Continuing with our study of the Lord’s Prayer, we’ll be considering, ‘“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12, 13).”’
Because we are so familiar with the Lord’s Prayer we don’t give it the thought it deserves. If you are like me, you will have said it by rote and without much thought. We did’t make it our own heartfelt prayer.
Our prayer was laid bare before the *omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God – the God who knows our wants before we ask Him – the God who supplies all out needs (Matthew 6:28-32).
Every breath we breathe comes to us because of His mercy (Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 116:5). He looks favourably on both the good and the bad, and He blesses all with His common grace (Matthew 5:45). He is an impartial God who favours no man according to his earthly status, wealth, knowledge or wisdom (Matthew 22:16). He is the Judge who judges people ‘according to their deeds’ (Romans 2:6). Without Him there would be no life (John 1:1), no light (Genesis 1:3; John 1:5; 1 John 1:5) and no salvation (Acts 4:12). He is all in all (Colossians 3:11).
Those who know Him and are known by Him (Galatians 4:9) pray as they get on with their daily tasks (Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:8). They seek His help and assurance with their comings and goings, their aspirations and desires. They give Him praise and thanks. For them, and for those who do not believe the gospel, each day is another clean sheet upon which God’s writing appears, either in the book of life (Philippians 4:3) or the book of death (Daniel 7:10; Revelation 20:12). Let there be no doubt, God uses our **prayers, since they have been foreordained.
In our third request, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ we are asking for much more than bread. Bread has been a staple diet since the time man first harvested grain and transformed it into flour. With the controlled use of fire he has been able to bake bread. However, by implication, in our prayer we are asking God for our total daily needs: food, drink, clothing and somewhere safe to live with a roof over our heads, unlike Jesus who had ‘nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20).’
Jesus draws us to another source of refreshment and sustenance with the words He spoke to the devil in the wilderness, ‘“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).”’ The Word of God is life, and He gives us life (John 10:10; 14:6) when we feed on Him (John 6:53- 58).
Our fourth request, ‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors’ might seem a little strange, since those who believe and trust Jesus have already been forgiven their ‘debts’, which in this context equates to ‘sins’. All our sinning, is against God (Psalm 51:4). When we sin against our neighbour we sin against God. He tells us to love our neighbour (Matthew 19:19). When we disobey His commands we sin.
As we have not yet been perfected we frequently sin, but God has given us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we fail, we can come to Him and ask for forgiveness, and know that we are forgiven (1 John 1:9).
The real emphasis is upon our forgiveness of those who sin against us. Peter questioned Jesus about that very thing:
‘Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but up to seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21, 22).”’
If we don’t forgive others, how can we expect to be forgiven? Jesus went on to explain that if we don’t forgive others we will be held accountable to His Father (Matthew 18:23-35). That’s a stern warning (v 38) and a frightening prospect for those who are disobedient.
In our next study (Chapter 5) we shall be considering, ‘“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”’
* The Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence of God