonder if that takes the edge off the intimidating nearness you described, even when it’s used in a purely Christian context.

  2. Claire

    I agree, “come” does imply a weighty question. Am I ready? Whenever I’ve pondered that question, my first thought is an immediate “no!” No, I can’t be ready – I have so far to go! It is a good reminder that this world is not the end, our purpose here is far greater. And we need to be prepared, in that we live our lives according to His will each day. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing easy about that for me.

  3. Kimberlie

    I think I have always felt a mixture of happy anticipation and fear at that phrase “Thy Kingdom come” because on the one hand, how marvelous a day that will be. On the other hand, oh my word, I see how incredibly flawed and imperfect my faith is, and well, I am a bit comfortable right where I am, but I’d have to grow, be more mature, and actually take responsibility, and what if I am not ready?

    Jen, thank you for this wonderful series. Each word has brought me a nugget to ponder and help me go deeper in my relationship with Christ.

  4. Kris, in New England

    I’m more of a literal person so when I think of the word “come” in a Godly-sense, and apply it to my life, I get this:

    God called my husband and I to come back to church, to come join Him, to hear His word – to come and join the land of the living.

  5. AgnesRegina

    Awesome. I love that you’re doing this series. I’ll never look at the Pater Noster the same way again. 🙂

  6. The Ranter

    This word gave me a chance to reflect upon the death of my mom.

  7. Sanya@marshalfirth

    As I am reading your blog I remembered a line from the famous book Purpose Driven Life that Life is a temporary assignment. And that earth is only a temporary residence for us and we are here because God are preparing us for his kingdom in heaven.

  8. Sanya@marshalfirth

    As I am reading your blog I remembered a line from the famous book Purpose Driven Life that Life is a temporary assignment. And that earth is only a temporary residence for us and we are here because God is preparing us for his kingdom in heaven.

  9. Billy Critcher

    I have read a few good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to make such a great informative site.

  10. Nanci K.

    I remember during my years as an evangelical Christian that I always wanted the Lord to wait just a bit before he came back- leaving enough time for me to marry, have kids, get successful, etc. I then went through a time of hoping he would just come back ASAP in order to not have to go through hard stuff.
    After coming home to The Catholic Church 2 1/2 years ago, I finally figured out that the kingdom of God that we pray for in the Our Father doesn’t have to be some distant future thing but may be here and now.
    Not an easy thing to figure out, but with all the help The Church gives us- the sacraments, the Tradition and Scripture, we can keep praying and hoping that we are ready for His kingdom to come.

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