March 26, 2014

The Lord’s Prayer: Part 3



The Lord’s Prayer: Part 3




Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

NOTE: The main photo appearing on each part of this study features the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania. To learn about this spectacular site click on Hill of Crosses in Lithuania


This study began with my personal story, Where I Learned Key Church & Scripture Readings and continues with A 6-Part Study of The Lord’s Prayer: Part 1. Each of the 6 parts of this study of The Lord’s Prayer will reference selections drawn from the writings of three historical clergymen:

Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Adam Clarke (1760-1832)

Albert Barnes (1798-1870)

These commentators lived long ago, but their words still ring true. They have a universal power in our lives.

I will write a personal perspective following the commentator’s words. I invite you to add any comment you might have in the comment box at the end of each study.


Give us this day our daily bread… Bread has always been on the agenda for sustaining life. While in the wilderness the Israelites existed mostly on manna, a basic bread-like substance. Jesus teaches us in our prayer to ask for that daily bread.

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MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714)

      Every word here has a lesson in it: (1.) We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance; we ask for bread, not dainties, not superfluities; that which is wholesome, though it be not nice. (2.) We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry: we do not ask for the bread out of other people’s mouths, not the bread of deceit (Pr 20:17), not the bread of idleness (Pr 31:27), but the bread honestly gotten. (3.) We ask for our daily bread; which teaches us not to take thought for the morrow (Mt 6:34), but constantly to depend upon divine Providence, as those that live from hand to mouth. (4.) We beg of God to give it us, not sell it us, nor lend it us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread, (5.) We pray, “Give it to us; not to me only, but to others in common with me.” This teaches us charity, and a compassionate concern for the poor and needy. It intimates also, that we ought to pray with our families; we and our households eat together, and therefore ought to pray together. (6.) We pray that God would give us this day; which teaches us to renew the desire of our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed; as duly as the day comes, we must pray to our heavenly Father, and reckon we could as well go a day without meat, as without prayer.

 ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832)

Observe 1. God is the author and dispenser of all temporal as well as spiritual good. 2. We have merited no kind of good from his hand, and therefore must receive it as a free gift: Give us, daily for support; we are not permitted to ask any thing for to-morrow: give us to-day. 4. That petition of the ancient Jews is excellent: “Lord, the necessities of thy people Israel are many, and their knowledge small, so that they know not how to disclose their necessities: Let it be thy good pleasure to give to every man, what sufficeth for food!” Thus they expressed their dependence, and left it to God to determine what was best and most suitable. We must ask only that which is essential to our support, God having promised neither luxuries nor superfluities.

 ALBERT BARNES (1798-1870)

The word bread here denotes, doubtless, everything necessary to sustain life, Mt 4:4, De 8:3. This petition implies our dependence on God for the supply of our wants. As we are dependent on him one day as much as another, it was evidently the intention of our Saviour that prayer should be offered every day. This is, moreover, expressed in the plural number– give us. It is evidently, therefore, intended to be used by more than one, or by some community of people. No community or congregation can meet every day for worship but families. It is therefore evident that this prayer is a strong implied command for daily family prayer. It can nowhere else be used so as fully to come up to the meaning of the original intention; and nowhere else can it be breathed forth with so much propriety and beauty as from the lips of a father, the venerable priest of his household, and the pleader with God for those rich blessings which a parental bosom desires on his beloved offspring.

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What are we really asking for when we ask for daily bread? God’s providence, day-by-day! God’s providence includes the food on our table, but so much more—our health, our shelter, our spiritual vitality, our active minds. Importantly, it comes for and is for one day—like manna.

During mid-March I experienced a severe attack of bronchitis. This illness helped give me perspective. I looked forward to each new day, in hope of better health. Prayers were for the present—please give me health.

I also came to realize that without well-being the spiritual is somewhat at a stand-still, that life in the absence of the key basics is not ready to do justice to the spiritual relationship with God. There is a circular effect here, and the worst result is a downward spiral of not requesting the bread, not enjoying the stewardship of it, and slowly moving away from a daily interaction with God.

Our clergymen have brought home three points about ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’:

  1. God gives it. We don’t earn, and frankly how would we pay for it?
  2. It comes one day at a time—like manna—enough for the day and plentiful enough to deserve our full attention each day.
  3. It comes for all of us. The ‘me’ thing doesn’t cut it here. If any is left without, we all are shortchanged.

This week, while regaining the strength lost during my illness, I returned to making bread. In so doing I reminded myself of my joy in God’s daily one-day-at-a-time bread delivery—health, shelter, spiritual vitality, active mind.

I return to my thought of last week—to try to keep out of the way of God’s will and the coming of the Kingdom. As I recover from illness I ask myself Will I make certain my spiritual life is as healthy as the physical body that God supplies daily, or will I interfere with God’s daily bread delivery?

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Coming next Wednesday: Lead us not into temptation.



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