Greetings in the name of the one who was, the one who is, and the one who always will be, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As this letter reaches you, I hope that you are all enjoying a rest filled summer, enjoying the creation that God has given us, and enjoying time spent with family and friends. It never ceases to amaze me how much our gracious God continues to provide for us day in and day out.
With this in mind we turn back to our discussion of the Lord’s Prayer from Luther’s Small Catechism. The last time I wrote to you we had looked at who it is that we are praying to in the Lord’s Prayer and our standing in relation to the God we pray to. This was very important for us to establish first and foremost because when we understand that everything in heaven and on earth is God’s and serves the kingdom and will of God, we can understand that everything we need also comes from this very same God. That is why in the Fourth Petition we pray to God for our daily bread.
Again in this petition, like the ones that came before, our “daily bread” is given to us without us having to ask for it. In fact God provides “daily bread” to all things, even those who do not ask for it. And so in this petition we are once again reminding ourselves that God is in control of our lives and will give us everything we need in due time.
What is our “daily bread” you may ask? According to Luther, as recorded in the Small Catechism, our Lord meant by “daily bread:”
Everything included in the necessities and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, and upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like. (SC 357:14)
In short, our “daily bread” is everything that exists in our lives that we need in order to live; that is more than just physical bread.
We are asking in this petition, then, that God would help us to recognize all the “daily bread” God is constantly providing for us, while at the same time to help us to focus only on the things we truly need in this life, over against those things we merely desire for our own selfish reasons. That is not to say however that it is wrong or evil in God’s sight to ask for those things that are mere luxuries for our lives, but it is to say that we should be thankful for all the things that God has provided for us, both necessities and luxuries a like.
But the truth is we are materialistic people. We like the “stuff” we have amassed in our lives and it is in our own sinful nature to desire and seek more of the “stuff” that we think will bring us happiness, but in all reality is not necessary for a happy life. This leads directly then to the Fifth Petition in the prayer our Lord taught us. We are to seek forgiveness from God for the sins that we have committed.
In this petition we recognize that we do not deserve all that God has given us and continually provides for us. But yet God wishes us to be humble enough to seek God’s grace in our lives. When we do we find that this too is a free gift of God, provided for us on the cross by our Savior Jesus the Christ. And by recognition of this we will then be able to exhibit this same grace to those who sin against us in the course of our lives. They too fall short of the glory of God as the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans [3:23], and they too fall under the grace of our loving God. Since we live in the freedom of the forgiveness of our sins, we pray then in this petition that God will lead us in forgiving others who have committed sins against us.
By putting these two petitions together we once again recognize that everything in this life, especially our very lives, belong to God and are in God’s care. God will provide for us because God has promised to do so. But in those times when we decide to take matters into our own hands God has given us a way to turn back to God from our mistakes and seek the love and forgiveness God gives to us freely because of Christ’s death on the cross.
As we continue through the summer months and towards Fall let us be ever mindful of the fact that God is the provider of all we need and all we have. Let us seek his forgiveness when we go astray, and let us also draw on that forgiveness and extend it to those who may sin against us.
Next time we will take a look at temptation and evil as spoke of in the Lord’s Prayer as well as how the prayer concludes. Until that time may the peace of Christ flow through you.