Giving gifts to our children and grandchildren is so much fun, isn’t it? I arrived at Toys ‘R Us by 7:30 a.m. on Friday after Thanksgiving with my coffee in hand. I bought doll clothes, unicorns, knights on horseback, a princess, an elephant, and a whale–all for fun imaginative play and introduction to things I feel are important. Jesus knew we would love giving gifts to our children so He used it as an illustration to urge us to ask God for what we needed:
“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).
In this fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread.”), we are taught to ask for what we need. And, indeed, Jesus taught us to not feel badly about asking. After all, God is our kind, generous, Father who delights, like us, in giving gifts to His children. In addition, He is determined on our growing up into a people who are more like Him and in bringing us into His glorious, eternal Kingdom. So we need to make sure we are thinking rightly about God as we ask Him for what we need or even want. He is not miserly or tight-fisted. He is not mean to His children, but works out all things for their good and His glory. Also, remember, it is all about gifts. We are not to make demands; our pleading is for gifts from the King.
Thomas Watson reminded us that we are to make no demands of a King, but come every day to our Father, asking for whatever we need for that day. “Bread” in this prayer represents whatever we need. It might be meat. It includes both our physical needs and our spiritual needs. Perhaps you need patience or contentment because He has chosen not to give you meat! In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus urged us not to worry about things like clothes or food. Why, even the smallest birds are provided for so, of course, God will give these things to those who ask for them. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:32). In the model prayer, Jesus stressed “this day” and “daily.” We are to pray everyday for what we need that day. It might be necessities like money or food or drink or education or a job or medical care or joy or comfort or the salvation of someone dear, or the repentance of our nation. But, we are not to ruin our health or happiness by worrying about these things. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34). Therefore, go to God asking for what you need that day.
Keep on asking. God is our Father, after all. It is not wrong to persist. It is not more spiritual to ask for love, joy, peace or comfort than to ask for food, clothes, housing, gas, car, a bed. Remember the story Jesus told about the man who went to his friend at night, asking for bread. At first, his friend just slammed the door in his face because he wanted to sleep. Then, as the knocking persisted, he got out of bed and found the bread. If such a self-centered friend like that would help you, just think what our great God who spared not His only begotten Son will do when we keep on asking for what we need for that day? ( Luke 11:5-13). Of course, persistence should not slip into making demands. Thinking rightly about God as we pray is one remedy for that; contentment is the other. Both are learned skills. Thomas Watson said,
“There are no sins God’s people are more subject to than unbelief and impatience; they are ready, either to faint through unbelief, or to fret through impatience. When men fly out against God by discontent and impatience, it is a sign they do not believe ‘that all things work together for good, to them that love God.’…The devil blows the coals of passion and discontent, and then warms himself at the fire” (Gleanings from Thomas Watson, (first published 1915), reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995), p.38-9).
Remembering that our prayers are simply pleas for gifts from our heavenly Father who delights in giving gifts to His children, and denies them only when it is for our ultimate good, is another one of those thinking skills that women who are embracing faith in our Lord Jesus Christ can learn and practice. Remind each other to think like this. Train your children to think like this too. Ask them simple questions like, “Are you demanding again? How would you sound if you were asking me to give it to you as a surprise gift?”