An Exploration of The Lord’s Prayer – Blog Series – Part Seven
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matt 6:11-13 NRSV).
This portion of Jesus’ prayer is widely regarded as focusing on human essentials, needs, and necessities. The first of these is daily bread. Many commentators agree that the Greek term Epiousios, translated as daily, is uncertain and indeterminate. The term does not occur anywhere else in historical literature (Mounce 1991, 57). However, it’s widely argued that it refers to a duration of time. Nevertheless, Jesus teaches his disciples that God is to be looked to for provision and ultimate sustenance. Although bread can certainly refer to the food that one needs for physical survival, Jesus can also be asserting a broader scope of daily needs. Wilkins says, “The reference to bread is an example of synecdoche, a part-whole figure of speech for food, but especially referring to all of the believer’s needs, both physical and spiritual” (Wilkins 2004, 277-278).
The second human need that Jesus mentions is found in verse twelve, the forgiveness of debts, trespasses, or sins. For some this is startling, as Jesus associates one’s forgiveness from God with their forgiveness of others. McKnight says, “We need to hear how connected our forgiveness and God’s forgiveness are – not so we will go about trying to earn our forgiveness by forgiving others but so we will see the utter importance of being people who forgive” (McKnight 2013, 182-183). Jesus is teaching his disciples, through this prayer, the importance of forgiveness, but also the importance of obedience. Those who have experienced the forgiveness of God become a changed people, more compassionate, and thereby a more forgiving people. Forgiveness is evidence of one’s faith.
Third, Jesus addresses the need to avoid and defeat future trials, temptations, and lures toward sin and evil. Ultimately this points to God’s protection. Not only should followers rely upon God for food and forgiveness, but also a continued guard and defense against the forces of Satan and evil, as well as the individual foolishness and spiritual follies one may fall into. Chouinard says, “The idea behind the petition then asks God to empower us so that we do not succumb to the continual enticement of Satan. It is an acknowledgement of our desperate dependency upon God to lead us in victory over the forces seeking our spiritual demise” (Chouinard 1997, 130).
These three human needs and personal petitions are just as relevant for the contemporary Christian now as they were when originally spoken. God is the provider. He provides sustenance and food, both physically and spiritually. God is the restorer. He provides forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation through Christ Jesus. God is the protector. He provides fortification against evil and guidance away from sin. For all human need, God can provide. Living one’s life in the knowledge and recognition of this magnificent truth will not only change one’s relationship with God, but also change the way in which one lives and interacts with the world around them. In addition, similar to the way that the petitions for God informed the believer concerning eschatological events, so too do the petitions of human need. The provision, forgiveness, and ultimate defeat of sin and evil point to the glorious day of Christ’s return and the ultimate victory of God and His people through Christ Jesus.