Friday, October 26, 2012

The Lord's Prayer - Give us our daily bread

This is part 4 in a short series on the Lord's Prayer. In Matthew 6:11 Jesus says we should pray like this, "Give us this day our daily bread." As I introduced this to my Sunday School class, I asked whether this is culturally relevant to us in the U.S.  After all, my daily bread for today and the next several is in the cupboard, refrigerator, or freezer.  What attitude should we develop as we reflect on this short sentence?

The first thing I think we should gain is a focus on today. This relates not only to our food, but also to other needs and desires that we have. Certainly we need to plan for the future, but Jesus says in Matthew 6:34 that we should not worry about tomorrow. He says, "Tomorrow will worry about its own things."  We spend so much time anticipating the future -- things we are going to do, experiences we are going to have, people we are going to visit, -- that we forget to think about what we are experiencing today. There are things today that we need to be thankful for, enjoy looking at and people we can encourage and help -- today.

The second thing I think about when I read this passage is that we have a lot to learn about contentment. In 1 Timothy 6:6-8, Paul writes, "Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."  When we pray for the needs of today, it teaches us to be content with the things we need today. Hoarding of our resources usually comes because of a fear that our needs won't be supplied in the future and that comes from a lack of contentment with the basics. What we want and what we need are usually two completely different things.

Finally, this phrase reminds us the source of everything is God. Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17 that God "gives to all life, breath and all things." James writes that every good and perfect gift is from above. (James 1:17) So when we pray this way, we are acknowledging that God is the source of our food. It develops in us a sense of gratitude and thankfulness for what we have as we receive it from him day by day.

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