The Lord's Prayer by A.W. Pink
Chapter 5 - The Fourth Petition
"Give us this day our daily bread"
We turn our attention to those petitions that more immediately concern ourselves. The fact that our Lord placed three petitions that relate directly to God’s legitimate interests first should sufficiently indicate to us that we must labor in prayer to promote the manifestative glory of God, to advance His Kingdom, and to do His will before we are permitted to supplicate for our own needs. These petitions that more immediately concern ourselves are four in number, and in them we may clearly discern an implied reference to each of the Persons of the blessed Trinity. Our temporal needs are supplied by the kindness of the Father. Our sins are forgiven through the mediation of the Son. We are preserved from temptation and delivered from evil by the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit. Let us carefully note the proportion that is observed in these last four petitions: one of them concerns our bodily needs; three relate to the concerns of the soul. This teaches us that in prayer, as in all other activities of life, temporal concerns are to be subordinated to spiritual concerns.
"Give us this day our daily bread." Perhaps it will be helpful if we begin by raising a number of questions. First, why does this request for the supply of bodily needs come before those petitions that concern the needs of the soul? Second, what is signified by, and included in, the term bread? Third, in what sense may we suitably beg God for our daily bread when we already have a supply on hand? Fourth, how can bread be a Divine gift if we earn the same by our own labors? Fifth, what is our Lord inculcating by restricting the request to "our daily bread"? Before attempting to answer these queries let us say that, with almost all of the best of the commentators, we regard the prime reference as being to material bread rather than to spiritual.
Matthew Henry has astutely pointed out that the reason this request for the supply of our physical needs heads the last four petitions is that "our natural [well being] is necessary [for] our spiritual well-being in this world." In other words, God grants to us the physical things of this life as helps to the discharge of our spiritual duties. And since they are given by Him, they are to be employed in His service. What gracious consideration God shows toward our weakness: we are unapt and unfit to perform our higher duties if deprived of the things needed for the sustenance of our bodily existence. We may also rightly infer that this petition comes first in order to promote the steady growth and strengthening of our faith. Perceiving the goodness and faithfulness of God in supplying our daily physical needs, we are encouraged and stimulated to ask for higher blessings (cf. Acts 17:25-28).
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