Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 50
Lord's Day 50
What is the fourth petition?
Give us this day our daily bread.
Provide us with all our bodily needs
so that we may acknowledge
that Thou art the only fountain of all good,
and that our care and labour,
and also Thy gifts,
cannot do us any good
without Thy blessing.
Grant therefore that we may
withdraw our trust
from all creatures,
and place it only in Thee
Q. & A. 125 Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
- The third petition already directed our attention to the earth when it spoke about office and calling. The fourth petition now asks that the Lord will maintain our earthly life. And this is also in order that his name be hallowed. For we may not separate the fourth petition from the first. We pray for bread, so that we may do God's will, in order that his kingdom come and his name be hallowed.
- Christ teaches us to pray for Bread. As the Catechism correctly states, this points to “all our bodily needs” (home and clothes, employees and employment, etc.). We employ the same concept when we say that a person “earns his bread,” to indicate thereby that he has the necessaries of life. But by speaking of bread, the Master teaches us to be modest. And he curbs our desires even more by teaching us to pray for what we need today only.
Give us This Day; and our Daily bread. The word “daily” also means “sufficient,” or “adequate” in this context.
The Lord promised us that he will give us what we need in our struggle and in our suffering in order to carry out his work. Christ teaches us to point to that promise when he teaches us to pray for Our bread, that is, that which was promised to us for our livelihood.
- The Lord does not teach us to pray for manna, but for bread. And bread does not fall from the sky, but comes about through much arduous work by people. If we are going to pray for our livelihood in the manner taught by the Lord, we must also be willing to work! But, however much we are required to work, we Pray for our bread from the Lord. For we acknowledge “that Thou art the only fountain of all good, and that all our care and labour, and also Thy gifts, cannot do us any good without Thy blessing.” For it is not the gifts, but only God's blessing which enriches and grants life. His blessing is more often over the lesser things than over the greater!
- Of ourselves we place our trust in creatures. That is why this petition also contains the plea: Grant, therefore, that we may withdraw our trust (our trust is attached to, but must be withdrawn!) from all creatures and place it only in Thee.
- Note that the Saviour teaches us to pray also for others. The petition does not say: Provide Me, but Provide Us. The poor person may not forget the rich in his prayer and the rich may not forget the poor! Moreover, he who receives much ought to bear in mind that he did not pray only for himself and that he did not receive only for himself. God places the bread of the servants in the hands of the masters and that of the poor in the hands of the rich.
- Why do we pray for bread?
- What does the word “bread” point to? How does the Lord curb our desires in this petition? Why do we speak of Our bread?
- Does this petition also point out that we must work? How does it do that? Why, then, must we still pray?
- Which plea does this petition also contain?
- Do we pray for bread only for ourselves? Does this have any significance for what we have? What?