Thoughts about the Fourth Lesson of With Christ in the School of Prayer:
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:11-13)
To pray “like this” (Matthew 6:9) means we should pray for that which brings reverence, glory, honor, and worship to Our Father and allows for very little in way of ourselves: only “Give us this day our daily bread”.
(1) We do well to remember the One from whose hands life is sustained. Our daily bread is a gift from Him and when He chooses to provide for our sustenance our response should be one of gratitude and thankfulness. To pray “like this” means that we are also to pray ‘give us’ realizing that our request should always include the needs of others and not just for ourselves.
(2) To pray “like this” means that as often as we pray we are to seek forgiveness for our sin-debit and are reminded of the words of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. More than this however, we should, as often as we pray, remember the sacrifice of Jesus “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood” (Romans 3:25) for our own sin-debit and this only by His grace. Just as we received this grace freely given we should also forgive our fellow debtors for the wrongs committed against us: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). As Matthew Henry observed
“…no one can reasonably imagine himself to be the object of divine forgiveness who is deliberately and habitually unforgiving towards his fellow men, so it is a beautiful provision to make our right to ask and expect daily forgiveness of our daily shortcomings and our final absolution and acquittal at the great day of admission into the kingdom, dependent upon our consciousness of a forgiving disposition towards our fellows, and our preparedness to protest before the Searcher of hearts that we do actually forgive them”.
(3) Finally, to pray “like this” means that we recognize we are completely and totally dependent upon Our Father in heaven for deliverance and safety not only from temptation but from evil and its consequences. It is recognition of the fact that we are more like Peter before the resurrection than we are like Job or Abraham.
O Thou who art the only-begotten Son, teach us, we beseech Thee, to pray, ‘OUR FATHER.’ We thank Thee, Lord, for these Living Blessed Words which Thou has given us. We thank Thee for the millions who in them have learnt to know and worship the Father, and for what they have been to us. Lord! it is as if we needed days and weeks in Thy school with each separate petition; so deep and full are they. But we look to Thee to lead us deeper into their meaning: do it, we pray Thee, for Thy Name’s sake; Thy name is Son of the Father.
Lord! Thou didst once say: ‘No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal Him.’ And again: ‘I made known unto them Thy name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them.’ Lord Jesus! reveal to us the Father. Let His name, His infinite Father-love, the love with which He loved Thee, according to Thy prayer, BE IN US. Then shall we say aright, ‘OUR FATHER!’ Then shall we apprehend Thy teaching, and the first spontaneous breathing of our heart will be: ‘Our Father, Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, Thy Will.’ And we shall bring our needs and our sins and our temptations to Him in the confidence that the love of such a Father care for all.
Blessed Lord! we are Thy scholars, we trust Thee; do teach us to pray, ‘OUR FATHER.’ Amen.