As we continue to look at the principles of prayer Jesus taught in Matthew 6:9-13, we see the tree final principles of faithful prayer being: provision, pardon, and protection.
Pray for God’s provision
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” it is a prayer for God’s provision of our necessities.
At the time and in the culture that Jesus made this statement, it was common for people to earn their living as day laborers. They would have to find work for that day so that they could receive a day’s wage.
Without that opportunity to work they would not be able to purchase their daily necessities. Jesus used this cultural setting in His teaching often (cf. Matthew 20:1-16; Luke 10:7; John 4:34-38; et al).
With the cultural setting of this statement in mind, we see that Jesus wasn’t teaching His disciples to pray for God to provide something for them that they themselves were not willing to work for. Rather, such a statement would have been understood as praying for the opportunity to work and earn their daily wage so they could buy their daily bread.
It is only in a society that believes they are owed something that such a statement would be taken to mean that God is supposed to just give me whatever I want without me having to do anything for it.
No! God expects us to do our part! If we desire the opportunity to work and provide for our necessities then God, based on our faithful petition of His involvement in our lives, will open opportunities to us to have the necessities we need.
The old saying, “God helps those who help themselves,” isn’t found verbatim in the Bible but the principle certainly is. Laziness and an unwillingness to work is never spoken of as a good thing in the Bible. God’s blessings are for those willing to work! (Proverbs 13:4).
Just as laziness is contrary to God’s will for man, so is selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3) and haughtiness (Proverbs 16:18). Rather, we must have godly ambition, recognizing that our provisions come from God and are assured in our faithful service to Him (Matthew 6:28-34).
The prayer for provision is a prayer both seeking God’s providence to open opportunities to us for us to work and provide for our necessities and a prayer of thanks to God in acknowledgement of where those provisions come from.
Pray for God’s pardon
When we talk about praying for God’s pardon we need to be very clear about who Jesus is talking to when He says, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
It is very important to keep in mind here that Jesus is talking to people who are already His disciples. Nowhere does Jesus ever teach for people to pray in order to become His disciple. Rather, the prayer for forgiveness is for those who are already His disciples.
The only way to be forgiven is to be cleansed in the blood of Christ. Nowhere are we told to pray for the blood of Christ. Rather we are told to be baptized into His death (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27). We are told to “arise and be baptized, and wash away” our sins (Acts 22:16).
We are washed from our sins in the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5), we are buried with Him in baptism (Colossians 2:12). Clearly, we come into contact with the blood of Christ when we are baptized into Christ. We do not contact the blood of Christ by praying a so-called “Sinner’s Prayer.” Such a prayer is nowhere in the Bible! It is after we have been baptized into Christ that we have access to the throne of grace to appeal to God for forgiveness when we sin as Christians (2 John 1:7-10; Acts 8:13, 20-24).
Next week, Lord willing, we will continue this discussion of the prayer for God’s pardon. If you would like to study the Bible with me, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I appreciate very much the requests for the Bible Correspondence Course we have received. If you haven’t enrolled yet, please don’t wait. We’d love to get that out to you today.
Norm Fields is the minister for the Church of Christ Northside meeting at 1101 Hogansville Road in LaGrange. He may be reached at 706-812-9950 or [email protected]