Heidelberg Catechism Q.118 & Q.119

Q. 118. What did God command us to pray for?

A. Everything we need, spiritually and physically, as embraced in the prayer
Christ our Lord himself taught us.

Q.119. What is this prayer?

A. Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.
  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For the kingdom and the power
and the glory are yours forever.  Amen.


Prayer is a powerful form of communication.  In prayer, the finite person enters into a conversation with the infinite God.  Just like a young animal that is dependent upon his mother to provide all the food and shelter and warmth that is need to grow, so the Christian is called to recognize in prayer that every need we have comes from the hand of God himself.  Our physical needs for food, clothing and shelter come from God.  Our emotional needs for being valued and special are met in our Lord and our spiritual needs for forgiveness, salvation and holiness are also met in the Lord.  Then us take time to thank our Lord for meeting these needs each day.  Read Philippians 4:19-20.


Consider all your physical needs for living in this world.  Every person requires food and water.  These simple elements are the foundation of life.  Without them life cannot continue.  Though one can live without clothes, and shelter, people cannot live without food and water.  In His abundant mercy, God provides for these needs as well as the other physical needs we have.  Read Job 36:26-33 and Matthew 6:31-32.


In Jesus’ teaching on prayer, he made an astounding statement.  God knows what we need.  Because God knows what we need, we don’t have to beg for the basics of life, neither must we ask eloquently or with many words, as though our words somehow manipulate God into giving us what we want.  On the contrary, we are taught to pray simply, acknowledging our needs before God, and trusting him to meet those needs.  Read Matthew 6:7-8.


Unfortunately, too many believers allow their prayers to stop with the physical needs of life.  As a pastor, I am always amazed at the prayers that are requested in our assemblies.  Rarely are their prayers for a person’s spiritual life.  Where are the prayers for faith, hope and love to grow in our life?  Where are the prayers for perseverance in the face of suffering and persecution?  Where are the prayers for hearts of forgiveness towards those who wrong us?  Maybe they are there, but we believe these prayers are too personal to share? However the very prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray was a corporate prayer.  Every pronoun used in the Lord’s Prayer is plural.  There are plural us’ and ours’ but more important than that, it is a plural you – when y’all pray. Consider the prayers you request of others and invite them to pray with you in your spiritual needs.  Read Matthew 6:9-13.


Our heavenly Father wants to be our sole provider.  He wants us to recognize that we cannot live without his complete care and concern for every area of our life.  This is why his son died for us, and why his Spirit is given to indwell us.  We cannot live in the fullness of Christian life without God providing for all our needs.  As the chorus of a modern scriptural song goes, “My God will provide all your needs according to his riches in glory.”  Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.


If you have ever wondered why we should pray for all our physical and spiritual needs.  The words of James give a clear and succinct answer. Read James 1:16-18.  Every good thing we enjoy in this world – food to eat, shelter to live in, transportation to use, and hands, feet and minds with which to work come from God.  But so does love, joy, hope, patience, endurance, trust, and all other spiritual gifts come from God and allow us to press into this life while looking towards the next.  And finally, even our faith, as small as it is comes from the Lord.  He provides everything we need to live and breathe in this world and the next.  Praise his great name!

About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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