“Your Father knows what you need.”—MATT. 6:8.
1-3. Why did one sister feel sure that Jehovah knows what we need?
LANA will never forget what happened one day in Germany in the summer of 2012. She feels that two of her specific prayers were answered. She offered the first prayer while on a long train ride to the airport. She asked Jehovah to open the way for her to give a witness. She offered the second prayer after she arrived at the airport and learned that her flight had been delayed until the next day. Lana prayed about the fact that she had used up most of her European currency and had no place to stay.
2 Hardly had Lana finished the second prayer when she heard someone say, “Hello, Lana, what are you doing here?” The young man who was speaking was a former schoolmate. He was with his mother and grandmother, who were seeing him off on a flight to South Africa. On learning of Lana’s situation, the mother, Elke, warmly invited Lana to stay with them. Elke and her mother were hospitable to Lana and kept asking questions about her beliefs and her work as a full-time evangelizer.
3 The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, Lana answered more Bible questions, and she got her hosts’ contact information in order to follow up their interest. Lana returned home safely and continues her service as a regular pioneer. She feels that the “Hearer of prayer” was involved in how things worked out.—Ps. 65:2.
4. What needs will we consider?
4 When we are suddenly faced with a problem, we may have no difficulty praying for help, and Jehovah is delighted to hear such pleas from his loyal ones. (Ps. 34:15; Prov. 15:8) If we meditate on the model prayer, however, we may find that there are other greater needs that we might overlook. For example, consider how our spiritual needs are revealed in the last three requests of the model prayer. And is there more we can do to live in harmony with the fourth request, concerning our daily bread?—Read Matthew 6:11-13.
“GIVE US TODAY OUR BREAD FOR THIS DAY”
5, 6. Why is our request for our bread for the day important even if we have sufficient material things?
5 Notice that this is a personal request not purely for “my” bread for the day but for “our” bread for the day. Victor, a circuit overseer in Africa, explains: “I often sincerely thank Jehovah that my wife and I don’t have to be seriously concerned about where our next meal will come from, nor do we have to worry about who will pay the rent. Our brothers kindly look after us every day. But I do pray that those helping us will manage to handle the economic pressures they face.”
6 If we have sufficient food for many days, we can think of brothers who live in poverty or who are affected by disasters. We should not only pray for them but also act in harmony with our prayers. For example, we can share what we have with fellow worshippers in need. We can also regularly contribute to the worldwide work, knowing that such funds are used wisely.—1 John 3:17.
7. How did Jesus illustrate his advice that we should “never be anxious about the next day”?
7 In referring to our daily bread, Jesus likely meant our immediate needs. Thus, he went on to show how God clothes the wildflowers, and then he said: “Will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith? So never be anxious and say, . . . ‘What are we to wear?’” He concluded by repeating this important advice: “Never be anxious about the next day.” (Matt. 6:30-34) This shows that rather than be materialistic, we should be content with our basic daily needs. Such needs may include suitable accommodations, employment to provide for our family, and wisdom to cope with health concerns. If we were to pray only for such physical needs, however, it would indicate an imbalance. We have spiritual needs that are of much greater importance.
8. Jesus’ reference to our daily bread should remind us of what important need? (See opening image.)
8 Jesus’ reference to our daily bread should remind us of our need for spiritual food. “Man must live,” said our Master, “not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matt. 4:4) So we should continue to pray that Jehovah will keep on feeding us with timely spiritual food.
“FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS”
9. In what sense are our sins “debts”?
9 Why did Jesus use the word “debts,” whereas on a later occasion, he spoke of “sins”? (Matt. 6:12; Luke 11:4) Over 60 years ago, this journal nicely explained: “A sin of transgression against God’s law puts us in debt to him. . . . For our sin God could demand and exact our lives. . . . He could withdraw his peace from us, breaking off all peaceful relations with us. . . . We owe him love, expressed in obedience; and when we sin we fail in paying our debt of love to him, for sin is unloving toward God.”—1 John 5:3.
10. On what basis can Jehovah forgive our sins, and how should we feel about that?
10 Our daily need for forgiveness highlights the only legal basis on which God can cancel our sins—Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Though this ransom was paid nearly 2,000 years ago, we should cherish it as if it were a gift given today. “The ransom price” for our lives “is so precious” that nothing any imperfect human could do for us would come near to paying it. (Read Psalm 49:7-9; 1 Peter 1:18, 19.) Indeed, we should never cease to thank Jehovah for this great gift. Also, the expression “our sins,” not “my sins,” should remind us that all in our family of worshippers need this merciful provision. Clearly, Jehovah wants us to be concerned not only about our own spiritual welfare but also about that of others, including those who might have sinned against us. Usually, such sins are minor and give us an opportunity to show that we truly love our brothers and are willing to forgive, as God has mercifully forgiven us.—Col. 3:13.
11. Why is it important to have a forgiving spirit?
11 Sadly, as imperfect humans, we may sometimes harbor a grudge against another. (Lev. 19:18) If we talk about the matter, others may side with us, causing a division in the congregation. If we allow such a situation to continue, it would show a lack of appreciation for God’s mercy and the ransom. Our Father will cease to apply to us the value of his Son’s sacrifice if we display an unforgiving spirit. (Matt. 18:35) Jesus elaborated on this immediately after giving the model prayer. (Read Matthew 6:14, 15.) Finally, to benefit from God’s forgiveness, we must strive to avoid making a practice of serious sin. Our desire to avoid practicing sin leads to the next request.—1 John 3:4, 6.
“DO NOT BRING US INTO TEMPTATION”
12, 13. (a) What happened to Jesus shortly after his baptism? (b) Why must we take responsibility if we fall into temptation? (c) What did Jesus accomplish by remaining faithful till death?
12 Considering what happened to Jesus shortly after his baptism can help us to understand the need for the request: “Do not bring us into temptation.” Jesus was led into the wilderness by God’s spirit. Why? “To be tempted by the Devil.” (Matt. 4:1; 6:13) Should that surprise us? Not if we grasp the main reason why God sent his Son to the earth. That was to settle the issue raised when Adam and Eve rejected God’s sovereignty. Questions needed time to be settled. For example, was something wrong with the way God created man? Was it possible for a perfect human to uphold God’s sovereignty regardless of pressures from “the wicked one”? And would mankind be better off independent of God’s rulership, as Satan implied? (Gen. 3:4, 5) Answering such questions would require time but would show all intelligent creation that Jehovah exercises his sovereignty in a beneficial way.
13 Jehovah is holy and therefore never tempts anyone to do evil. Rather, it is the Devil who is “the Tempter.” (Matt. 4:3) The Devil can create tempting situations. Yet, it is up to each individual whether he will allow himself to be brought into temptation or not. (Read James 1:13-15.) For his part, Jesus immediately rejected each temptation by the use of a relevant quotation from God’s Word. Thus, Jesus upheld God’s rightful sovereignty. But Satan did not give up. He waited “until another convenient time.” (Luke 4:13) Jesus continued to resist all of Satan’s efforts to break his integrity. Christ upheld the righteousness of Jehovah’s sovereignty and proved that a perfect human can be faithful despite the most extreme test. However, Satan attempts to ensnare Jesus’ followers, including you.
14. We need to do what in order not to fall into temptation?
14 Because of the ongoing issue regarding God’s sovereignty, Jehovah allows the Tempter to use this world to tempt us. God is not bringing us into temptation. On the contrary, he has confidence in us and he wants to help us. Out of respect for our free will, though, Jehovah does not automatically prevent us from falling into temptation. We have to do two things—remain spiritually awake and persist in prayer. How does Jehovah answer our prayers?
15, 16. (a) What are some temptations that we need to resist? (b) Who is responsible if a person falls into temptation?
15 Jehovah gives us his powerful holy spirit, which can strengthen us and help us to resist temptation. God also forewarns us through his Word and the congregation about situations that we must avoid, such as spending excessive time, money, and energy on nonessential material things. Espen and Janne live in an affluent European country. For many years, they were regular pioneers in a part of their country where the need was great. With the birth of their first child, they had to stop pioneering, and now they have a second child. “We often pray to Jehovah,” says Espen, “that we may not fall into temptation now that we are unable to spend as much time as we previously did in theocratic activities. We ask Jehovah to help us maintain our spirituality and zeal for the ministry.”
16 Another temptation that has come to the fore in modern times is the viewing of pornography. If we fall into such a temptation, we cannot blame Satan. Why? Because Satan and his world cannot force us to do anything against our will. Some have given in to this temptation by allowing their minds to dwell on what is bad. But we can resist, even as thousands of our brothers have done.—1 Cor. 10:12, 13.
“DELIVER US FROM THE WICKED ONE”
17. (a) How can we live in harmony with our request to be delivered from the wicked one? (b) What relief must be near?
17 To live in harmony with the request “deliver us from the wicked one,” we must strive to be “no part of [Satan’s] world.” We must “not love either [Satan’s] world or the things in the world.” (John 15:19; 1 John 2:15-17) Doing so is an ongoing struggle. What a relief it will be when Jehovah answers this request by removing Satan and causing his wicked world to pass away! We must remember, though, that when Satan was hurled out of heaven, he knew that his time was short. Enraged, he does all he can to make us break our integrity. So we must keep praying for deliverance from him.—Rev. 12:12, 17.
18. To survive the end of Satan’s world, what must we continue to do?
18 Do you desire such a happy outcome? Then continue to pray for God’s Kingdom to sanctify God’s name and cause his will to be done on earth. Look to Jehovah to supply your spiritual and physical needs. Yes, be determined to live in harmony with the model prayer.