“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
Did you ever notice how often little children ask for things? “Daddy, may I have some juice?” “Mommy, will you help me get dressed?” “Grandpa, will you read to me?” Especially when children are small, they are entirely dependent upon their parents and other beloved adults for all things. They must be constantly asking their parents to provide them with those things they need.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us that we are not much different from these little children. In fact, in another place, He teaches us that we must become as little children, or we shall have no part in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:3). As little children, we are entirely dependent upon our heavenly Father for all things. As little children, we must constantly be asking Him to provide for all our needs.
These requests to God are called petitions. The Lord’s Prayer, which the Heidelberg Catechism is now explaining, contains six of these petitions, explained in Lord’s Days 47-52. When we pray, we must not only give thanks to God, praise God, and confess our sins to God; we must also petition God to supply all of our needs.
The six petitions of the Lord’s Prayer can be divided into two groups of three. The first group includes petitions that have to do with God’s glory and honor: hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done. The second group includes petitions that have to do with our needs as creatures who are also sinners: give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our debts; lead us not into temptation. This order is appropriate. God is always first, even in our petitions.
The big question, however, is why our Lord taught us to request our needs from Him. If God knows all things, including our needs, why must we still make petitions to Him? More on this next time.
Remember: we are children of our heavenly Father. As children, we depend upon Him. As dependents, we must ask Him for all things we need. And asking, we shall receive.