The second section is on three things that one prays for oneself.
When some read this, they do not understand why the Lord turns suddenly from God’s name, His kingdom, and His will to our daily bread. Is it not a big step backward to turn from such a high prayer to such low matters? Brothers and sisters, there is a reason for this. When a true man of God prays continuously for His name, kingdom, and will, the Lord takes care of the man himself. If the prayer is important, the praying one will surely stir up the attack of Satan. Hence, our bread is one thing that we have to pray for. Bread is man’s immediate need. It is also a great temptation. When a man falls into a situation where daily bread becomes a problem, he is in a great trial. On the one hand, we pray that His name be sanctified, His kingdom come, and His will be done on earth. On the other hand, as human beings, we still live on earth; we still need our daily bread. Satan knows this. Consequently, there is a need for protective prayers. This is the prayer of a Christian concerning his own need; he has to ask for the Lord’s protection. Otherwise, he may have a lofty prayer on the one hand while coming under attack on the other hand. Satan can attack. When we are short of bread, we are attacked, and our prayer will be affected. We have to see the need of this prayer. We are still human beings on earth, and our body has the need of bread. Therefore, we have to ask God to give us our bread.
This prayer also shows us that we have to look to God and pray to Him every day. The Lord teaches us to pray: “Give us today our daily bread.” We do not pray weekly, but daily. On earth we have no support, and we have no savings. To some extent we cannot pray for weekly bread or monthly bread; we have to pray for bread today. How much trust in God is required here! The Lord is not ignorant of our daily needs; He does not tell us to forget about praying for these needs. Rather, He tells us to pray daily. Actually, the Father already knows the things that we need. The Lord wants us to ask God for our bread day by day because He wants us to learn to look to the Father day by day; He wants us to exercise our faith day by day. We often extend our worries too much into the future, and we stretch our prayer too much into the future. Brothers and sisters, if we have a strong desire to be for His name, His kingdom, and His will, we will suffer great hardships. But if God will give us our daily bread, we will not have to pray for tomorrow’s bread until tomorrow comes. Brothers and sisters, do not worry about tomorrow; sufficient for the day is its own evil (Matt. 6:31-34).
On the one hand, there is the demand for our material needs. On the other hand, there is the demand of a good conscience. Day by day, we commit offenses against God. In many things, we may not have sinned, but we have incurred debts. Failing to do what we should do is to incur a debt. Failing to say what we should say is to incur a debt. It is not easy for us to maintain a good conscience before God. Every night when we go to bed, we realize that we have committed many offenses against God. They may not be sins, but they are all debts. We have to ask God to forgive us and forgive our debts before we can have a good conscience. This is very important. To be forgiven of our debts is like being forgiven of our sins; we must have it before we can have a good conscience and before we can live before God with boldness. Many brothers and sisters have the experience that as soon as their conscience has a leakage their faith is gone. We must not have any leakage in our conscience. Concerning faith and a good conscience, Paul said that “some, thrusting these away, have become shipwrecked regarding the faith” (1 Tim. 1:19). The conscience is like a ship; it cannot afford to have any holes. Once the conscience has a hole, faith leaks out. The conscience cannot have any debts; it cannot accumulate any offenses. Once it has any offense, it will have a hole, and the first thing that will leak away is our faith. If the conscience has a hole, one cannot believe even if he tries to. Once condemnation arises in the conscience, faith will leak away. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in order to maintain a good conscience, we have to ask God to forgive our debts. This is a crucial matter. This forgiving of our debt has nothing to do with our receiving of eternal life. But it has to do with our fellowship and with God’s discipline.
We have to ask God to forgive our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. If a person is mean toward other brothers and sisters and does not forget their offenses against him, he cannot ask God to forgive his debts. A narrow-minded person, who always pays attention to how others have offended, hurt, or ill-treated him, cannot pray such a prayer before God. A man must have a forgiving heart before he can boldly ask the Father: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” One cannot hold his debtor responsible while asking God to forgive his own debts. If we have not forgiven our debtors, how can we open our mouth to ask God to forgive our debts? Brothers and sisters, if we have not received something from someone, and we harbor a discontent in our heart, calculating the offenses that others have done against us, how can we have this kind of prayer to the Father? Brothers and sisters, just as our offenses before God must be forgiven, so we also must forgive the offenses of others against us. We must first forgive the debts of others before we can pray boldly to the Father: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Here we have to pay attention to one thing: The Bible tells us not only about our relationship with the Father but also about our relationship with one another as brothers and sisters. If a brother only remembers his relationship with God and forgets his relationship with other brothers and sisters and presumes that there is nothing wrong between him and God, he is deceiving himself. Brothers and sisters, never overlook your relationship with the brothers and sisters. If there is a barrier between you and another brother or sister, you will immediately lose God’s blessing. If there is something which you should do to a brother or a sister or if there is something you should say to them and you have not done it, you may not have sinned, but you have incurred a debt. Do not think that everything is all right just because you have not sinned. You must be without debt also. At the same time, if a brother or sister owes you anything and you do not forget it, you are not forgiving their debts. This will also hinder you from being forgiven by God. God will deal with you in the same way that you deal with the brothers and sisters. If you do not forget their debt and if you keep on counting and complaining, you are being grossly deceived if you think that God has forgiven your debts. The Lord clearly teaches us to pray: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” We have to pay attention to the words “as we also have forgiven.” If there were no words “have forgiven,” it would be impossible to use the word “as.” If we have not forgiven our debtors, our debts will be remembered before God. If we have removed from our heart their debt and there is nothing there anymore, we can come boldly before God and say, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” God will have to forgive us. Brothers and sisters, we must thoroughly forgive our debtors. Otherwise, it will affect our being forgiven before God.
(The Prayer Ministry of the Church, Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)