Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who is from all eternity to all eternity, who dwelt among us but is now ascended, and who came to Earth and is coming again in all glory and power!
From talking with many people, it seems that God is leading us as a church to grow in our fellowship with Him through prayer. Sometimes in our prayer life it is difficult to understand how the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer directs and enables Christians to make petitions for themselves and others. How does the Lord’s Prayer guide me when praying for health needs? How does the Lord’s Prayer assist me when praying for safety? Can the Lord’s Prayer be a pattern for me when I am looking for a new job? Does the Lord’s Prayer match up with Scripture telling me to pray for our government? Utilizing the Lord’s Prayer as a guide for all of prayer can prove to be a challenging concept.
A few months ago we considered the 2nd petition, “Thy kingdom come.” We saw from Scripture how this petition was not only a petition for the Lord to return, but even more, a petition for the growth of the kingdom of grace, a petition for the shrinking and destruction of the kingdom of Satan, a petition for the bringing to glory of all the saints, and the list goes on. The 2nd petition of the Lord’s Prayer summarizes in one phrase many petitions that are properly brought before the Lord.
Consider the Ten Commandments. The 6th commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.” Does this mean it is moral then to punch your neighbor? Of course not. The 6th commandment summarizes an entire category of sin in the one commandment. Jeopardizing the physical wellbeing of ourselves or of others, even in non-‐lethal manners, is included within the 6th commandment. Just as the 2nd petition summarizes many prayers, the 6th commandment summarizes many moral duties.
Similar to the 2nd petition and the 6th commandment, when we come to the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” God is again summarizing many petitions into one so as to give us a pattern and direction for our prayer life.
How then can we pray the 4th petition in our daily prayer lives? First, let us consider what is implied on the surface of this petition. So far in the Lord’s Prayer we have been petitioning the Lord for things that apply to Him: “Hallowed by Thy name,” “Thy kingdom come,” “Thy will be done.” Now it changes to “Give us…” Is this a respectable way to approach God?
What does Scripture have to say about this? Consider the manner in which God reveals Himself to us. God tells us: He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness (Psalm 107:9); He will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish (Proverbs 10:3); He gives food to the hungry and frees the prisoners (Psalm 146:7); and He will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Our God has promised to care for us, yet we do not deserve it. So even as we meditate on this petition in accordance with God’s character, knowing by faith that He will provide for all our needs, we are reminded of His marvelous grace, and this leads to the praise the Lord. The Lord is full of mercy, kindness, and compassion He even gives us our daily bread. Praise be to the Lord God.
It is difficult to pray in such a manner without acknowledging with the psalmist, “What is man that You are mindful of Him?” We are reminded of Daniel who acknowledges, “To us belongs confusion of face…because we have sinned against Thee…to the Lord our God belongs mercy and forgiveness…” (Daniel 9:8-‐9). We are unworthy to receive any good thing of the Lord because of our sin. And yet, He has given us much. So the 4th petition also leads us to repentance.
Second, now with this humble acknowledgement of the glory of Christ who provides and the confession of our own unworthiness to receive any provision from the Lord on account of our sin, we may humbly approach our Savior with our needs. We pray for many things: the health of our own bodies, even as Hezekiah prayed; the healing of others; even all of our concerns and cares in this life. These are very broad categories because this petition covers a very broad array of requests. The Lord who cares for the lilies of the field, will He not so much more care for His people?
We have considered four petitions along with the preface to the Lord’s Prayer and we can notice how in each petition there is a pattern that our prayers can take. And that is the pattern of praising God, repenting of our sins and confessing our unworthiness to enter into God’s presence, giving adoration to God who alone is worthy to receive our praise and who has done marvelous works for the children of men, and we yearn with Him for the desires of our heart.
The pattern is very helpful for us especially as we consider the 4th petition. It is easy for us to fall into a pattern of prayer where we simply ask God for item after item and forget to praise Him for who He is and all that He has done for us. As our minds focus on God and His glory we are aided to pray to God in faith for the petitions of our hearts with fuller confidence and boldness to ask because we are praying to the God who has kept us and cared for us; we are praying to the God whose power is beyond all our understanding; we are praying to the God whose mercy is greater than the Heavens; and we are praying to our heavenly Father who demonstrates His care for us day by day.
Brothers and sisters, as we pray to our great God for things agreeable to His will, let us pray with great boldness and confidence with all faith, for He who has commanded us to pray these things has all power to bring to pass the petitions of our heart. And as you see the ever present and bountiful hand of the Lord your God at work, give all glory to God who has not appointed us to wrath but rather to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the Lord!
Almighty and most merciful God
We come before You in the name of Your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ
He who formed the Earth and the Heavens
He who heals all of our diseases
Who forgives all our iniquities
Who showers us with good and protects us from evil
We thank You for Your care and provision for us, a sinful people
We deserve death but You give us life
We deserve poverty but You give us riches
O most merciful God, we thank You for Your goodness to us
And we ask now that You would continue to provide for all our needs
As You have done in the past we ask that You would continue into the future
Provide for us food for our physical nourishment
Provide for us the means to care for our families and ourselves
Provide health for the sick and strength to the weak
In all that You provide us we ask that You would cause us to enjoy and be content in Your provision
And may we faithfully declare Your goodness in our lives to the world around us
In all this we pray that Christ’s name would be exalted
And it is in Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Ben Stahl, Elder