Heidelberg Catechism Lesson 50

Q. 125. Which is the fourth petition?
 
Give us this day our daily bread”;[1] that is, be pleased to provide us with all things necessary for the body,[2] that we may thereby acknowledge thee to be the only fountain of all good,[3] and that neither our care nor industry, nor even thy gifts, can profit us without thy blessing;[4] and therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it alone in thee.[5]
[1] Matthew 6:11;  [2] Psalm 145:15; Matthew 6:25, &c.;  [3] Acts 17:25 and 14:17;  [4] 1 Corinthians 15:58; Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalm 127:1–2;  [5] Psalm 62:11 and 55:22.

Commentary

The answer to this catechism question gives us one of the most succinct and beautiful expositions of the Fourth Petition in the Lord’s Prayer.
 
The Fourth Petition is quite obviously, in the first place, a prayer to the Lord to provide our daily necessities as we live in this present pilgrim life. Yes, the Lord does teach us that we should not be overtly concerned about these things—food, drink and raiment (Mt 6:25), because God knows our needs and will provide them (Mt 6:32). The availability of daily bread ought therefore not to be a source of worry for the Christian. We should rather give priority to seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33). However, as we are but mere creatures dependent upon the Lord for our existence, it is presumptuous to think that God owes it to us to provide our needs. We ought therefore to come unto God humbly to ask Him to provide us with all that we need.
 
As we do so, in the second place, we acknowledge that all good things, including our daily bread, come from God. “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Ps 34:10). Yes, in general, God provides for us through secondary means, such as our own hard work, or gifts and payments from others; but ultimately, it is still God who provides. The Christian who prays according to the Fourth Petition, acknowledges this fact; and also that unless these things are given with God’s blessing, they cannot profit us. Anything obtained by fraud or ethical compromises, for example, does not come with God’s blessing, and therefore cannot be profitable for us. Indeed, the Christian should be aware that what he receives in this world may affect him detrimentally. So King Agur prays: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Prov 30:8–9). The Christian, who is aware of the subtle influence of the things of the world, would come to the Heavenly Father praying that He would only provide such as is good, and not such as he would derive enjoyment thereby.
 
Therefore, in the third place, when we pray “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are also acknowledging that we have no confidence in any creature, including ourselves, to provide that which is best for us. Our confidence must rest upon God alone.