We continue our study of the Lord’s Prayer. I draw heavily from Dr. Zacharias Ursinus’ Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism for this. I find his exposition of this topic thorough and enlightening. Let us go through his explanation of the second three petition as well as the conclusion.
The fourth to six petitions are concerns for provision and protection for both our bodies and souls. The previous three petitions deal with God and his kingdom and now the second three petitions deal with us and our physical and spiritual needs. The ordering of our priorities from God to us points to greater need for God’s rule. It exposes our dependence on God. We for live God and rely on him of everything including our strength and fresh grace.
This morning we will hear God’s Word preached in two sermon points: 1) The Second Three Petitions; 2) The Conclusion. The second three petitions are: A) Provision for Daily Bread; B) Forgiveness of our sins; 3) Protection from Present and Future Evils.
Before we begin, let us pray…
The Second Three Petitions
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.verses 11-15 (ESV)
Jesus moves to the next set of petitions which includes provision and protection both for our body and soul. This validates the goodness of creation and our physical needs not only our spiritual concerns. Jesus wants us his disciples to ask God as our Father even for our temporal needs. Treated as trivial by some but as Christians, praying for our daily needs is part of our daily desire. Yes, God knows what we need before we even ask him but He also wants us to desire them from God in order that we can properly glorify him for it.
The fourth petitions asks God to give us this day our daily bread. The previous petition prays for God and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This ordering shows us that in order to fulfill his will we also need to pray for the strength to do it. God commands and He also provides the grace we need to obey.
What are we to pray for in this petition? Jesus says we petition for bread. Now, bread here is used to represent all our temporal needs. According to Ursinus, it is a synecdoche (suh-nek-duh-kee). It is metaphor used for a part to represent the whole. Bread is used in ancient times as a primary source for food and sustenance. Jesus’ audience understands his reference to bread means daily provision.
As Christians, we pray for our daily provision. We petition for it after we have asked God’s will to rule over all our lives and praying for food, as a means to sustain our temporal needs, is part of God’s will for us. We pray for all our needs. We pray for food, shelter, clothing and protection. Jesus wants us to desire them properly in other to understand our daily dependence on God. The petition specifically says we pray for this day our daily bread. This means we acknowledge before God our day to day needs and pray for them appropriately. Simply put: we pray daily because we have daily needs. Jesus in his wisdom designs our pray in order this way because we are dependent beings.
Before ending the exposition of this petition, Ursinus asks if it is proper to pray we get rich. He also asks if it is also wise to safe for our future needs aside from our daily needs. To both questions, Ursinus affirms but He made sure we qualify them properly.
There is a communal part in this petition that when we pray for our needs, we pray not only for our personal and individual needs but also for the provision to sustain the needs of those who are under our care. We pray for OUR daily needs. We petition for the provision of our household. We serve the needs of those who are also dependent on us. Yes, we must warn each other about the dangers of prosperity and how riches make a person proud and foolish. But properly viewed as means to serve the needs of our other, we can pray to God to prosper the work of our hands and to bless us with provision that will sustain the needs of those who depend on us. This also validates the need for saving up for future needs. As Christians, we do not our hopes in earthly treasures but it is most wise to think about and plan for the needs of our children. As parents and bread winners in the family, it is our duty to provide for them so we petition to God our ability to so. We depend on God to put bread on our tables.
The fifth petition asks God to forgive our debts. Debt here refers to the punishment we all deserve and incur daily in our existence. We owe to God obedience and worship but due to sin we are unable to do so. Upon conversion, we progress in our sanctification. We continually hate sin and love righteousness. Praying for forgiveness means we continually desire to repent to God our sins and while we deserve nothing from God aside his wrath, we pray for his mercy and forgiveness as we continue in fighting sin and loving God. The atoning work of Christ secures our justification and asks God’s forgiveness daily in order to grow our desire for it.
Ursinus explains in his commentary:
“The godly do, indeed, enjoy the forgiveness of sins, but not wholly, and that too not in respect to the continuance, but merely as it respects the beginning thereof. This forgiveness should without doubt be continued, inasmuch as sins are continually found even in the regenerate. God does also continue it in all those to whom he forgives sin in his Son, but with the condition that we daily desire this continuance. Hence, although God has forgiven our sins for Christ’s sake, yet he nevertheless designs that we should pray for their forgiveness. It is for this reason that we pray that God would forgive us the sins which we now, or may hereafter commit.”
We transition from praying for the temporal needs of our bodies to the spiritual concerns of our souls. We need desire for God to daily hear our confessions and cleanse us from the corruptions of this remain sin in our flesh. As much as we need food to sustain our physical life, we need grace to sustain our spiritual life. Despite of our decisive break with sin and misery of its guilt, sin remains in our flesh and we need daily deliverance from its corruptions.
We will continue our exposition of this petition on our last part next Lord’s Day. But it is suffice for us now to say that Jesus wants us his disciplines to pray for our temporal and eternal needs. He exhorts us to desire our sanctification. As Christians, we grow in our holiness until we are glorified in heaven but here on earth, we pray for our needs in order to grow physically and spiritually. We pray for our daily provision in order our desire for it to grow. Ursinus wrote: “For faith is the cause of prayer, and prayer is the cause of faith as it respects the increase thereof.” It means we properly pray as regenerate believers. It all comes from faith imputed to us but we also pray for the demonstration of saving faith. And this what Jesus want us to continually petition to our Father in heaven.
ZCRC (Imus), God commands us to petition for our daily needs. He desires for us increase our dependence on him for everything that concerns us. Let us acknowledge our frailty before him and ask God to sustain us in this life and for the life to come. Amen.