Jehovah Provides Our Daily Needs
“Quit being in anxious suspense; for . . . your Father knows you need these things.”
1. How does Jehovah provide for the animal creation?
HAVE you ever watched a sparrow or some other bird peck around in what appears to be mere dirt? You probably wondered what it could find to eat by pecking at the ground. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed that we can draw a lesson from the way Jehovah provides for the birds. He stated: “Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses; still your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are?” (Matthew 6:26) In marvelous ways, Jehovah provides food for all his creatures.
2, 3. What spiritual lessons can we draw from the fact that Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread?
2 Why, then, did Jesus include in his model prayer the request: “Give us today our bread for this day”? (Matthew 6:11) Deep spiritual lessons can be drawn from this simple request. First, it reminds us that Jehovah is the Great Provider. (Psalm 145:15, 16) Humans can plant and cultivate, but only God can make things grow, spiritually and physically. (1 Corinthians 3:7) What we eat and drink is a gift from God. (Acts 14:17) Asking him to supply us with our daily needs shows him that we do not take such provisions for granted. Of course, such a request does not relieve us of the responsibility to work if we are able to do so.
3 Second, our asking for “bread for this day” indicates that we should not be excessively anxious about the future. Jesus further stated: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.” (Matthew 6:31-34) The prayer for “bread for this day” sets the pattern for leading simple lives of “godly devotion along with contentment.”
Spiritual Food Day by Day
4. What incidents in the life of Jesus and of the Israelites emphasize the importance of taking in spiritual food?
4 Our prayer for daily bread should also remind us of our need for daily spiritual food. Although very hungry after a long fast, Jesus resisted Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread, saying: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’” (Matthew 4:4) Jesus here quoted the prophet Moses, who told the Israelites: “[Jehovah] humbled you and let you go hungry and fed you with the manna, which neither you had known nor your fathers had known; in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth does man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) The way in which Jehovah supplied the manna provided the Israelites not only with physical food but also with spiritual lessons. For one thing, they were to “pick up each his amount day for day.” If they gathered more than enough for the day, the remainder began to smell and breed worms. (Exodus 16:4, 20) Yet, this did not occur on the sixth day when they had to gather double the daily amount to cover their needs for the Sabbath. (Exodus 16:5, 23, 24) So the manna impressed upon their minds that they had to be obedient and that their lives depended not just on bread but on “every expression of Jehovah’s mouth.”
5. How does Jehovah provide us with daily spiritual food?
5 We likewise need to feed daily on spiritual food provided by Jehovah through his Son. To this end, Jesus has appointed a “faithful and discreet slave” to provide “food at the proper time” for the household of faith. (Matthew 24:45) That faithful slave class not only supplies an abundance of spiritual food in the form of Bible study aids but also encourages us to do daily Bible reading. (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3) Like Jesus, we too can obtain spiritual sustenance by daily putting forth effort to learn about and to do Jehovah’s will.
Forgiveness of Sins
6. For what debts are we to ask forgiveness, and on what conditions is Jehovah willing to cancel them?
6 The next request in the model prayer is: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Jesus was not here speaking of debts of money. He had in mind the forgiveness of our sins. In Luke’s record of the model prayer, this request reads: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone that is in debt to us.” (Luke 11:4) Thus, when we sin, it is as if we incur a debt to Jehovah. But our loving God is prepared to ‘blot out,’ or cancel, that debt if we sincerely repent, “turn around,” and ask him for forgiveness on the basis of faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice.
7. Why should we pray for forgiveness every day?
7 From another standpoint, we sin when we miss the mark of Jehovah’s standards of righteousness. Through inherited sin, we all transgress in word, deed, and thought or we fail to do what we should do. (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; James 3:2; 4:17) Therefore, whether we are conscious of having sinned during the day or not, we need to include in our daily prayers a request for forgiveness of our sins.
8. What should prayer for forgiveness cause us to do, with what beneficial result?
8 Prayer for forgiveness should follow honest self-examination, repentance, and confession, based on faith in the redemptive power of Christ’s shed blood. (1 John 1:7-9) To prove the sincerity of our prayer, we must back up our request for forgiveness by “works that befit repentance.” (Acts 26:20) We can then have faith in Jehovah’s readiness to forgive our sins. (Psalm 86:5; 103:8-14) The result is incomparable peace of mind, “the peace of God that excels all thought,” which in turn “will guard [our] hearts and [our] mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) But Jesus’ model prayer teaches us even more about what we must do to obtain forgiveness of our sins.
To Be Forgiven, We Must Forgive
9, 10. (a) What comment did Jesus add to the model prayer, and what did this underscore? (b) How did Jesus further illustrate our need to be forgiving?
9 Interestingly, the request “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” is the only part of the model prayer that Jesus commented on. After concluding the prayer, he added: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14, 15) Thus, Jesus made it very clear that our being forgiven by Jehovah is contingent on our being willing to forgive others.
10 On another occasion, Jesus gave an illustration showing the need for us to be forgiving if we expect Jehovah to forgive us. He told of a king who generously canceled an enormous debt that a slave had incurred. The king later severely punished this same man when he refused to cancel the incomparably smaller debt of a fellow slave. Jesus concluded his illustration by saying: “In like manner my heavenly Father will also deal with you if you do not forgive each one his brother from your hearts.” (Matthew 18:23-35) The lesson is clear: The debt of sin that Jehovah has forgiven each of us is immeasurably greater than any transgression anyone may have committed against us. What is more, Jehovah forgives us daily. Surely, then, we can forgive the occasional offense others commit against us.
11. What counsel given by the apostle Paul will we follow if we expect Jehovah to forgive us, with what fine results?
11 The apostle Paul wrote: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) Mutual forgiveness makes for peace among Christians. Paul further urged: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:12-14) All of this is implied in the prayer Jesus taught us: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Protection When Under Temptation
12, 13. (a) What could not be the meaning of the next-to-last request made in the model prayer? (b) Who is the great Tempter, and what is the meaning of our prayer not to be brought into temptation?
12 The next-to-last request in Jesus’ model prayer is: “Do not bring us into temptation.” (Matthew 6:13) Did Jesus mean that we should ask Jehovah not to tempt us? This cannot be, for the disciple James was inspired to write: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) Furthermore, the psalmist wrote: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3) Jehovah does not watch for our every mistake, and he certainly does not try to trip us up. So, what does this part of the model prayer mean?
13 The one who is trying to trip us up, to cause us to fall by crafty acts, and even to devour us is Satan the Devil. (Ephesians 6:11, footnote) He is the great Tempter. (1 Thessalonians 3:5) By praying not to be brought into temptation, we are asking Jehovah not to allow us to fall when we are under temptation. We are asking him to help us not to be “overreached by Satan,” not to succumb to temptations. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Our prayer is for us to remain in “the secret place of the Most High,” receiving the spiritual protection afforded those who recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty in all they do.
14. How does the apostle Paul assure us that Jehovah will not abandon us if we look to Him when we are under temptation?
14 We can be sure that if that is our sincere desire, expressed in our prayers and in our actions, Jehovah will never abandon us. The apostle Paul assures us: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”
“Deliver Us From the Wicked One”
15. Why is it more important than ever to pray for deliverance from the wicked one?
15 According to the most reliable manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures, Jesus’ model prayer ends with the words: “Deliver us from the wicked one.”* (Matthew 6:13) Protection from the Devil is all the more necessary in this time of the end. Satan and his demons are waging war with the anointed remnant, “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus,” and with their companions of the “great crowd.” (Revelation 7:9; 12:9, 17) The apostle Peter admonished Christians: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, solid in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:8, 9) Satan would like to stop our witnessing work, and by means of his agents on earth
16. What means does Jehovah have at his disposal to help his servants who are under trial?
16 Jehovah allowed his Son to be tempted. But after Jesus opposed the Devil, using God’s Word as a protection, Jehovah sent angels to strengthen him. (Matthew 4:1-11) Likewise, Jehovah uses his angels to help us if we pray with faith and make him our refuge. (Psalm 34:7; 91:9-11) The apostle Peter wrote: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.”
Full Deliverance Is Near
17. By giving us the model prayer, how did Jesus put things in their proper perspective?
17 In the model prayer, Jesus puts things in their proper perspective. Our prime concern should be the sanctification of Jehovah’s great and holy name. Since the instrument for accomplishing this is the Messianic Kingdom, we pray for the Kingdom to come to destroy all imperfect human kingdoms, or governments, and to ensure that God’s will takes place fully as in heaven also upon earth. Our hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth depends on the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the recognition throughout the universe of his righteous sovereignty. After praying for these all-important things, we can pray for our daily needs, forgiveness of our sins, and deliverance from temptations and the wiles of the wicked one, Satan the Devil.
18, 19. How does Jesus’ model prayer help us to remain vigilant and to make our hope “firm to the end”?
18 Our complete deliverance from the wicked one and his corrupt system of things is getting near. Satan is well aware that he has only “a short period of time” left to vent his “great anger” on the earth, particularly on Jehovah’s faithful servants. (Revelation 12:12, 17) In the composite sign of “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus foretold exciting events, some of which are still ahead of us. (Matthew 24:3, 29-31) As we see these occur, our hope for deliverance will become brighter. Jesus stated: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”
19 The succinct model prayer Jesus gave his disciples provides us with a sound guide as to what to include in our prayers as the end draws near. May we remain confident that right up to the end, Jehovah will continue to provide us with our daily needs, both spiritual and material. Our prayerful vigilance will enable us to “make fast our hold on the confidence we had at the beginning firm to the end.”
Some older Bibles, such as the King James Version, end the Lord’s Prayer with what is known as a doxology (an expression of praise to God): “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” The Jerome Biblical Commentary states: “The doxology . . . is not found in the most reliable [manuscripts].”
By Way of Review
• What things are implied by our request for “bread for this day”?
• Explain the prayer “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
• What does it mean when we ask Jehovah not to bring us into temptation?
• Why do we need to pray “deliver us from the wicked one”?
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We must forgive others if we are to be forgiven
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