By Subdeacon Wasim Shehata
“look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” [Matthew 6:26- 27] | Contemplation On The Lord’s Prayer
In the previous part, we took a look at the first part of the Lord’s prayer. In this part we will continue to take a deeper look at the Lord’s prayer.
Lord’s Prayer | IV – Give us our daily bread today
How many people have drowned in the worldly matters by trying to secure themselves in several ways, such as financially? While we ask God to provide us with our daily bread, we often try to provide it for ourselves. This could be due too little trust in God, due to feelings of anxiety (if I will not provide myself with my daily bread, nobody will) or by simply relying solely on our own strength. God prepares our daily bread for us on a daily basis, why should we turn that down?
Regarding trying to provide our daily bread for ourselves, Christ taught us that ‘’look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?’’ (Matthew 6:26- 27).
A lot of people, trying to silence their conscience, will say things such as ‘’without working we will not be able to eat’’ or ‘’by sitting at home the bills will not be paid’’, and both statements are, to a certain extent, true.
For example, Paul the Apostle was a tent maker (Acts 18:1-3), and he discussed this argument in his second letter to the Thessalonians, in which he said about himself and his fellow apostles ‘’nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you’’ (2 Thessalonians 3:8) because ‘’for even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat’’ (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
About those who did not want to work, Paul said ‘’now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread’’ (2 Thessalonians 3:12). This shows that work is indeed important, but not a goal on itself.
To work and make money is a means, and while we do what is in our hands, God will do His part and provide us with sufficient things. Even if we would get temporarily suspended, a cut in our pay check or even fired, as long as we try to do what we can, God will provide somehow. Our daily bread will come, in whatever form. Unfortunately, most people, in such circumstances, just want an amount of money, thinking it will fix everything.
Although that could be true in some cases, the real need is to be able to trust God in His promise of providing our daily bread no matter what.
Lord’s Prayer | V – Forgive us our debts just as we forgive our debtors
This is one of the most intense parts of the entire prayer. This sentence explicitly teaches us that whatever we do with our brothers will be done with us. If we would forgive our brothers and debtors, then we are worthy of forgiveness from God, but, however, if we do not forgive our brothers and debtors, we ask God not to forgive us as we also do not forgive others. Hereby Christ taught is that the condition that needs to be fulfilled is forgiving others, else one would explicitly ask God not to forgive him.
What an enormously charged statement! Paul teaches us that ‘’bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do’’ (Colossians 3:13) and ‘’and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you’’ (Ephesians 4:32).
If God offers us daily forgiveness for countless sins, are we not to forgive others? If we do not forgive another, we are like the man who asked forgiveness from his lord, because he could not pay his debt, but when his slave asked him the same thing, he refused (Matthew 18:21-35). Unfortunately, most people confuse two things regarding the forgiveness of others, namely to want to forgive someone, or knowing that we must do it, and actually being able to forgive someone.
As humans, we are weak and we are not always able to live Gods word due to our weaknesses and human nature. Therefore we should not be ashamed, but rather acknowledge that we are not able to forgive someone. Although this acknowledgement does not help us directly to forgive others, it opens the door of seeking Gods help, and this is ultimately how we will be able to forgive others. When one harms us, our emotions often get the best of us.
We say things like ‘’I want revenge!’’, ‘’who does x think he is? He could approach me and say sorry’’ and ‘’I am not saying sorry for anything’’. Our emotional responses are clearly not in line with how we should respond based on Gods word. This leads to an emotional threshold between how we respond and how we should respond, and we can overcome this threshold only by prayer and Gods assistance.
One could pray something like ‘’o Lord, I know that I have to forgive [name], but I am not able to do so due to my human weakness. I even want to revenge myself, and see [name] hurt as I am hurting. Lord, I beg you to provide me with Your assistance to be able to rise above my human emotions and be able to forgive [name]. I, also a sinner, am not able to forgive another sinner, oh my weakness! Please, Lord, help me to overcome myself!’’.
A beautiful story regarding the forgiveness of others is from Abba Isidore of Scetis, ‘’Abba Poemen also said this about Abba Isidore that whenever he addressed the brothers in church he said only one thing, “Forgive your brother, so that you also may be forgiven’’.
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