Sermon: What to Pray For
Scripture: Matthew 6:11
In this week’s lessons, after first praying for God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will, Jesus also taught us how to pray for things that pertain to our own interests.
Theme: Our Willing God
One of the first great lessons that a Christian must learn about prayer is to put God’s interests first. After that there comes the area of our own interests—our work, families, homes, friends, finances, and other things. These are also important, and not only to us. What about these interests? Are we also to pray about them? The Bible says, “Yes.” Moreover, it teaches us that we are to pray again and again for each one.
In the prayer we have been studying, Jesus taught His disciples to begin to pray for God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will: “Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” However, having prayed for these things, and thus having established a correct set of priorities, they were then to pray for human interests also. The last petitions say, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” These are requests for physical needs, forgiveness of sins, and spiritual victories. The prayer then ends with a new acknowledgment of God’s glory.
These three petitions cover all of our physical and spiritual needs. On this point Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has accurately written, “Our whole life is found there in those three petitions, and that is what makes this prayer so amazing. In such a small compass our Lord has covered the whole life of the believer in every respect. Our physical needs, our mental needs, and of course our spiritual needs are included. The body is remembered, the soul is remembered, the spirit is remembered. And that is the whole of man.”1
We are going to look at the first of these three requests this week.
The first request deals with our physical needs, for the phrase “our daily bread” includes by implication all of the necessities of life. It is a prayer for food and clothing, a home, a good job, and many other physical necessities. At the same time, it should be evident that it does not encourage us to pray for superfluities. Philippians 4:19 says that God “shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” but it does not say that God shall supply all your wants. God gives many of us the obvious luxuries of life, sometimes, so it seems, to our spiritual hurt. But we are nowhere told to ask for these things. We are only told to ask for necessities.
The basis of our asking for life’s necessities is found in God’s avowed purpose to give what we ask for. A master cares for the needs of his servants. A general meets the needs of his soldiers. A father provides for the needs of his sons. Each is willing. Thus, in the same way, our Father in heaven cares for those who have become His children through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
1D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967), vol. 2, 67-68.
In our prayers, what items come first? Give specific examples.
What does it mean to pray for our daily bread?
Application: When you pray, do you put God’s interests ahead of your own? Or do you tend to focus on your own interests as much as, or even more than, God’s interests?
For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Philip Ryken’s message, “When You Pray.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)