“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 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 also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)
Yesterday we learned that before we can present our requests to God we must first approach God with humility and reverence. Today Jesus teaches us to pray for three things: sustenance, forgiveness, and protection.
Firstly, Jesus teaches us to ask God to give us what we need to survive (bread). It is God who sustains our lives through the earth [Genesis 1:29, 9:3]. While it may seem obvious and mundane, He cares about the health and well-being of our bodies. Jesus evidenced this with each of His many miraculous healings and His feeding of the 5,000 [Mark 8:22-25; John 6:1-11 et. al].
And while those of us in the Western world rarely go hungry, much of the world lives day-to-day. That was certainly true of the people Jesus is speaking to here. Nevertheless, God wants us to rely upon Him daily. We should not presume about tomorrow but instead seek provision from God for today only [Proverbs 27:1; James 4:13-16]. Every day that we are alive is the result of God’s blessing. When we seek only enough for the moment we are demonstrating our reliance upon God as well as faith that He will take care of us tomorrow, next week, and next year.
Secondly, Jesus teaches us to ask God to forgive our sins (debts). Sin is a spiritual debt owed to God. And even though a child of God is fully forgiven of his/her sins, it is not inappropriate to ask for forgiveness along the way. God is continually forgiving us. This is something He is willing and pleased to do. God’s grace exists in higher quantity than our sin [Romans 5:20].
It is important for us to recognize that fact. There is no reason for us to be burdened by our sins. But keeping the fact that we sin in mind keeps us humble. We tend to sin more when we fail to remind ourselves that we are sinners.
But notice that we are also to forgive others as a prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness. Jesus will have more to say about this tomorrow.
Finally, we are to petition God to keep us from temptation and deliver us from the evil surrounding us. God does not tempt anyone [James 1:13]. What Jesus is teaching here is we are to ask God to protect us from situations that could lead us to sin because we are aware of our own weakness and propensity to give in to temptation. We cannot fight Satan and his schemes without help from our heavenly Father [Ephesians 6:12; James 4:7].
Notice the time sequence of these three petitions. We pray over our present (daily bread), our past (debts) and future (lead us not). There is never a time when we are on our own. God is always available to us.
The purpose of prayer is not to inform God what He doesn’t know. Jesus was God. The fact that He teaches us to pray these things is evidence in itself that God knows what we need. Rather, the purpose of prayer is to change us. When we pray the way Jesus taught us to over the past two days we are affirming God’s power and sovereignty in our lives. We are also admitting our weakness and need to rely on Him.
The purpose of prayer is to exalt God and humble us.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.