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The Lord's Prayer - Part Two
Praying For Human Needs

by John Edmiston


Matthew 6:11-15
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Introduction

Today we are looking at the human needs”part of the Lord's Prayer and these fall into four categories:
a) Provision
b)Forgiveness
c) Moral Guidance & Protection and
d) Deliverance from evil.

All of these requests see us as very needy people - needing even our daily bread, needing forgiveness because we are weak and sinful, needing guidance because we can so easily go astray and fall into temptation, and needing protection and deliverance to stand against the onslaught of evil because we cannot bear it alone.

These requests come from the deepest parts of our humanity and force us to admit who we really are - ordinary men and women with huge needs and with absolutely no way of making it through life without God's help.

Jesus calls us to radical humility. The most radical form of humility is to realize we are just like all those other messed up people out there. Christian are not perfect they are just forgiven.

Most people construct a social ladder based on what they are good at so they are at least two-thirds of the way up the ladder. So the good-looking people tend to judge others by their looks - because that is safe for them because they are better looking than most, and the very rich people judge others by their bank accounts - because that is safe for them because they have far more than most, and intellectuals judge people by their IQs and degrees because that is safe for them because they do so much better than the average Joe, and bible teachers tend to judge others by how many bible verses they know and how accurate their theology is - because that is safe for us because that is what we do well. But all these social ladders are imaginary - that is they only exist in the minds of the people who make them up. They are human self-deception, and are just emotional security blankets that prop up our self-esteem.

All these ladders start out with I Am OK because.... I am in the top ten percent of butterfly collectors - or whatever. We think God will have to let us into heaven because we are good-looking or wealthy or smart or because we know a lot of bible verses. We do not want to admit that we are all sinners, that we are all not OK, in some very deep and significant ways, and that we all need God's help and provision, and forgiveness and protection and deliverance.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.

This is a prayer for both spiritual and material provision. For the daily bread of God's Word and the daily bread of food and clothing and shelter and other vital human needs.

The term “bread” is often used in a spiritual sense in the book of Matthew.

Matthew 4:3-4 HCSB Then the tempter approached Him and said, "If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (4) But He answered, "It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Matthew 7:8-11 HCSB For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (9) What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? (10) Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? (11) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Matthew 15:22-28 HCSB Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly tormented by a demon." (23) Yet He did not say a word to her. So His disciples approached Him and urged Him, "Send her away because she cries out after us." (24) He replied, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (25) But she came, knelt before Him, and said, "Lord, help me!" (26) He answered, "It isn't right to take the children's bread and throw it to their dogs." (27) "Yes, Lord," she said, "yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table!" (28) Then Jesus replied to her, "Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want." And from that moment her daughter was cured.

Matthew 16:11-12 HCSB Why is it you don't understand that when I told you, 'Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,' it wasn't about bread?" (12) Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the yeast in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

So in one sense “bread” is the spiritual things we need such as healing, exorcism, teaching, the Word of God, etc. In Matthew 15 “the children's bread” is the working of miracles by Jesus. In Matthew 16 “bread” is teaching. In Matthew 7 it is the good gifts that come from God and in Matthew 4 it is the Word of God.


So “daily bread” is God's total provision for our lives - physical, spiritual, emotional and so on. It is especially that which is needed so we can be healthy and grow in God. If spiritual health requires a miracle, then that miracle becomes part of the “daily bread” that helps us grow.

The phrase “give us this day our daily bread” is almost repetitious in its emphasis on “this day” and “daily” thus implying we are praying this prayer every day out of our continual daily relationship with God.

Like the manna in the wilderness God's provision is on a daily basis and our prayers should be on a daily basis. The Christian life is lived “one day at a time” and grace arrives one day at a time. We still should plan and think and provide, but life is daily, a continuous tapping into God.

And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

Christianity is a community of the forgiven. We are forgiven by God and we also should forgive one another. Praying forgive us our debts assumes that we all have such debts before God. The debts spoken of here are our spiritual debts and obligations. Both the wrong things we have done and the good things we have left undone. The HCSB translation talks about a certificate of debt that we have before God:

Colossians 2:14 HCSB He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.

All the wrong stuff in our life is forgiven by God, indeed the entire crushing hostile weight of debt and sin and misery and folly is taken out of the way and nailed to the cross.

Since the Lord's Prayer is meant to be prayed every day as we ask for our daily bread then we should be asking for forgiveness every day as well. This is called “keeping short accounts with God” and is a very healthy spiritual practice.

There are two types of confession - general and specific. General confession is confession that you are a sinner in need of grace and you can simply say “forgive us our debts” and confess son behalf of yourself and of any community in which you have a definite belonging and role.

Specific confession is confessing a particular sin or occasion of sin. If you do something terrible and need to clear it up with God that is specific confession. This sort of confession can have great healing power:

James 5:16 HCSB Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.

As we forgive our debtors” is the only human action in the whole Lord's Prayer. God makes prayer dependent on the condition of our hearts and angry, hateful resentful hearts are not pleasing to a holy God.

God is just and treats people as they treat others. If we are merciful, we receive mercy, if we are forgiving we receive grace, this is particularly true of those in our power so that if we treat our wife kindly our prayers and answered (see 1 Peter 3:7). The corollary is that if we are mean and nasty our prayers are hindered.

1 Peter 3:7 HCSB Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

If you want your prayers answered - be nice to others, and treat them the way you would like God to treat you!

Luke 6:36-38 HCSB Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (37) "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (38) Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over--will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

And do not lead us into temptation

Two bible verses are very important here:

1 Corinthians 10:13 HCSB (13) No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.

James 1:13-15 HCSB No one undergoing a trial should say, "I am being tempted by God." For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone. (14) But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. (15) Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

Temptation is the strong impulse to go off-track spiritually. Temptation is the attraction to the wrong direction, it is the evil desire. It is the movement from desire to sin that characterizes temptation. To be technically correct an alcoholic is not tempted by alcohol. The temptation came years ago when he or she was first attracted to heavy drinking and gave in to the decision to drink and keep drinking. Now alcohol is a sinful habit, a craving, and an addiction. But an addiction is not a temptation, it is a life pattern.

Temptation is to do and Adam and Eve and plunge out of the light into the darkness, to take the wrong road, and to believe the lie. Temptation comes whenever we are at a critical point - such as Jesus in the wilderness at the start of His ministry. The Devil turns up and tells us that there is another easier way than the cross.

Temptation is often accompanied by three things: a) a strong inappropriate desire that seems compelling b) a confused or reduced state of mind that cannot think clearly about the consequences. c) a sense of great compelling haste and urgency that says “now” very loudly and is impatient with thought or refection.

One of the easiest ways out of temptation is to simply go for a walk and think it over clearly and at length. The decision to take time out to engage your wisdom and to ponder the matter over before the Lord will knock 90% of temptations cold. Most temptations do not survive clear thought and the light of day.

Some temptations have physical sensations such as aromas, a sweet cloudy sensation, a floating detached feeling, a high, an expansive euphoria and feelings of great importance, grandeur and pride. Or there may be a crushing hammer-like accusing negativity that advocates giving up, running away or even thoughts of self-harm.

Now when we are at that point of choice God promises to help us and to provide a way of escape from the Tempter. There is always an out. You can turn away from the door of the wayward woman and not go in. You can run away from idols and false worship. You can decide to put the money back in the till. When you think you may be being tempted just pray “Lord lead me not into temptation” and God will answer. God will not let you be overwhelmed by these powerful forces.

God knows that every day we face vital life choices and that we need spiritual protection and guidance so we end up on the right track. We need to be humble enough to ask that God will keep us from wring spiritual choices - every day!

But deliver us from the evil one

One last thing that we should pray for is deliverance from the evil one. We need to be rescued from the Devil and all his schemes against our lives. For Jesus evil is a personal being, a fallen angel called Satan, who dominates and enslaves mankind and who wants to be the focus of all our worship. This predatory being makes war against the saints and we need God to deliver us from his schemes.

Praying “But deliver us from the evil one” is a continuation of the theme on temptation because the Devil is also called the Tempter. It is a plea to be rescued from Satan's plan for the total destruction of your body, soul and spirit forever in hell.

Now Christians have been given certain powerful weapons such as the name and the blood of Jesus, the spiritual armor of God, and the Word of God which is the sword of the Spirit. We are to use these weapons and our spiritual authority and we are also to cal upon God for deliverance.

We should walk a middle line here. On one hand we should not be naive. We should acknowledge the reality and power of the evil one and pray against it. On the other hand we should not be fearful and paranoid but trust in the love and sovereign power of God who can and will deliver us.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever

At the end of the Lord's Prayer we turn our eyes back to God and His glory and recognize that God reigns - even in this fallen sinful world . Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory is both an act of worship and an act of radical humility. It is not my kingdom, my power or my glory that is important - but God's kingdom, power and glory that is my supreme interest.

And these things are “forever”. When we pray we are dealing with eternal things, grand things, supreme things and a simple prayer can affect things “forever”. A prayer for someone's spiritual salvation may cause them to inhabit eternity forever. That prayer will still be having consequences a million years from now. If you want to influence the future history of the world - pray the Lord's Prayer!

Amen.

Amen means “let it be so” or truly and is a Hebrew word that means true or lasting or confirmed and is related to the word for “truth” (emuns). It is often used at the end of Psalms and the signing of covenants. It is a solid affirmation of the previous statement, a bit like stamping it with a seal. If you agree with the prayer and affirm all it contains you say the Amen at the end of it. “Amen brother”. Amen is not just a spiritual full stop, it is a definite agreeing with all that God is doing, and with that all the people said Amen!

 

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.