Practical Application of the Lord’s Prayer: Part 3February 24th, 2012 by Oleg Kostyuk
Today we will take a closer look at the petitions of our own needs.
After presenting the petitions about God and His worship Jesus teaches us how to address our own needs. Let us take a closer look at these petitions…
4. Give us this day our daily bread
This petition occurs at the center of the prayer. In the Bible, bread symbolizes all that we eat.
One of the most basic human fears is the fear of economic privation. Will we have enough? We are managing now, but what about the future? What if I am unable to work? One of the deepest and biggest fears of the human spirit is the fear of not having enough to eat.
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches His disciples to pray for release from that fear. To pray for bread that God will provide is to pray for deliverance from the anxiety that there will not be enough, because this fear can destroy the human spirit.
In this one phrase, let’s focus on three very important aspects.
1. In this prayer we are asking for bread, not cake.
2. And we ask for OUR bread not just mine.
3. Bread is a gift. All our material possessions are on loan from their owner; the God who created everything.
Mother Teresa in her Nobel Lecture on December 11, 1979, beautifully expressed what it means to share OUR bread:
A gentleman came to our house and said: Mother Teresa, there is a family with eight children, they had not eaten for so long – do something. So I took some rice and I went there immediately. And I saw the children – their eyes shinning with hunger – I don’t know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And she took the rice, she divided the rice, and she went out. When she came back I asked her – where did you go, what did you do? And she gave me a very simple answer: They are hungry also. What struck me most was that she knew – and who are they, a Muslim family – and she knew. I didn’t bring more rice that evening because I wanted them to enjoy the joy of sharing. But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy with their mother because she had the love to give. And you see this is where love begins – at home.
5. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
This is not easy. But in the light of Jesus on the cross, forgiveness must be offered even when it is not requested. Right after the Lord’s Prayer we read the important words of Jesus, “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mat. 6:15)
In order to demonstrate this point, let me share an illustration from the book The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal.
In the beginning of the book, Simon tells a story which takes place during the Holocaust. The story starts when he is in a labor camp. Soldiers who died got sunflowers planted on their graves, but the dead Jews just got piled in heaps. Simon is jealous because he thinks that he will not be remembered when he dies. On duty one day he is pulled into a hospital by a nurse. Inside is a German man named Karl covered in bandages with only holes for his nose, ears and mouth. Then Karl tells him a story of when he was a Nazi soldier and how he killed a helpless innocent Jewish family while burning down the house they were locked in. He had killed many Jews but only told Simon about this particular encounter. Karl was later shot in battle and brought to the hospital to wait for the impending death he knew was coming. Then he told the nurse that he wished to speak with a Jew. After telling him his life story he asks Simon for forgiveness sounding sincerely repentant: Karl is truly haunted by his sins.
After hearing his story Simon walks out of the room silently without saying a word. The next day Karl dies and leaves Simon all of his possessions (which is not much), but Simon refused to take them.
When the war was over, Simon couldn’t stop thinking about the dying Nazi and his repentance on his deathbed. One day Simon found the Nazi’s mother’s house. She was now a widow living alone with only memories of her family left. The mother thought her son was an innocent, good, brave child because he had been an altar boy before he joined the Nazi Youth. She tells Simon her view on Karl’s life. Simon didn’t tell her what he knew. He left her like he had left Karl — without saying a word.
Many years later Simon questioned whether he had done the right thing. He asked many people about his actions. A few of these people included Jews, Rabbis, a Catholic Cardinal, Christians and even an ex-Nazi!
So now I’ll ask you the same question: Did Simon do the right thing?
6. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
“Do not lead us into temptation” is better translated, “Do not bring us to the time of trial.” Or even, “do not permit us to go.” This language may be a reflection of the request of a trusting pilgrim to a respected guide.
The phrase in the Lord’s prayer expresses the confidence of an earthly pilgrim traveling with a divine guide. The journey requires the pilgrims to affirm daily, “Lord, we trust you to guide us, because you alone know the way that we must go.” This trust reflects the confidence of the community that prays this prayer.
When Jesus teaches us to pray the Lord’s Prayer He emphasizes a deeply personal relationship with Him. Remember to approach God as your “daddy.”