The Lord’s Prayer – Part 7 “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” (Matt. 6:9-15)
Whenever we come to God in prayer we begin by acknowledging his heavenly majesty and power. That is why we say “Our Father in Heaven”. We know he is holy and transcendent, but we have personally experienced his fatherly kindness. By sending his Son, the Father made a way for us to be adopted into his family. Through faith in Jesus we pray as children to a Father.
When we say “Hallowed be Your name” we enter into a season of adoration. We declare and appreciate God’s attributes. We offer our praise to God as well as our desire for him to remove anything that detracts from his glory.
Praying “Your kingdom come” implies that we know there is a kingdom of evil that is in opposition to God’s kingdom. We want to see the kingdom of evil destroyed as God’s kingdom is established. We know that hope will be fulfilled upon Christ’s return. But for now, we pray for the advancement of his kingdom in this world and the purification of his kingdom in the Church.
The third petition is regarding the will of God. So we first have to admit that we are not only unable to know God’s will, but we are unwilling to do it as well. We need God’s help to remove our rebellion and enable our obedience to know and do according to his will.
This afternoon, we turn to the fourth petition which teaches us to pray for our daily bread.
Read Matt. 6:9-15
WLC 193. WHAT DO WE PRAY FOR IN THE FOURTH PETITION?
In the fourth petition, (which is, Give us this day our daily bread,) acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, nor we to merit, or by our own industry to procure them; but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the sue of lawful means, may, of his free gift, and as to his fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort.
WHAT WE DESERVE
Once again, the Westminster divines chose to begin with the negative. We want to acknowledge the effects of original sin that we inherited from Adam, as well as our own sin that we have personally committed. The effect as it relates to our “daily bread” is that, by our sin, we have forfeited our right to “all the outward blessings of this life.” Is that counter-cultural or what? We no longer have a right to any blessings. We cannot demand that God bless us with anything, even if we know that it is good for us. Asking God for our daily bread admits that we have not earned it.
Instead of deserving a blessing from God, we actually deserve that all of our outward works receive a curse from God. We deserve to work by the sweat of our brow for the rest of our life and only reap thorns (Gen. 3:17). This corruption of God’s good creation is evidenced by the groaning of creation (Rom. 8:20-22). Life is vanity and futility as the preacher in Ecclesiastes argued. We “deserve to be wholly deprived” of God’s outward blessings because of sin should not be rewarded. In fact, the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). So anything less than immediate death is common grace. For our ongoing disobedience the only thing we deserve is God’s curse upon all that we have and do.
When Jacob learned that Esau was coming his way, he became fearful that his brother would take vengeance upon him for deceiving Esau out of his birthright and blessing. When he prayed to God he acknowledged that he had not earned the blessings he had received (Gen. 32:10). He did not merit any of God’s blessings. But, he asked for the Lord to be merciful and deliver him out of the hands of Esau.
We must also keep in mind that it is not our own strength and might that procures God’s blessings (Deut. 8:17-18). Everything we have comes from his gracious hand. We have the ability to do our work, because he has blessed us with certain knowledge and skills. Just because we earn a paycheck from our employer doesn’t mean we earned that paycheck from God.
When we know what we deserve, it should have an impact upon…
WHAT WE SEEK
The wilderness generation suffered hunger in order that they might know that they needed more than bread to sustain them. Bread alone would not provide for them the guidance that they needed. They needed to learn, by their hunger, to trust in the God whose words provide superior sustenance (Deut. 8:3). If they had understood this properly they would not have been filled with so much grumbling. The way they sought their water and food was deserving of condemnation. And God did judge them for their wickedness.
We should admit that what we desire is oftentimes mixed with impurities. We are “prone to desire, get, and use” God’s blessings unlawfully. Everyone covets (Jerusalem. 6:13). All kinds of evil proceeds from our hearts (Mk. 7:21-22). James writes that we do not get what we ask for because we ask for things in order to satisfy our lusts (Jam. 4:3).
We can oftentimes come before God with impure motives asking for things that will allow us to trust him less. For instance, financial blessings can make us feel less dependent upon God. If we are prone to anxious worry about the future (Phil. 4:6), we might want a larger amount in our savings account. Instead of repenting of our worry we sacrifice time with our family in order to alleviate our fears. But, in that case we are actually trusting in money rather than God.
With those humble acknowledgements we can begin to pray for ourselves and others. We pray that we would continue to trust in God and wait upon his providence. We can pray for blessings and continue to pursue the lawful use of the means he has freely provided. And we can trust that God’s “fatherly wisdom” will give us what we need, when we need it.
There are several ways in which our actions will prove that our trust is in him. Like Jacob, we can follow through on our vow to give to God’s kingdom work. Because God has provided an abundance of blessings we want to show our gratitude by giving back to him. We should also go about our work with integrity and honesty not compromising God’s law in order to get ahead in life (Eph. 4:28). If we can work, we should work (2 Thess. 3:11-12). We should not become lazy, allowing the government or family to take care of our necessities.
In addition to asking God to provide outward blessings to us, we want to ask that we would use them for holy purposes. We want to be generous with our possessions. We want to receive our blessings with grateful hearts and not be ashamed to enjoy them. We should not feel an obligation to make everything fair. If you get a raise at work, you can thank God for that even though your colleagues didn’t get a raise. You are not obligated to refuse blessings because others have been neglected. And if you are the one neglected, you can trust that God has a purpose behind that too.
We must learn to be content in plenty and in want (Phil. 4:11). We ought to be satisfied if we can live a godly life with nothing but food and clothing (1 Tim. 6:6-8). God can still use you, and you might even be less hindered to honor God if you possess less. There is wisdom in asking for contentment with whatever we already have:
Proverbs 30:8-9 “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
As we have done previously, I would like to close by modeling how we might pray for the Lord to graciously “Give us this day our daily bread.”