From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Seven, Day Four
The world has never seen a king like Christ, a ruler mightier than any earthly sovereign and more powerful than the unseen powers of the universe. Though he entered the world humbly, as an infant born in Bethlehem, Magi from the east still recognized him as the newborn king. Though his reign unfolds in hidden ways, he has promised to come again, at which time he will reveal himself unambiguously as "King of kings and Lord of lords." When you pray to Jesus, the King of kings, call to mind his mastery not only over human beings but over nature, disease, and death itself.
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords. Revelation 19:16
Praying the Name
Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!' or ‘Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Luke 17:22-25
Praise God: Because he is a perfect Ruler.
Offer Thanks: That Christ has promised to come again.
Confess: Any complacency in your relationship with Christ.
Ask God: To stir up your longing for his coming again in glory.
King Farouk of Egypt once wryly predicted the end of his reign, remarking that "in a few years there will be only five kings in the world — the king of England and the four kings in a pack of cards."2 But Farouk, the last real king of Egypt, was leaving out the greatest King of all. This year as Christmas approached, I wanted to avoid making the same mistake. But what does Christmas have to do with acknowledging Jesus as King? In many churches throughout the world, Advent is observed as a season in which we prepare spiritually to celebrate Christ's first coming. It is also a season to prepare our hearts for his second coming, when every knee will bend and every tongue will confess that he indeed is King and Lord.
I wanted to find a way to make Advent a central part of our family's celebration of Christmas. To do this, I had to make some practical decisions. A few years ago, I was surprised to learn that my grandparents never trimmed their Christmas tree until the night before Christmas.
Apparently, it was a common practice back then. So that was the first order of business. Resist the urge to decorate and shop and party as though Christmas had arrived the day after Thanksgiving. No more nonstop Christmas music. No more franticness. Let the season's meaning unfold in calmness.
Despite the protests of my children who saw everyone else's decorations going up, I was determined that Advent would not become an endangered species in our house. I did allow them one concession, but it played perfectly into my Advent scheme. I made the traditional candy house, the delectable one my mother had made for me as a child, placing it as always in a prominent spot in the living room. And as always I reminded them of rule number one: no eating — not one bite — until Christmas morning. There were the usual murmured complaints, but I knew my children were learning the Advent discipline of waiting with eager expectation.
For my part, I made no superhuman efforts to observe the season, but simply made sure I finished most of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. Then I prayed a little more. In the morning and evening I read Scriptures that expressed a longing for the Messiah, for peace on earth, for captives to be set free, for the lion and lamb to lie down together. I read about the Bright Morning Star and the Light of the World. And I read the news — the kidnappings, the beheadings, the battles, the political wrangling, and the poisoning of a political opponent. I read about the man in a wheelchair who had frozen to death in our city because of people's carelessness — and I interceded with anguish for Christ to set things right, to bring justice and peace, forgiveness and mercy. I prayed with longing and tears that he would come with his power and his wisdom to reign over us.
Christmas is now two days away. Advent is nearly past. I am glad for the baby born in Bethlehem, but I am longing for the greatest of kings. I see how broken the world is, how broken I am, without him. As I have prayed in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I find my thoughts returning to the day in which the World Trade Towers collapsed. I remember sitting in a hospital room with my daughter, who was about to undergo a medical test. We sat transfixed in front of the TV, watching as New York came under attack — planes crashing, people jumping out of buildings, the city devastated. We watched the Pentagon burning. It seemed surreal, so sudden and impossible — the financial heart and the power center of the greatest country on earth both under attack. Like everyone else who watched, it changed our perception of the world completely.
Since then, I have not found it difficult to believe in Christ's sudden coming. In an instant, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet — the dead will be raised imperishable and we will all be changed, and the greatest of all kings will ascend his throne. Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus!
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.