The Lord’s Prayer 2
Sermon on the Mount
The Lord’s Prayer 2
As has previously been stated, the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most comprehensive and concise prayers in the Bible. In six short petitions it covers the scope of everything we need to pray for. The first three petitions deal with God and his glory and the last three with man and his needs. It is extremely difficult to transition from speaking about God and His kingdom to man and his needs. As you look closely though, you will notice that the last three petitions cover the three great needs of man here on earth: physical, spiritual, and moral.
I. Physical Need (Our Daily Bread)
While it seems absurd to pray for our daily bread as a well-fed American, I can assure you that it was not to the Jew in Palestine. For the most part they were part of an agrarian culture, in which they were paid daily for their work. One day of work paid for about one day of food. To develop chronic health problems or to have a drought could spell starvation.
There is an interesting textual note that you need to know. The word “daily” has been a source of great controversy. The problem is that this is the only occurrence of this word in all of Greek literature. Part of the word was found one time in a grocery list, but we don’t know if the second half of the word was this word or another similar word. Experts tell us that the word either means “today’s bread” or “tomorrow’s bread.” If this prayer is offered in the morning, it is a prayer for the needs of the day. If it is prayed in the evening, it is a prayer for the needs of the next day. It is a prayer that asks God to provide for the physical needs that one has on a daily basis.
What does it mean to pray for our “daily bread?” Martin Luther said, “The bread is a symbol of everything necessary for the preservation of this life, like food, a healthy body, good weather, house, home, wife, children, good government and peace.”
So we are to pray for our physical needs. However, we need to provide some thoughtful application.
A. It is not a blank check to fulfill our lusts
It is not permission to go through Bass Pro Shop asking for everything that catches our fancy. Some preachers say that if we want a Cadillac or Mercedes, it is God’s will for us because of Psalm 37:4. The Lord’s Prayer does not endorse this kind of thinking. “Daily Bread” is asking for the things that are necessary for life and health. Remember the word is “bread” not “cheesecake.”
B. It is an invitation to come to God with the “small things”
One of the precious realities of our life with Christ is that God cares for the simple, ordinary, day-to-day things of life. Jesus taught us that even supposedly trivial matters are important to God. Our Lord took babies in His arms and loved them and blessed them, when His disciples wanted to send them away. He bestowed His love upon seemingly worthless existences of those who were ignored and looked down upon – the lepers, the lame, and the mentally ill. God cares whether his people are warm, well-fed, and well-housed.
Besides, some things are not so little when we lack them. To be given a new truck …isn’t appealing if we can’t afford to put gas in it.. A visit to the art gallery is less inspiring when we visit it on an empty stomach. The greatness of our God is that He descends to meet us where we are. When we come to Him with the so-called “little things,” we do him a great honor.
C. When we pray our “daily bread,” God is nurturing in us a daily dependence upon Himself
No other line in the Lord’s Prayer runs so contrary to the world today. Men are trying to gain their independence, by compounding their security and wealth. There is nothing wrong with putting back money for a rainy day and sound financial planning, but the truth is, whether you are rich or poor, you should daily be dependent upon God.
D. God wants to build mutuality between us and our brothers and sisters through prayer
Jesus commands us to pray “give us” not “give me.” Every time we pray in the will of God we are praying for the needs of our brothers and sisters. The petition is not only for practical provision, but it broadens and stretches us. God wants us to feel free to come to him with requests for even the tiniest of needs – the bread we need, a coat, shoes, a car, books, a vacation, exercise, groceries, etc.
II. Spiritual Need (Forgive us our debts)
It was Monday, December 1, 1997. About a dozen students were huddled to pray—as they did every morning—in the hallway outside the administration office at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky. Classes would start in a few minutes, so someone closed in prayer.The final amen still hung in the air. Students had not yet begun to move away to their classes. Suddenly the sound of gunshots shattered the peace of the moment. A fourteen-year-old freshman had walked up to the group with a .22 caliber automatic pistol and was firing into the prayer circle, calmly shooting students one at a time.
When it was over, three students were dead and five others seriously wounded. The story made headlines for weeks. What was so astonishing was that by all accounts, the students in the prayer circle had done nothing to provoke the boy who did the shooting. In fact, several of them had previously befriended him. The secular media were at a loss to explain how anyone so young could commit such a heinous act of pure evil.
Another aspect of the story also caught the media’s eye—the amazing forgiveness immediately extended by the survivors and their loved ones. Many relatives of the victims were interviewed by the press in the days and weeks following the shooting. Despite the utter senselessness of the crime, no one spoke with bitterness or a desire for vengeance. Churches in Paducah, while ministering to the victims and their loved ones, also reached out to the shooter and his family. One of the injured girls was fifteen-year-old Melissa Jenkins. As she lay in the hospital less than a week after the shootings, fully aware that the damage to her spinal cord was so severe she would be a paraplegic for the rest of her life, she sent a message through a friend to the boy who had deliberately shot her: “Tell him I forgive him.”
The word “debt” is a word that is often used of sin. Sin is looked at as a debt to God. Jesus was the remission (that is He paid) for our sins. There is a very simple principle operating here. Our sin was paid for on the cross and forgiven when we repented at salvation. However, according to Jesus, when he washed the Disciple’s feet and again in 1 John 1:9, we need to be cleansed of our sin on a daily basis. But remember, the following principle is active…to receive forgiveness, you must first forgive.
Forgiveness is the greatest need we humans have. No forgiveness equates to no hope. We have been forgiven such sin debt that we are impelled to forgive. Look at verse fifteen, Jesus says, “If you will not forgive others their sins, then the Father will not forgive you your sins.”
ILL: Thomas Watson the great Puritan said this, “A man can as well go to hell for not forgiving as for not believing.” Charles Spurgeon stated, “Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord’s Prayer.”
Sometimes our unforgiving hearts make our prayers die on our lips. The Lord’s Prayer is nothing more than a self-inflicted curse – a prayer of doom instead of blessing. For if we pray for the forgiveness of sins and will not forgive others, then we are asking for God not to forgive our sins.
I will go as far as to say this. If you do not forgive, you are not Christian. Here’s how. You demonstrate whether you have been forgiven by whether or not you will forgive. So if you refuse to forgive, there is only one reason – you are outside of God’s grace, you are not forgiven. These are hard words, and they are not intended for the majority here. These words need to be heard by the religious person who can state all the answers, who attends church, who leads an outwardly moral life, but who holds a death grip on his or her grudges.
Now I am not talking to someone who finds bitterness and anger recur even though you have forgiven. The fact that you have forgiven and continue to forgive shows that you have God’s grace in your heart. I am speaking to someone who struggles with forgiveness. I am speaking to the one with no desire to forgive. The point is if we are Christians we can and will forgive.
We tend to exaggerate the wrongs done to us and claim that others are just sensitive to the wrongs done to them. C.S. Lewis says this: “In our own case we accept excuses too easily, in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough. As regards my own sins it is a safe bet that the excuses are not really as good as I think: as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet that the excuses are better than I think.”
The health of your soul, in fact the health of the church is weakened by the lack of forgiveness. I urge you to shed that unforgiving spirit, the constant fault-finding, the hurt and bitterness you are harboring. Restore relationships, not only with man but with God. Forgive your spouses, your parents, your coworkers and experience the profound joy and freedom found in the forgiveness of others. You may be wondering why heaven is like brass. You can’t seem to find answers to prayer. The fact is it is your own fault, your own unforgiveness.
III. Moral Need (Lead us not into temptation)
This prayer reminds me of a young man, Alexander was trying to save all the pennies he could in order to buy a baseball bat. But he had a hard struggle. One night when he was praying, he said, “O Lord, please help me save my money for a baseball bat. And, God, don’t let the ice cream man come down this street!”
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” is two ways of asking for the same thing. The key to understanding is in the word “temptation.” It is a neutral word that has no connotation for good or evil. We know that God will not tempt someone to sin, yet James also says that we should count it all joy when we face divers temptations.
I like what an ancient church father said. He stated that Jesus is not speaking of theology or logic. He said that Jesus is speaking of a heart desire and inclination that causes a believer to want to avoid the danger and trouble that sin creates. It is the expression that a redeemed soul that so despises and fears sin that it wants to escape all prospects of falling into it, choosing to avoid rather than having to defeat temptation.
“What are you doing, son?” the shopkeeper asked a little boy whose eyes were on a large basket of apples outside the storefront. “Trying to steal one of those apples?”
“No sir,” replied the boy. “I’m trying not to.”
We need to look honestly at the power of sin and at our own weakness and sinful propensities, we should shudder at the danger of temptation or even trial. We should look at temptation through the eyes of self-distrust. In a cursed world where we are battered by evil all around us, we confess our inadequacy in dealing with evil.
Conclusion: There are three great needs that you have. You have need of the necessities of life. You have need to forgive as well as to be forgiven. You need to avoid temptation. No doubt there are some in this room who are either struggling with or have succumbed to materialism. Why don’t you ask God to help you to be satisfied with the daily necessities of life?
Sadly though, there are those in this room who need to embrace forgiveness, but instead cling to unforgiveness, harbor resentment to others. You will not and cannot receive the blessing of God. In fact, some here may need salvation.
Finally, some are not avoid temptation as they should.
My pleas for you, no matter your plight, please get right with God. Go to others and forgive, come to God with your struggles.