(Is this Petition Relevant Today?)
by George V Trivandrum
In Mathew Chapter 6 verses 9-13, we have what is generally called as the Lord’s Prayer.” In using this title however we should remember that Jesus never prayed it Himself. It was given to disciples as a model after which they could pattern their prayer. In some Christian groups this prayer is often used, as a matter of routine, without knowing the real meaning of each petition. Out of the seven petitions here, the first three concern the name, kingdom and will of God. The Lord must occupy the highest place, and indeed in our whole lives. The four petitions for ourselves rise by degrees from “bread” up to “deliverance from evil”: teaching us that we ought to grovel in prayer, but to increase in spirituality while we pray. (C H Spurgeon) “Give us this day our daily bread.” Give us necessary food, bread for the day; our own bread, yet thy gracious gift; give it not only to me, but to all of us thy children. Is this petition needed today when our purses are thick, bank balances sufficient, and our store houses and fridges are full with food materials from salad to chicken? There was a time when our fore-fathers and evangelists like George Muller or M E Cherian and many others fully depended on our gracious Lord for each meal? I still remember a time when a friend of mine, was examining the rooftop of their wooden house to check, whether he could get few pieces of dried Tapioca, which was stolen by rats from them. Such was the hard time! Now the situations have changed! Who needs such a prayer when many could join with that fool in Luke 12 who said, “soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry”! (v. 19). Let us examine this Lord’s teaching on the basis of the Scriptures:
“Our daily bread” refers primarily to the supply of our temporal needs. With the Hebrews, bread was a generic term, signifying the necessities and conveniences of this life. (Gen: 3:19; 28:20), such as food, raiment and housing. Inherent in the use of the specific term bread rather than the more general term food is an emphasis, teaching us not to ask for dainties or for riches, but for that which is whole-some and needful. Bread here includes health and appetite apart from which food does us no good. It also takes into account nourishment: for this comes not from the food alone, nor does it lie within the power of man’s will. Hence God’s blessings on it is to be sought. “For every creature of God is good, and on it is nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanks giving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4,5).
Mathew Henry has correctly pointed out that the reason for this request for the supply of our physical needs heads the last four petitions in this prayer is that “our natural well being is necessary for our spiritual well being in the world.” In other words, God grants to us the physical things of this life as helps to discharge of our spiritual duties. And since they are given by Him, they are to be employed in His service, and not for our selfish activities for making money. What gracious consideration God shows toward our weakness: we are unapt and unfit to perform our higher duties if deprived of the things needed for the sustenance of our bodily existence. We may also rightly infer that this petitions comes first, in order to promote the steady growth and strengthening of our faith. Perceiving the goodness and faithfulness of God in applying our daily physical needs, we are encouraged and stimulated to ask for higher blessings (Cf. Acts. 17:25-28).
In begging God to give us our daily bread, we ask that He might graciously provide us with a portion of outward things such as He sees will be best suited to our calling and station. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny Thee and say, Who is Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain (Prov. 30:8,9). If God grants us the superfluities of life we are to be thankful, and must endeavor to use them to His glory; but we must not ask them. “And having food and raiments let us be therewith content. We are to ask for “our daily bread” (1 Tim. 6:8) It is to be obtained not by theft, nor by taking force or fraud what belongs to another, but by our personal labor and industry. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty, open thine eyes and thou shall be satisfied with bread” (prov. 20:13) “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness” (Prov. 31:27) Is this request restricted to our daily bread) No. First we are reminded of our frailty. We are unable to continue in health for twenty four hours, and are unfit for duties of a single day, unless constantly fed from on high. Second, we are reminded of the brevity of our mundane existence. None of us know what a day bring forth, and therefore we are forbidden to boast ourselves of tomorrow (Pro. 27:1) Third, we are taught to suppress all anxious concern for future and to live a day at a time one day at a time. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought of the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6: 34) Fourth, Christ inculcates a lesson of moderation. Finally, observe that our Lord’s word “Give us this day our daily bread” is appropriate for use each morning, where as the expressions, He teaches in Luke 11:3 “Give us day by day our bread” ought be our request every night. Then the question that comes before us is “Do we have family worship (prayer) every morning and evening? Let us all re-confirm this in our lives during this year, to have family alter. Let me conclude this by quoting our Lord’s words from Matthew Chapter 6:25-28 “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: It then came to the ground to pick up a Crum and rising merrily again seemed to repeat its simple song “Mortals, cease from toil and sorrow, God provideth for the morrow.” This greatly comforted the Reformers heart” (C.H. Spurgeon) let us cheer our hearts by reading that delicious song of contentment: Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd is ENOUGH: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge (Ps. 46:11). It is good to sing this twice; it is a truth of which no believer wearies, it is a fact too often forgotten. John Wesley was sick and could not be understood. He attempted to speak. At last, with all his strength he cried. “The best of all is, God is with us.” Again, raising his hand and waving it in triumph, he exclaimed with thrilling effect, “The best of all is, God is with us.” These words seem to express the leading feature of his life. God had been with him from early childhood. His providence had guided him through all the devious wanderings of human life. Now when he was entering the “valley of shadow of death,” the same hand sustained him (Spurgeon: “The Treasury of David”).
Beloved, is the Lord on your side? Is Emmanuel, God with us, Your Redeemer? CL
(An adaptation from the magazine “Vineyard Echoes” a GFTI publication, Chennai, Used by permission)