In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior gave us an example of an effective prayer. Today, we refer to it as the Lord’s Prayer. It was recorded by Matthew (Matthew 6:9–13) and by Luke (Luke 11:1–4), with some differences between the two versions. Jesus also delivered this sermon on the American continent, and so a version of this prayer is also recorded in 3 Ne. 13:9–13.
The Savior opens the prayer by addressing Heavenly Father and expressing the hope that His name will be treated with reverence: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” (3 Nephi 13:9).
He then goes on to express His desire for God’s work to be accomplished. In both of the biblical versions of this prayer, the Savior says, “Thy kingdom come,” and then adds, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The Book of Mormon version omits the first sentence but includes the second.
Some Book of Mormon scholars have suggested that this omission is significant, that the Savior did not say “Thy kingdom come” on the American continent because God’s kingdom had, in fact, already come. (Heather Hardy references five sources for this interpretation in her essay, “‘Saving Christianity’: The Nephite Fulfillment of Jesus’s Eschatological Prophecies,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 23 (2014): 22–55. See footnote 40 on page 52.)
I would like to suggest an alternative interpretation: The omission doesn’t change the meaning, because the two sentences mean the same thing. God’s kingdom will come when His will is done on earth. His kingdom is here to the degree that we submit our will to His.
In 1831, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which the Lord explained how we should prepare for His return to the earth. At the end of that revelation, He explained that the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth is a precursor to the arrival of the kingdom of God from heaven:
Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.
Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come.Doctrine and Covenants 65:5-6
Notice an important detail in this passage. It does not say that the Savior will come down “from” heaven. It says that He will come down “in” heaven. Those on the earth who are living in a heavenly way will be ready to live in that heaven which He will bring with Him.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained:
Crucial for the Lord’s return, is the presence on the earth of a people prepared to receive Him at His coming….
In ancient times, God took the righteous city of Zion to Himself. By contrast, in the last days a new Zion will receive the Lord at His return. Zion is the pure in heart, a people of one heart and one mind, dwelling in righteousness with no poor among them.“Preparing for the Lord’s Return,” General Conference, April 2019
Elder Neil L. Andersen testified that the process of establishing the Lord’s kingdom on the earth is ongoing:
We…live in the glorious time of the Restoration, when the gospel is being taken to all the world—a time when the Lord has promised that He “will raise up … a pure people” and arm them “with righteousness and with the power of God….”
We rejoice with Christians all over the world in His glorious Resurrection and in our own promised resurrection. May we prepare for His coming by rehearsing these glorious events over and over in our own minds and with those we love, and may His prayer be our prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”“Thy Kingdom Come,” General Conference, April 2015
Today I will pray for God’s kingdom to come—for more people to align their will more fully with His. I will do what I can to prepare myself and others for the Savior’s return to the earth, so that we will be able to receive Him when He comes.