The Fourth Petition

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Day 6 | The Lord’s Prayer

Welcome to St Johns Papatoetoe studies. During Holy Week, we are examining portions of our confession relating to the Lord’s Prayer. This connects us to an historic faith rooted in the word of God. We have covered so far:

  • Why we pray The Lord’s Prayer
  • The Preface of The Lord’s Prayer
  • The First Petition of The Lord’s Prayer
  • The Second Petition of The Lord’s Prayer
  • The Third Petition of The Lord’s Prayer.

We now continue the study with the following question:

What do we pray for in the Fourth Petition?

In the Fourth Petition, (which is, Give us this day our daily bread,) acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, nor we to merit, or by our own industry to procure them; but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of His free gift, and as to His fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort. Larger Catechism (1648), 193

Need #1 – We pray for blessing

  1. We pray for blessing

acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them;

When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, we do so to seek God’s blessing. The doctrine of Total Depravity once again raises its head. The Fourth Petition acknowledges our sinful nature. It confesses a forfeit of “rights”. We lost our rights when we rebelled against God. The very ground from which seek our sustenance has been divinely cursed. We are withdrawing our trust from all creatures—the food supply chain—and transferring that trust to God alone.

Need #2 – We pray for sustanence

When we pray, “Thy will be done”, we are renouncing our own will and requesting help to obey God’s will.

and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, nor we to merit, or by our own industry to procure them;

When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, it is not one out of desperation, but recognition that the power to get wealth that buys our supply comes from God, “that he may establish his covenant” (Deuteronomy 8:18). We are acknowledging God as    God’s blessing. We do not live by bread alone but by God’s word which sustains and nourishes our very being and place in Creation (Deuteronomy 8:3). We trust God is able to bless our food and its provision; our clothing and its supply.

Need #3 – We pray for moderation

but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of His free gift, and as to His fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them;

The Fourth Petition presumes our bent toward covetousness and the internal mechanisms that seek more than what we need (Jer 6:13; Mk 7:21-22). When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, we are praying for moderation. Our desire to “get” and use what we get “unlawfully” is balanced by a trust in Providence (Hos 12:7; Jas 4:3). The doctrine of moderation is key to the Church’s practice. It encourages honest labour (Eph 4:28), actual labour (2 Thes 3:11-12), and anxious-free labour (Phil 4:6).

Waiting upon God to supply physical needs is not laziness. It is not sitting back and expecting God to wave a magic wand and make food appear on your dinner plate. This prayer is a submission of one’s work; one’s labour; and one’s efforts in life to God. It is recognising the doctrine of Providence referred to on Day 3 in the First Petition. It is seeking heavenly help to sustain us.

Need #4 – We pray for contentment

but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort.

When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we pray for contentment. We are asking for enough for the day and embrace the supply as sufficient. Humanity today is blessed with the ability to eat food from around the world and select sources of nutrition toward long healthy lives. Let us be sure to never long for what we do not have in a way that turns our heart away from God. 

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.1 Tim 6:6-8

When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we recognise that each day we will be bombarded with words and deeds that harm our peace. Being content means you have more than you need but not too much where you will ignore seeking God’s blessing. The ancient Proverb sums it up perfectly.

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,

lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God. Prov 30:8-9 

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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