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Catechism Class: Lord’s Day 45C Q118-119


Catechism Class: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 45C, Q118-119

LD45C –  What should We Ask God For When We Pray? 

Before we look at Q118 and 119, let;’s remind ourselves of what we learned about prayer already from our instructor in the catechism.  Firstly, we learned WHY God requires us to pray, because prayer is a mark of our gratitude to God, and because  prayer is a means of Christian growth.  Finally because prayer brings Glory to Almighty God.  

Then in our second look at LD45, we saw what our prayers should consist of, – we called it ‘the Marrow of Prayer.’  Prayer should be made with obedience, with repentance and humility, and with confidence that God will always answer according to his will and purpose.  

But we are also encouraged to ASK our Heavenly Father for His grace to help us in our times of need, for him to turn his face toward us and regard us in our helplessness and favour our prayers, even though we do not deserve such love as he so freely lavishes upon us. 

The catechist has approached this, as always in the correct biblical manner, for our attitude in prayer will be that of seeking the good of the Kingdom of God, seeking our own submission to the righteousness of God and that attitude will underlie and direct the requests and petitions we bring before the Lord in prayer.  The catechist is simply echoing the priorities taught to us by Jesus in Matthew 6:33So, since we have seen why we should pray, and our attitude in prayer, – how we should pray, let’s look at Q118:-

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Q118.  What has God commanded us to ask of him?

All the things we need for body and soul, as included in the prayer which Christ our Lord himself taught us. James 1:17,  

So there is a very simple answer to the catechist’s question.  We are pray for and about EVERYTHING.  How difficult then is our task!  How impossible to bring ALL our needs before the Lord in prayer!  That’s why we have confidence that the father knows us better than we know ourselves, and he already knows what we need, even before we ask him.  Matthew 6:8 

What do we mean by ‘ALL that we need for body and soul.’  As an individual, think about:-   

  • Our bodily needs.  We need food and drink and fresh air to breathe, (We don’t need fancy, expensive food or vintage wines), we need shelter, (a house, – we don’t need a house built just to impress our friends or neighbours, – just a house) we need fellowship and companionship and company, we need love, we need a measure of health.  (We don’t need to be world class athletes…)
  • Our spiritual needs.  We need forgiveness, we need to know God’s love and care, we need assurance of salvation and we need to know that we have a home in heaven.  For all of these our greatest need is to know Christ.  

Now, have you noticed that we are to pray for our NEEDS.  As Christians we must learn to distinguish between what we NEED and what we WANT, what we really, really want!  That’s a vital distinction, for there is a great difference between the two.  But to help us with this, we have a special formula for prayer.  It is here that the catechist introduces us to the words of the Lord’s Prayer in Q119.

Q119.  What is the Lord’s prayer?  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

He does this, I think for two reasons:

  • To teach us the difference between basic NEEDS and life’s luxuries.  What do we REALLY need?  In the Lord’s Prayer we learn that we need:-
    • A right understanding of God. ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ ‘Hallowed be thy name.’
    • Submission to his rule over us.  ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
    • The basic necessities of life – Bread!  ‘Give us this day our daily bread
    • Forgiveness and the willingness to forgive,  ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
    • Guidance, to avoid temptation.  ‘And lead us, not into temptation
    • Deliverance from Satan’s traps. ‘but deliver us from evil.’
    • An attitude of worship. ‘For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Amen.

These things are our ‘NEEDS’ and constitute the backbone of every prayer. 

  • To emphasise the unselfish nature of prayer.   Note that in Q118 the catechist refers to OUR needs, not MY needs.  This is emphasised all through the Lord’s Prayer.  A poem

You cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer and even once say “I.”
You cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer and even once say “My.”
Nor can you pray the Lord’s Prayer and not pray for one another,
And when you ask for daily bread, you must include your brother.
For others are included … in each and every plea,
From the beginning to the end of it, it does not once say “Me.” 

So, needs only, and nothing selfish or self-serving – two of the first principles of prayer, taught here by our instructor in the catechism.   The catechist will look at the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer in Q120-129, and these questions and answers shall keep us busy in catechism class for the next few weeks!

© BobMcEvoy January 2021

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