Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 6:00 pm
The Messenger, December 13, 2012
By WALLY BUMPAS
Special to The Messenger
Sometimes we are too spiritual for our own good. Have you ever felt ashamed to ask God for money? If so, why? Does God care about our material needs, even things that may seem trivial and unimportant? If you need $20 for bread, milk and Frosted Flakes until the next paycheck, can you ask God to somehow provide $20? Or are we only supposed to pray about “spiritual things?”
The Heidelberg Catechism is taking us through the petitions (requests) of what is known as the Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew chapter six. Remember this is God Himself, in the person of Christ, teaching us how to pray. The first petitions are about the glory of God, the will of God, and the progress of the Church in the world. Then comes a petition that might be surprising to some. Imagine you’ve never heard the Lord’s Prayer, or that you were given the task of constructing a model prayer. Would you include what comes next?
Question 125 asks: What does the fourth request mean? Answer: “Give us today our daily bread” means, Do take care of all our physical needs so that we come to know that You are the only source of everything good, and that neither our work and worry nor Your gifts can do us any good without Your blessings. And so help us to give up our trust in creatures and to put trust in You alone.
We are here on the earth for God’s glory. His glory is our purpose for existing. The beginning and end of the Lord’s Prayer make this clear. But we are here in physical bodies that must be fed and cared for. We need strength to live the God-focused life described in the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. God is concerned about our physical bodies. The Christian understanding of redemption includes our bodies. What do we celebrate and sing about in the Christmas season? We celebrate God putting on a human body! Our salvation has a physical dimension. Paul thrills us when he writes of “the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
“Bread” doesn’t just mean a loaf of bread. It represents all our physical needs. The Bible is as concerned about the physical as it is about the spiritual. So there is nothing unspiritual about praying for food, or clothes, or money to pay utilities, or whatever we may need to live our lives in this world. The present writer has had the experience of praying and then finding cash in the mailbox to pay for a sick child’s prescription. God is our Father (remember how the Lord’s Prayer begins). He delights in meeting our needs. He delights in our asking.
Then can I ask Him for a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 (the car James Bond drives)? Or a 10 bedroom mansion? Or a million dollars in my mailbox (every week)? This is why we have the rest of the Lord’s Prayer, and the rest of the Bible. As we grow in likeness to Christ, as we learn to “hallow God’s name,” as we learn to think God’s thoughts after Him, this will shape our perspective of what we need to live for Christ during our short stay here.
This petition also teaches us that we are dependent on God and His grace for everything we have. As the catechism says, “God is the only source of everything good.” Our gratitude for His daily provision should be frequent and fervent. But it is just here that our prayerlessness most comes to light. We live in the most affluent and prosperous nation that has ever existed on earth, by far. In many ways this is a blessing, but it can also breed a self-reliance that will smother and kill our prayer lives.
In this season of remembering a Child born in a stable to poor parents, let us remember that our plenty is due to the sheer grace and kindness of the God who provides. Jesus taught us to acknowledge this daily in our prayers. And to seek first His kingdom. “For your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”
Editor’s note: Wally Bumpas serves as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Dyersburg.