Bible Study – Matthew 6:11,13
February 11, 2007

11Give us this day our daily bread,
12and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
(ESV)

Prayer, as we’ve seen so far, is an offering – an act of worship. Yet it is also a close, personal expression of a family relationship between a loving Father and His adopted children.

We’ve looked at how there are two critical elements of prayer modeled in our passage that we may be prone to sometimes overlook: first, Adoration, where we offer up to God our honour and glory and praise for who He is and what He has done; and second, Confession, where we humbly admit our sinful shortcomings and inability to please God on our own, asking forgiveness for our transgressions.

Today we move on to perhaps the most well-known element of prayer: Supplication. (Yes, I’m using longer and older words, but there is a reason for it – trust me). What is supplication?

Supplication is, quite simply, to ask for something humbly and earnestly. It carries the connotation of a beggar asking for what he does not deserve. And this is the tone of Christian prayer. Remember, Jesus opened the Lord’s prayer asking that God’s will be done – thus placing God’s will as higher than our own. The apostle John said this: 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5)

We do not claim things in prayer. We do not demand or expect things from God. This would be an act of arrogance, not humility. God is our King and Lord, and He gives all His good gifts in accordance with His will. And remember what I’ve stressed several times: God’s highest aim is to exalt himself, and part of this is our recognition that we are tiny and insignificant before him. In short, God’s glory requires we be humble. God rejoices when His people are humble, as He told Isaiah:

But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (66:2)

How does humility, and the requirement to ask according to God’s will, affect what we ask for? That’s what we will look at today.

Small Group Discussion Questions

1. Why do we ask God for things in prayer?

God is the source of all good gifts (James 1:17). All power and strength rest in Him. Even the beating of our hearts and the breath of our lungs depends on His continued provision.

More fundamentally, we are commanded to!

2. What are we assuming, or confessing, about God when we pray? What things must be true about God in order for prayer to be possible?

We assume God has the power to grant what we ask for. This entails that God is sovereign – that He has such absolute control of all things as to be able to arrange the lives of billions in order to make answers to prayer possible.

We assume God hears us in what we ask. God is not distant, nor is He some impersonal force or principle. He is a living, personal being who is with us at every moment.

We assume God loves us and cares about us. This means that all obstacles to fellowship between us and God have been removed. The problem of sin must have been dealt with. This is a further reminder of the need for confession of sin in prayer – and a reminder that God has entered history in Jesus Christ to deal once and for all with sin.

3. Read verses 11 and 13. What is the basic difference between the two requests?

Verse 11 speaks of bread – our physical needs. Verse 13 asks for protection form temptation and deliverance – our spiritual needs.

4. In verse 11, what is Jesus asking for? Is it just bread?

Jesus is not asking for luxuries – only necessities. We need bread – that is, food – to live. Implied here would be anything required to survive and serve God – clothing, water, shelter. Depending on one’s situation, it could mean transportation, money (for the above-mentioned needs), physical health and healing, and other things.

5. Why does he stress that the bread is “daily?”

This stresses that we cannot do it ourselves – God must constantly provide for us. This prayer recognizes that He is faithful to us. Not one day can go by where we do it on our own. Even unbelievers and animals have their needs met by God – even though He owes them nothing, he does this graciously.

It also reinforces the point that we are to ask for what we need. Jesus does not ask for a lifetime supply of bread, or for more than he can use. Only what is needed for the day.

6. The choice of words in verse 13 is interesting – to God, Jesus asks: “Lead us not into temptation.” What does this mean?

The next part of the verse helps us understand – this is part of the request for deliverance from evil. The primary meaning is that we are to ask God to lead us away from temptation – to help us avoid it. The best way to keep from sin is to stay far away from it.

7. Does God tempt us?

God does not personally tempt or entice us to sin. He is holy, and to do so would be wrong. As we saw in James, 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1)

That said, God is in the business of making us grow spiritually. This process includes testing. In Deuteronomy, God commands His people to test the words of prophets to see if they accord with the Bible – and if they do not, it is because the Lord is “testing you.” The book of Job proves that God will permit Satan to attack Christians as a means of helping us grow spiritually, and teaching us lessons. Even Jesus allowed himself to be tempted in the wilderness. The aim is to exalt God’s glory by displaying a triumph over evil.

So God, on occasion, chooses to remove the restraining grace of the Holy Spirit that keeps our sinful desires in check, in order to force us to remember by whose power we can withstand temptation. Such spiritual tests drive us to our knees for more of God’s strength, asking for help to fight evil.

This prayer, then, is also a humble request to be spared such testing, and an expression of reliance on God for strength to resist Satan.

8. Jesus closes this prayer asking, “Deliver us from evil.” Why ask this? Can’t we get out of it ourselves?

– Jeff Jones

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