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If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that our wants and needs are our primary sources of worry. We continually think about them. But Christ teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer that we must struggle against these thoughts so that His kingdom and glory become our primary concern. This is one of the most important lessons that we learn from Matthew 6:9–10. As we pray, we must put everything in order, remembering that God is our Master and we are His servants, not the other way around. But when we arrive at verse 11, we notice a change in emphasis.

In the first three requests, the key word is the pronoun “you”: Your name, Your kingdom, Your will. But in the following three requests, the key words are the pronouns “we/us/our”: our daily bread, our debts, our forgiveness, our protection (“deliver us from evil”). After God has been given the place of preeminence, we now can and must present our needs to Him, knowing that He cares for us, beginning with “our daily bread.”

When the Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth, bread was an essential element of the daily diet, such that bread was, in a certain sense, a reference to all that was necessary for our earthly subsistence. When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, suggesting that He use His power to convert stones to bread, Jesus responded by saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Bread represents all that is necessary for our nourishment. In John 6:35, the Lord states that He is the bread of life, saying in essence, “I am to the spiritual life what bread is to the physical life.” We should ask God daily to provide for us all that we need for the sustainment of our physical lives.

These words go against our pride and sense of self-sufficiency. Every day we must come before God and ask Him to provide us with the nourishment that we will need over the next twenty-four hours so that we can continue to survive in this world. Our lives depend entirely on God. Our hearts continue to beat because God keeps them beating; our lungs continue functioning because He has decided that they will continue to work. And if we are able to satisfy our daily hunger, it is because God provides for us.

Have you ever thought about the fact that it was God who gave us permission to make use of His creation? All the variety of flavors that He created and all the nutritious substances, He gave us permission to use them. In Genesis 1:29, He says: “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Later, in Genesis 9:3, He says: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” It is God who, in His goodness, has given us permission to use these things for our sustainment and delight.

Our hearts continue to beat because God keeps them beating.

This is why Paul states in 1 Timothy 4:4–5 that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” When were all these things made holy? When God pronounced His divine permission to make use of them in chapters 1 and 9 of Genesis.

Sadly, our sense of self-sufficiency leads us frequently to forget this fundamental teaching of Scripture, and we thank ourselves for everything that we have. In a practical sense, we are like the Chaldeans about whom Habakkuk spoke in his book. These Chaldeans made a god out of their own strength and offered sacrifices to their nets (Hab. 1:15–16).

On one occasion, an elderly preacher asked a group of children:

“Where did the bread come from that you ate last night?”

“Mommy gave it to us,” they responded in unison.

“And where did mommy get it from?”

“From the bakery,” they said.

“And the baker?”

“He bought the flour from the miller.”

“And the miller, where did he get the flour from?” the preacher asked.

“From the soil,” the children responded.

“And where did the soil get it from?”

“From God,” they recognized finally.

In one way or another, we have to arrive at the same answer, but oh how long it takes us to get there. How reluctant we are to recognize this truth. Of course, every day we give thanks to God for our food, but let us be honest: Do we really think that unless God puts food on the table for us every day, we will have nothing to eat? When was the last time that you, with a true sense of need, asked God in prayer: “Lord, have mercy on me and my family, and do not let us go hungry today. Please provide for us the food that we need today, because if it were not for Your daily provision, O God, what would become of us?” When was the last time you prayed with this same sense of urgency for your and your family’s sustenance?

“What do you have that you did not receive?” Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 4:7. And the response that awaits us is “Nothing.” We have nothing that we have not already received from the hand of God (see Deut. 8:11–18; 1 Chron. 29:11, 14; Rom. 11:36). James reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17), the same Father about whom our Lord speaks in the Lord’s Prayer. Your business, your employment, your profession are nothing more than instruments in the Father’s hands to provide for your needs day after day. And it is His revealed will that you recognize each day when in prayer you cry out to Him, saying, “Our Father in heaven . . . give us this day our daily bread.”

Orderly Worship and the Holy Spirit

Debt and the Gospel of Grace

Keep Reading The Household

From the July 2021 Issue
Jul 2021 Issue