Dietrich Bonhoeffer: This petition is a test

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Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

“Give us this day our daily bread.” As long as the disciples are on earth, they should not be ashamed to pray for their bodily needs. He who created men on earth will keep and preserve their bodies. It is not God’s will that His creation should be despised. The disciples are told to ask for bread not only for themselves but for all men on the earth, for all men are their brethren. The disciples realize that while it is a fruit of the earth, bread really comes down from above as the gift of God alone. That is why they have to ask for it before they take it. And since it is the bread of God, it is new every day. They do not ask to lay up a store for the future, but are satisfied with what God gives them day by day. Through that bread their lives are spared a little longer, that they may enjoy life in fellowship with Jesus, praising and thanking him for his loving-kindness. This petition is a test of their faith, for it shows whether they believe that all things work together for good to them that love God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in Cost of Discipleship (New York: Macmillan, 1959) 185-186.

I hope you enjoy the new header photo. I was blessed to catch and release 10 brook trout on a 5-mile hike to Beaver Brook yesterday with Jenni. I marvel at God’s creativity in their colorful markings.

Most people know the Lord’s prayer. Few grasp the gravity of Bonhoeffer’s point. This petition really is a test. Will we trust in the loving-kindness of God to look after us each and every day or is our confidence in ourselves?

Anew and afresh I challenge you to read today’s Scripture in the context of the instructions of Jesus. But this time, read it from this perspective. Notice the themes of reverence and dependence on God coupled with forgiveness of debt and sin.

“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:9-15

As it concludes, we see the evidence for Bonhoeffer’s point. How we live shows if we believe this. Disciples will appear as people of reverence and dependence on God who forgive debts and sins. And if we don’t live this out, our lack of obedience actually seals our own unforgiveness!

This post aims to sober readers to the gravity of choosing reverence and dependence in God’s loving-kindness and having a right relationship to money and people. Those that choose independence, evidenced by how they handle money and relate to people, fail the test and forfeit the free gift of forgiveness. Don’t let that be you.

This petition is test. Will you pass?