As I was preparing to share about the Bride at a meeting recently, the Holy Spirit was stirring inside of me and revealing something that I found deeply disturbing, and profoundly challenging. I am referring to the ultimate prayer of agreement between Heaven and Earth in Rev 22:17 “The Spirit and the Bride say Come”. This is a very familiar passage, and one I refer to a lot in my ministry because it is a key scripture in understanding the nature of how things will develop in the future. And that is the point, I had only seen this prayer as something that would happen in the future, and not something that the church can pray now. Indeed, as I thought about it I was saddened because I felt within me that I wanted to ask the Lord to return. There was a deep rooted desire calling out for Jesus to come and reign bodily upon the earth and to establish his consummate Kingdom. I was also saddened, because the more I thought about it, the more I realised how little the Bride is praying this prayer. It is of course recited in the Lord’s prayer “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is heaven”, but even then it can be absent of any longing between the Bride and Bridegroom, and do we pray this with the notion of Jesus returning to earth to restore the kingdom, or that the kingdom would be manifest upon the earth through the church? When was the last time we actually asked the Lord to return in glory? Sure, we ask Him to be present with us spiritually, to come to us in our gatherings, but I am talking about coming together for the specific purpose of asking the Lord to return as in His second coming.
Whenever I have taught on this scripture in the past, I have shared that the Spirit has always been saying “come” but the Bride isn’t saying “come” because first she doesn’t know she’s a bride and secondly because she is not yet ready. It was this second point that I felt led to re-question. After all, at the time of an individual’s salvation, we know that often one may not feel able to pray the “sinners” prayer because of an awareness of their own pitiful condition, and would much rather put things right in their life first, when they feel better about themselves. Of course we know that this is not possible because the work of regeneration is only something that the Holy Spirit can do once we surrender our life to the Lord and we ask Him to come into our hearts. This led me to wonder whether in a similar way, by asking the Lord to come again, (which is also part of the salvation process Heb 9:28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.) that it would open a door for the Holy Spirit to move within the bridal church in such a way that would not otherwise occur. Or put another way, by asking Jesus to “come” we are also asking the Holy Spirit to come to the church and help her transform in identity and preparation to become the Bride we read about in Ps 45.
Daughters of kings are among your honoured women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir. Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honour him, for he is your lord. The city of Tyre will come with a gift, people of wealth will seek your favour. All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her— those brought to be with her. Led in with joy and gladness, they enter the palace of the king. Ps 45:9-15 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)]
The more I thought about this, the more excited I became, as though the Spirit within me was dancing because I had suddenly discovered, (not that it was really my discovery), this new key to unlock a wonderful move of the Holy Spirit in assisting the Bride to prepare. And if it was true, that the bridal church must pray this prayer now and not when she thinks she’s ready, then I felt a new call to proclaim this truth as a central part of the Time Out Mission mandate. So I entered into a new season of study and prayer, asking the Lord to hone this message and help me to see what I needed to see, and to discard that which was in error. This led to this series of teaching called “Three Prayers that Only the Bride can Pray”. And in helping to answer the question, can we and should we really be asking the Lord to come now, the emphatic answer is yes! In fact, the final verses of the Bible end in this very prayer by the apostle John – Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. Rev 22:20,21
Can you imagine the regional church gathering together in a time of worship specifically to ask the Lord to return? The atmosphere charged with deep longing as the Bride calls upon the Bridegroom to come. What would happen in such a meeting? How would the Holy Spirit respond? How would the church be changed, and the region impacted when such an event takes place? What an amazing vision. I can think of many reasons why that may not happen, but in each case, does that not highlight the very reason why we should be praying this pray corporately? Even if the Lord’s return is still some prolonged time in the future, is it possible that the bridal church can actually make a difference as to when that day will be? I believe the church can make a difference, as Peter writes “as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Pet 3:12