There are times when we wonder, “Since God knows our daily needs and since He promises to give us those needs anyway, why then should we ask for them?” The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 50 gives us reasons why we ought to ask God for those needs.
First of all, in asking God to provide for our daily needs, we are acknowledging that He alone is the source of our daily provision. By praying this request, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are actually confessing that God is our faithful provider. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).
We ought to pray this daily just as we need to ask for forgiveness of our sins daily. God has promised to provide for us and to forgive us our sins. Yet He also expects us to plead for these things so that we are reminded daily that He alone is the ultimate fountain of everything good.
When we pray that God would take care of our daily bread, we admit that God is the rightful source and owner of that bread. On our own we have no right to it. But by virtue of our faith-union with the Son, the Father has granted us the privilege to ask for and to access and enjoy it. As the Creator and Sustainer of all things, He is the true owner of everything in this world.
So when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we petition our Father as His children in Christ. Scripture tells us that all things are Christ’s. He is the One Whom God appointed heir of all things (Heb. 1:2). That means that before the face of God you and I have access to the things of this world only when we have been united by faith to God in Christ.
This truth then must free us from being greedy or envious of others. In Luke 12:15, our Lord Jesus tells us, “Take care, and be on your guard against all kinds of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Since we also confess that all things come to us, not by chance, but from God’s fatherly hand, we must be very thankful when God takes care of our needs.
I say this because there are times when we receive from God what we’ve been asking and we forget to thank Him for His kindness. There are times when we have already received what we were praying for yet we keep on worrying, unsatisfied with what God has already provided. Our sinful heart easily leads us away from God to focus on ourselves and the stuff of life. We easily fall into the trap of turning God’s provision into an idol.
But God’s provision is intended to make us realize not only that He is the source of everything good but also that apart from His divine blessing “neither our work and worry nor His gifts can do us any good.”
Let me cite an example. When God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they failed to thank the Lord in return. Instead they grumbled and wished to return to Egypt. They had been crying out to the Lord for freedom from their oppressive Egyptian taskmasters. Yet when God heard their cry and brought them out of slavery, it did not do them any good.
Later, when God enable them to enter the Promise Land and enjoy the fruits of the vine, they also forgot the Lord. They forgot to thank Him. They forgot to love Him back. And they failed to keep His law. Instead, they enjoyed the benefits of being in the Promise Land without seeking the favor and blessing of the One who, in the first place, had brought them there. They enjoyed the promises of God but they failed to keep His commandments.
Such is so common even among us. And we need to fight daily against this greed and materialistic tendency in us by the Spirit’s power. Through this prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” the Holy Spirit reminds us that it’s in God alone that we find ultimate satisfaction in this life.
Satisfaction is not in the material things that we have, but in the fact that in Christ God has accepted us and adopted us as His children. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8.33).
When you and I fail to humbly recognize that God is the source of all good things and that the way to receive and enjoy these things is through our Lord Jesus Christ, we may be the wealthiest and most successful person in the community yet we can be at the same time the most grumpy person.
Until our hearts find satisfaction in God alone through His Son Jesus Christ, our worldly success and convenient life will not do us any good. In fact, if all our efforts are only aimed at success and convenience in this life we are just spending our time and energy on wrong pursuits which ultimately lead to frustration and destruction.