by Rev. Tim Pauls
Ingrate that I am, I’d just want to scream as a kid in confirmation. Why does the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer have to be so long? (Translation: Why does it have to be such a pain to memorize?)
Critics probably pointed out that I could have started memorizing before the drive to confirmation class, but that explanation in the catechism goes on forever. Heres just a part:
Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faith- ful neighbors, and the like.
I get it! I get it that God gives daily bread! So why does that explanation have to be so [scream] long?
Looking back, the answer is easy: because God gives so much. And He gives it to so many! As Martin Luther also writes in that explanation, “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people.” God gives daily bread to everyone. He gives daily bread to people who never say thanks. He gives to those who credit a false god for what He gives!
God delights to give. The tragedy of unbelief is this: God gives things like food and clothes to support this life, and everybody grabs it up. But when He freely gives forgiveness and salvation for the sake of Jesus, unbelief says, “No thanks. I have what I want, and I dont want any more.” Unbelief takes the little gifts and leaves the big, blood-bought ones behind.
But it’s precisely because of Jesus’ death for the sins of the world that God continues to provide daily bread as He patiently waits, for He desires that all repent and be saved.
This is why we pray the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer as we pray and rejoice in the Fourth–why its essential that God would, in His good and gracious will, break and hinder the will of our sinful nature. In our cockeyed vision, the little gifts eclipse the big ones. That’s when daily bread becomes an idol. Obvious suspects include money, pleasure and materialism. Greed and lust complain that God doesn’t give enough, while coveting accuses God of blundering when He gives what we want to others. In a subtle calamity, we value children over devout children, for every parent is tempted to regard sin as less damning when it’s his own kid who’s guilty. What wretched ingrates we can be.
How does the Lord respond? He keeps giving. He keeps providing all the daily bread we need. More than that, He keeps giving more grace, and so He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. God keeps giving, even if we fail to thank Him, and thats’ all the more reason to give thanks.
> go to www.lcms.org/?pid=1049 for downloadable and reproducible activities to teach children the Lord’s Prayer.
About the Author: The Rev. Tim Pauls serves at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Boise, Idaho.