Last week we saw that praying aligns our will to God’s purposes. Praying the words “your name be honored as holy” means I have a responsibility to not discredit the name of my Father by my actions. Further, my concern will be that God’s purposes will be accomplished, volunteering to help expand the kingdom in the hearts of humanity. Jesus continues in his prayer:
Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
So much of the prayer has not been focused on ourselves. We are focused on God, his kingdom, and God’s will being accomplished on the earth. Now we turn to our needs. I would like for us to realize that we can talk to God about our physical needs. In fact, our Father wants us to talk to him about our physical needs. As a parent, we want our children to talk to us about the things we need. We want them to speak to us about what is going on in their lives.
But the focus of these words is on what we need today. These words in this prayer reflect a reliance on God to provide for us. I am not praying about the problems of next week, next month, and next year. I am going to God today and talking to him about my needs today. Tomorrow, I will talk to God about tomorrow’s needs and problems. Next week, I will pray to God about next week’s needs. In fact, in this very sermon Jesus teaches, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
So these words require a general contentment and trust. While we are praying about our physical needs, we are not launching into requests for all of our greed. I think we see both extremes in prayer. Some believe we should not pray to God about our physical needs. Others think God exists to give us a bunch of toys. We are not to act like greedy kids who want more and more, but we can talk to God about our physical needs.
Bring God the “little” things.
I think we learn something important for this teaching of Jesus. We are being told that we should pray about the little things to God. Our Father is not too busy for us. Just because he is the creator of the universe and the Almighty does not mean that we cannot speak to him, even about the little things in our lives. My three year old daughter came walking into my office while I was working wearing boots that she could not zip up. She was not concerned about all the things that I was doing at the moment. She simply repeated the words: “Zip it. Zip it.” Bring the Father the little things.
One reason it is important to bring our Father even the little things is because it will help us prevent those little things from turning into big things. Don’t wait for catastrophe to talk to God. Take God the little things. Making godly decisions and seeking godly direction can help us keep away from a mess of problems.
Forgive Us Our Debts…
We are going to make mistakes. Ask God for forgiveness. This is a wonderful teaching of Jesus. When we make mistakes, we can ask God for forgiveness. God is not asking us to be perfect because we cannot be perfect. We make mistakes, we fall short, we miss the mark, we sin. Again, let us keep in mind that God is our Father. As parents, which would we rather see: disobedience with a heart of rebellion or disobedience with a heart of sorrow? We are going to fall short. But do we care? Do we want forgiveness? God wants to forgive us of our sins.
Do we believe that we are forgiven? This is an important issue that can afflict Christians. We may believe that we have done things that are too great to be forgiven. We may be holding on to the guilt of sins that we have repentantly ask for forgiveness already. Do we believe that when we ask for forgiveness that God does erase our sins? God’s love is so great for us that he forgives us. As humans, we have a great difficulty understanding this loving forgiveness. We may think that God can’t keep forgiving me when I keep messing up. We find it difficult to forgive others when they repeatedly sin against us. How can God possibly continue to forgive? The love of God is very great. We also have difficulty understanding this loving forgiveness because we feel like we need to do something. We might feel that forgiveness should be harder to obtain. We should have to go to greater lengths to find forgiveness from our Father. But the child of God simply needs to pray from a repentant, confessing heart to find forgiveness from sins. It is amazing love.
As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors
This kind of gracious forgiveness reminds us that we need to be gracious in forgiveness also. I need to forgive because God has forgiven me. Every time I go to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness, I must be reminded that I also am called to be forgiving. Jesus expands upon this teaching in verses 14-15.
14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. (6:14-15; HCSB)
Forgiveness not only is good for us because God forgives us when we are forgiving of others, but also because forgiveness prevents bitterness and malice. When we are not quick to forgive, we quickly fall into sin. We harbor resentment because of wrongs committed against us. Bitterness wells up within us. We are tempted to lash out, to act sinfully, and treat the person who has wrong us badly. This is yet another reason why forgiveness is imperative. If I am waiting for them to come to be first, by the time they come to me, I can be all caught up in bitterness. Some people will not know that they did wrong against us and will never come asking for forgiveness. We will be filled with malice if we are not forgiving others of their wrongs.
Not only is Jesus calling for a forgiving heart, but a humble heart also. We can see this in the story of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (ESV)
Notice that both of them are going to the temple to pray. Be humble when you pray. Remember that you need forgiveness. Others need forgiveness. We must be merciful just as God has been merciful to us.
Pray Against Temptation
The word translated “temptation” is interesting because it can mean temptation or trial. In fact, the NRSV reads, “And do not bring us to the time of trial.” But trials and temptations really go hand in hand. Times of difficulty bring about temptations. Temptations are times of trial. It is a concept that works together. Pray for your spiritual needs. You know where sin lies. You know what your weaknesses are. You know where Satan frequently attacks. Ask God for help. Ask God for strength. Turn to God when you are being tempted and when you are going through trials. Pray to God for wisdom to get through and to avoid Satan’s traps.
This also points to the need for humility in prayer. We are not assuming that we can conquer Satan alone. We are praying for the strength of the Lord. We are praying that we will not be swallowed up when trials come. In fact, the phrase “do not lead us” comes from one Greek word, eisphero, which means “to carry inward.” Father, do not let me be swallowed up by this sin that is afflicted me. Help me to overcome it. Father, do not let me be swallowed up by life’s difficulties, but bring deliverance.
Deliver Us From Evil
Father, help me find the ways of escape that you have promised to me. There is always the opportunity to reject temptation. Help me to have the courage to reject the temptation. There is always a way through our trials. Father, help me to know that you have not given me something greater than I can handle. Rescue me from Satan. Deliver me from sin. Help me to focus on you while I am afflicted in life.
These words also do not allow for us to be passive. We must be seeking the ways of escape. We must take advantage of the opportunities to reject sin and choose God.
- Give me what I need. Prayer is for our need, not for our greed.
- Bring your Father the “little” things. He is never too busy for you.
- Ask for God’s forgiveness. His love is so great that we can simply ask for forgiveness.
- Have a forgiving heart. Remember God’s graciousness to you and so be gracious to others.
- Pray for God’s help through temptations and trials. No better person can help than the Father.