Jesus told his followers: “the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” He could have meant that His very physical presence meant that the Kingdom of God had arrived, OR that they as his followers represented the start of His kingdom, OR that the qualities of the Kingdom of God were in the process of being established in their lives. It is entirely possible that all three of those elements were involved. Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. He responded by giving them a concise example (pattern) for their connection with God. His response has been called: “The Lord’s Prayer.” We may have memorized the words, but many people have never fully unpacked their meaning. The Teach Us To Pray curriculum is a comprehensive attempt to do just that.
Kingdom Builders is the second of three books in this 35-lesson curriculum. It is focused on the words: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” Have you ever reflected on the depth of those words? They are certainly worthy of investigation. In the thirteen lessons in the Kingdom Builders manuals we will help young people discover the kind of Kingdom Jesus came to build.
It is a Kingdom which begins with gratitude for what God has done for us and will do within us. This quality is linked with embracing the humility that Jesus exemplified. He said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” How do we do that? How do we humble ourselves? Jesus was full of grace and truth. The entrance to His Kingdom begins with grace and continues as we embrace and extend His grace. The same is true of “faith.” We must enter by faith and continue our walk with God by faith. As the author of the book of Hebrews said: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” One of the ways we will know that we are in His Kingdom and His Kingdom is “in the midst of you” will be the joy that flows into and out of our lives. The Scriptures tell us: “In His presence is fullness of joy.” The Kingdom Jesus is building is designed to bring us an abundant life. A significant element of that abundance will be found in our fellowship with the others within the Kingdom. All these things impact our approach to God in prayer. His will being done on earth as it is in heaven isn’t automatic. We must cooperate with God in this process. He leads and we follow. Some might describe it as submission or abiding in Christ.
The Lord’s prayer moves on to say: “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” We probably have a good idea of what those phrases mean, but a closer look certainly couldn’t hurt. The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of persistence in prayer and the promises of God to answer our petitions for provision.
We cannot say that we have even begun to understand God’s Kingdom without knowing that it begins and ends with mercy and forgiveness. Jesus never turned away anyone who genuinely asked for mercy. His death on the cross was the ultimate expression of forgiveness. If His heart and His kingdom is going to be built within us, we must embrace those things for ourselves and extend them to others. That is at the heart of the Kingdom Jesus is building.