John Hannah said, “The end of prayer is not so much tangible answers as a deepening life of dependency…The call to prayer is a call to love, submission, and obedience … the avenue of sweet, intimate, and intense fellowship of the soul with the infinite Creator.”
Petition for God’s Provision
To ask God to give us our daily bread may seem out of place for many today. Most in the Western world don’t have to worry about this, but those in third-world countries—and more than we may know even in the Western world—are not so fortunate.
The ghost of Christmas present gave Ebenezer Scrooge a glance of such poverty in Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol when he showed him people living on the streets and then opened his robe and showed him two gaunt children.
In 2001 and 2002, we witnessed poverty in Afghanistan due to a corrupt ruling body and also because of America’s bombing of that country for their participation in the September 2001 terrorist attacks. We saw it in 1993 in Somalia before the intervention of the United Nations. Multitudes starved and died every day. The news media was filled with pictures of these people, many too weak to get to the food sources and others covered with flies.
During starvation, the body begins to feed on itself. The resulting disease is called kwashiorkor, and it comes from a protein deficiency. Our bodies feed on fats and carbohydrates for about forty days, but then begins to feed on itself. This disease is common in the third world. This may also be the reason fasts don’t last more than forty days.
While many know nothing of having to pray for daily bread, those Jesus spoke to did have to worry. Bread refers to our daily food, but to all of our physical needs.
John Stott said to Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, “Everything necessary for the preservation of this life is bread, including food, a healthy body, good weather, house, home, wife, children, good government, and peace.”
It is wonderful to know God is concerned about our physical needs. He is the creator and controller and is very busy but is concerned about us and obligates himself to care for us.
This part of prayer is petition and affirmation. We affirm our belief God will supply our needs. James writes, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (1:17).
God is the source of all our blessings, and we owe everything to him. No matter how much we might work for what we have, ultimately we owe God for what we have. Regardless of how many talents or gifts we have, we owe God for those. God prepared the Garden of Eden for humans before they were created.
When asking God for our daily needs, we are recognizing he has supplied our needs in the past, is doing so in the present, and will do so in the future. We make the request with confidence. Although God only obligates himself to meet the needs of his children, he also meets the needs of unbelievers through his common grace.
We also have a part in meeting our daily needs. God usually supplies through our part in working. According to Paul, if a person does not work (not referring to those who want to work but cannot find work or those who have physical or mental disabilities), they should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Both God and we both have a responsibility. God made the earth to produce, but we have abilities to start that process.
We make this petition one day at a time. We content ourselves with God’s goodness and faithfulness of today with confidence he will repeat it tomorrow. This doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t prepare for the future through savings and retirement options.
The prayer is not just for us. We are to pray that all people will have their daily bread. This involves praying for their salvation.
Petition for God’s Pardon
We must ask God to forgive our sins even as we forgive those who sin against us.
Debt is one of five words used for sin. Sin is also characterized as missing the mark, slipping or falling, stepping across the line, and lawlessness.
We have a spiritual debt to God for our sins. Sin makes us susceptible to disease, illness, evil, unhappiness—now and in eternity. Sin is the common denominator of the many manifestations or acts of sin we see daily.
As Christians, we have been given a new nature, but we still struggle with the temptations of our humanness. God takes care of forgiving all of our sins at salvation, we still need daily assurance from God that our sins are forgiven. We need to daily confess and agree with God about our failures.
As we have been forgiven, we are to forgive. How can we refuse when Christ has forgiven us? Forgiveness demonstrates our relationship with God. It is the highest virtue we can have. When we don’t forgive, we won’t have happiness or peace.
Petition for God’s Protection
We pray for God to help us not yield to temptation and that he would deliver us from the evil one.
The root meaning of temptation has to do with testing or proving. God does not tempt; neither is he tempted.
We must avoid the danger and trouble sin creates. This involves a desire to escape all prospects of falling into sin. Trials help us grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, but we don’t want to be in a position where the possibility of sin is increased.
We appeal to God to watch over our eyes, ears, mouth, feet, and hands. A paraphrase might read, “Lord, don’t even lead us into a trial that will present such a temptation that we will not be able to resist it.”