How to Pray with the End Times in Mind

This article is part of the How to Pray series.

Persevere in Faith

Closely connected to end-time gatherings for the sake of encouraging each other not to grow cold in love, but to persevere in faith, is the summons to end-time praying. For example, Peter writes:

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Pet. 4:7–8, my translation)

The word therefore shows the connection between the second coming and prayer. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore pray!” Be self-controlled and sober (in spirit and body) for the sake of not growing lax in the urgency of prayer.

Come, Lord Jesus

John Piper

John Piper explores Scripture’s command to love the second coming of Christ, and what it is about this event that makes it so desirable. While encouraging Christians to have a genuine longing for Jesus’s presence, Piper addresses pressing questions about the end times. 

Why would Peter think prayer is so urgent as the end draws near? This is what he had heard Jesus say:

Watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. . . . But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34, 36)

The last days will present Christians with such challenges to our faith that we will need extraordinary strength to escape their destructive effects. “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). Both end-time church attendance and end-time prayer are designed by God to supply his people with the power to persevere through the extraordinary threats of the last days. “Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Tim. 3:1). Peter and Jesus unite to tell us: stay sober for the sake of prayer in order to make it through these difficulties.

“Your Kingdom Come”

One of the prayers the Lord Jesus taught us to pray is, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). There are layers of meaning in this request, just as there are layers of meaning in the coming of the kingdom.1 The kingdom comes progressively as the saving reign of Christ is established in the hearts of more and more people (Rom. 5:21; 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; Col. 1:13). But the ultimate fulfillment of “Your kingdom come” is the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth (1 Cor. 15:24; 2 Tim. 4:1).

I infer, therefore, that our prayers for the kingdom to come are prayers that God would not only establish his reign in our own hearts ever more fully, but would also advance his saving work in evangelism and world missions, and that he would bring history to a climax in the coming of Jesus. Hence our end-time prayers include the prayer for “the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38), and that he wrap up history absolutely and come: “Our Lord, come!” (μαράνα θά, maranatha, 1 Cor. 16:22). “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

Hasten the Day: Finish the Mission

Whether we are praying for the progressive advance of world evangelization or for the coming of the Lord Jesus on the clouds, we are in fact praying for God to act so as to bring history to its consummation. Jesus says in Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” I argue that this verse means that the Great Commission will be obeyed to the end of this present age, and when it is completed, Christ will return. Therefore, Matthew 24:14 teaches us that every advance of the gospel is both encouragement that the Lord is nearing, and incentive to “hasten” his coming (2 Pet. 3:12) by giving great energy to world evangelization.

If we love the Lord’s appearing, we will love the advance of his mission toward completion.

I find these words of George Ladd compelling as he presses home the implications of Matthew 24:14 for how we should live until Jesus comes:

Here is the motive of our mission: the final victory awaits the completion of our task. “And then the end will come.” There is no other verse in the Word of God which says, “And then the end will come.” When is Christ coming again? When the Church has finished its task. When will This Age end? When the world has been evangelized. “What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations; and then, AND THEN, the end will come.” When? Then; when the Church has fulfilled its divinely appointed mission.2

But what about the ambiguity of the completion of the task of world missions? Yes, we know that God’s will is that Christ has “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). But what are these various groupings? Ladd responds that this ambiguity is not a hindrance to the urgency of the task:

Someone else will say, “How are we to know when the mission is completed? How close are we to the accomplishment of the task? . . . How close are we to the end? Does this not lead to datesetting?” I answer, I do not know. God alone knows the definition of terms. I cannot precisely define who “all the nations” are. Only God knows exactly the meaning of “evangelize.” He alone, who has told us that this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations, will know when that objective has been accomplished. But I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms of our task; our responsibility is to complete it. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.3

If we love the Lord’s appearing, we will love the advance of his mission toward completion. We will take heart from his promise that the gospel will be preached to all nations, that is, all the people groups (“tribe, language, people, nation”), and we will embrace his command to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). We will seek to share the urgency and clarity of Ladd’s exhortation: “So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.”


  1. See the prelude to part 3 of Come Lord Jesus, “Living between the Two Appearings of Christ,” for a discussion of the various senses in which the kingdom of God comes.
  2. George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), loc. 2084–88, Kindle.
  3. Ladd, Gospel of the Kingdom, loc. 2034–49, Kindle.

This article is adapted from Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ by John Piper.

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