Last week we thought about the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven. This week we take up the aspects of the Lord’s prayer that relate to those who are members of that Kingdom. But first we need to affirm that membership of God’s Kingdom is open for anyone. However, it is far easier to come in simple faith:
Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.Matt. 19.14
…rather than by expecting to be received by bringing our wealth:
it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.Matt. 19. 24
…or by means of theological training:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.Matt 23.13
If we are members of God’s Kingdom, how should we then behave? Following the words of the Prayer, we note the expectation that we shall live:
- by trusting God from day to day, expecting Him to provide for our needs – bread, not cream cakes! We are encouraged to live by faith – not by building big barns to provide us with protection from the hardships of life.
- by acknowledging to God immediately when things go wrong because of our failings, and seeking to put them right – living open, honest lives in fellowship with Him
- by immediately being prepared to forgive other people who upset us either through the small niggles and frustrations we have with them, or even if they let us down by serious breaches of trust
- by not seeking to go where we know we will be tempted to do wrong things – but asking God, if there is no avoiding being there, to protect us from the power that evil forces can have on our lives
In Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus teaches that as we should expect to grow in our spiritual lives. and he expresses several analogies for the Kingdom of Heaven: a mustard seed; yeast; hidden treasure; a sower of good seed; a merchant seeking fine pearls and a fisherman catching all kinds of fish. Living as members of God’s Kingdom will entail an expectation of seeking out God’s values – by means of growth and personal development and seeking an effectiveness in undertaking God’s mission. These explain the value and potential for seeing the fruits of working for the Kingdom.
In summing up the value of this prayer, the New Bible Dictionary notes that:
Someone has rightly said that the Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God summarized in prayer form. It is the prayer which all Christians should regularly offer to God in order to be able to live as His children ever more completely until the day when his sovereignty is perfectly established.IVP 2nd Edition 1982
We can easily take this short prayer for granted, but if we live up to its demands it will have a profound impact on our daily lives.