11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
There is something about this prayer that has always challenged me and continues to challenge me to this day as I learn about how God wants us to communicate with Him. Jesus never asks for anything in this prayer, He commands it. He doesn’t do it in a rude or disrespectful way, but He prays assured that God will provide these things. This is a result of knowing God’s goodness, ability, and will. This prayer is loaded with faith in who God is and what He wants for His children on earth. Jesus isn’t asking the Father to do things hoping they will come to pass; He is foretelling what is going to happen as a result of this conversation because He knows what God will do. In James 1, Jesus’ brother after telling his readers to be joyful about tribulation, gives us the key to our daily provision:
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
When we pray in faith, it isn’t a suggestion to God, it is a bold approach to Him knowing and expecting Him to do what you pray about because you know His will. If you do not know His will, James says we must ask for it and do so expecting God to enlighten us. The author of Hebrews really explains to us the kind of relationship we get to have with God the Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice in chapter 4:
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The word “confidence” in verse 16 is usually translated into “boldness”. The original Greek word parrhesia communicates a meaning of “unreserved speech or freedom in speaking with boldness and confidence and the assurance that what you ask for will come to pass.” I’ve always felt weird “commanding” that God do something and maybe you have too. Yet as we learn more about how Jesus instructs us to boldly pray to our Father in heaven, we see that it isn’t about manipulating God or telling Him what to do. It is a confidence in knowing His will and believing He will give us what we ask for according to that will. We know He will provide for us physically. We know that He will forgive us as long as we continue to forgive others. We know that He does not lead us into temptation and in fact saves us from the evil of the world. These are all things according to His will and if we trust Him to do these things, they will come to pass.
We must be careful, however, not to put ourselves in a position to become disillusioned. I think that it would be easy to fool ourselves by commanding things from God and then when we expect something and it doesn’t happen, we cannot take it personally. As we will study later in this sermon, God only gives us things according to His will and what He knows is best. This is why James tells us to seek God’s wisdom because then we will know for what to pray and how to do so. Our prayers to God, although they help us grow in our relationship with God, are for His glory. So, if we pray with boldness and command things to happen that don’t happen, let us remember it isn’t about the craftiness of our prayers or the strength of our voice; it is about God’s glory. This is why Jesus finishes the prayer as He does. Everything is for the glory of God and we recognize that all spiritual power comes from Him, not us.