Praying for Present Provisions —
When this writer spoke about historical Presbyterians going on Sabbatical in the month of December with a resultant scarcity of their history, we meant what we said. Nowhere is that statement clearer than for us having to follow up one catechism study with another one, because of nothing being found of any historical significance in Presbyterianism on December 22.
The fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer is expounded for us in Shorter Catechism answer number 104. It says, “In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray, that of God’s free gift, we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.”
The first three petitions were all upward in scope. We prayed, according to our Lord’s example, for God’s Name to be hallowed, His kingdom to arrive, and God’s will to be done on earth as the angels do that divine will in heaven. The focus was all on God — His Name, His kingdom, and His will. With the last three petitions, we see the horizontal scope of prayer as they deal with the saints. The fourth petition deals with our body and the next two deal with our soul.
When we pray this fourth petition, we give an acknowledge first that everything belongs to God. James understood this when he wrote in James 1:17 that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is not variation or shifting shadow.” (NASB) What he defined as God-given was also acknowledged by the Psalmist David in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.” (NASB) So God is the owner of all things in this earth and world.
As such, each of us saints, including unbelievers, need to depend upon God for that which is sufficient for our daily needs. This writer used to proclaim to his middle-class members that they had a perfect aim given to them in God’s Word. It is Proverbs 30:8,9, which states, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.” We could paraphrase and say, “make me a middle class citizen, Lord.” We depend upon God for needs, this day, daily. As the Larger Catechism states, we wait upon God’s providence through lawful means, such as work, in supplying our daily needs.
Upon all of God’s competent portions, we seek to enjoy His blessing with them. “Bless this food,” we pray before our meals. We then partake, to enjoy His blessing of them.
Words to live by: All of these blessings are God’s free gift to us. We don’t deserve them. We are not to trust in them. That would be substituting the things of this earth for the Person of the God who bestowed them upon us. That is idolatry, and ought to be forsaken by the believer. Let us live instead in the light that all that we need comes to us through God’s providence, and bless Him alone for giving them to us to enjoy.
Through the Scriptures: 1 John 1, 2
Through the Standards: Proof texts of the state of man after death
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” (ESV)
2 Corinthians 5:6 – 9
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” (ESV)
Tags: WSC Q. 105