Do you ever feel guilty about praying for yourself? Our prayer lists can get so long they look like grocery lists! But we shouldn’t feel bad about this. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray about their personal needs, He began with some of the most basic issues of life. He does not limit us to praying for spiritual needs but begins with a request for “daily bread.”
The emphasis on “daily” bread may allude to the way God provided food for Israel each day during their forty-year trek through the wilderness. But it also points to a major difference between our experience and Jesus’ original audience. For many of them, whether they would eat or not was a daily question. Although our circumstances are not as pressing, we too depend upon God for our daily needs.
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray for spiritual needs, He focused on the two most important concerns. One was the need for forgiveness (v. 12). The other was the need for preservation from temptation (v. 13). In verses 14–15 Jesus warns about the danger of refusing to forgive others: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The warning of verse 14 expands the request for forgiveness in verse 12 to mean “forgive us our debts to the same degree that we have forgiven our debtors.” We don’t earn forgiveness when we forgive others. The experience of God’s grace should prompt us to show grace to others. Only those who know the grace of God by experience can forgive as Jesus describes.
>> What is on your prayer list? Jesus teaches us to boldly tell God about our needs. It may be helpful to keep a written record of your prayers so you can celebrate the way God answers.
Loving Father, “Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:11–13). Thank You for cleansing us from sin!