Over the course of the last month or so, we have been periodically looking into the “Lord’s prayer”. As we considered “Our Father, in heaven, holy is Your name”, we discovered manifold traits of the Name of God, and how they reveal the fullness of the ministry of Christ (for reference click to read “Father! Holy is Your Name”). In a second post, we sought to find the meaning of bringing God’s kingdom and will to life on this earth (for reference click to read “Father Your Kingdom Come”). Today we will seek how we are to lay hold of what we need for our daily lives, as we are taught to pray…
(Matthew 6:9-11) Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread.
From the outset, let us regard the order in which our praying is most biblical and most effective.
- Our Father in heaven, Holy is your name We begin our prayerful seeking of God, with recognition of His majestic Person, in praise and an attitude befitting His character and nature.
- Your kingdom come, You will be done, on earth Note the first prayer needs are not concerning us necessarily, but God’s kingdom and will in others. Thus far, these two “steps” follow Jesus acknowledgement of the greatest command “to love the LORD your God with all…” and the one most like it “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-29).
- Give us this day our daily bread It is only after we have established our place in His presence, having ascertained His will in praying for His kingdom, that we turn our attention upon our own needs.
Before moving forward, we must understand Jesus’ instructions to His disciples concerning prayer, are the outline for effective communication with God. Should we be disciplined in this outline; it will prove effective for the kingdom of God, growing our intimacy with Him and lead us to greater empowerment by the Holy Spirit, as we pursue His calling in our lives. Jesus’ instruction to us follows His life example, as well as the teaching of the New Testament, that we are to place others needs before our own (Romans 15:1-3; Philippians 2:1-4).
Although we are to seek to discipline ourselves in the pattern outlined in the “Lord’s Prayer”, remembering we are now considering prayer for “our daily bread”, we must understand there will be times when we by-pass order and priority when in profound need.
(Hebrews 4:15-16) 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Although we are glad for the truth of Hebrews 4:15-16, we understand that confidence in prayer when under great stress or need, is forged in the daily grind of disciplined and self denying prayer. This is why we find our greatest challenge in the phrase “give us this day our daily…“.
ISRAEL’S DAILY BREAD (MANNA) In Exodus 16 we are introduced to the concept of God calling His people to trust Him for what is needed for today. From Exodus 16 we find the delivered Israelite’s complaining about not having the kind of food they enjoyed in Egypt, where they were in hard and bitter bondage. God reveals He will bring them “manna” or bread from heaven. This manna would fall upon the ground every day in the morning.
The Jews were to rise and gather what they needed for that particular day alone. On the day before the Sabbath rest, they would gather twice as much. If they gathered more than their allotted ration, the left over manna would rot with worms and stink. More than a few of their number, in worry or greediness, would gather too much and find it useless the next day.
What was it that God wanted to accomplish? The LORD wanted His people to trust Him. He knowing all things, knew of the human tendency to want more, attain more and trust in the extra of more, rather than the One who was giving the needed supply. The LORD in His love, was attempting to build a people who saw His faithfulness and would respond with further trust and love. Lets face the facts, He is still doing that with the New Testament saint.
We can see this in Jesus’ instruction for us not to worry about what we need for life; “what you will eat, what you will drink, or what you will put on”. In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus relays that those who are outside the kingdom of God, worry about having what is needful of life, rather than being content with what they have to meet their needs for today. Be wary saint, you and I have grown up in a culture where enough for today is never enough, and where “a little more” ought to make us feel better, but often causes us to feel as though “a little more” might not be enough. Despite the American dream, it is still God’s desire for His children (in Christ) to trust Him for today, being content with our need being provided. He will surely come through whenever we are in need.
(Philippians 4:19-20) 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In lieu of the truth declared above Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:8 “For your Father knows the things you need, before you ask”. It is for this reason we must learn, especially as Christians in America, what is a “want” as opposed to a “need“. Do I pray for my retirement fund, as I worry about losing it when the market fluctuates? Do I spend time praying about more red meat in my refrigerator, for the “need” of assuaging my concern about a potential shortage in two months? Should I spend time in prayer over concern about who is potentially going to be elected in two weeks, two months, or even two years? Ought I to be concerned about needing more clothing for my family in 6 months because I may lose my job? The answer to all these things, according to Jesus instructions to us is… NO!!!
We must remember that He will provide for us our daily bread, and that means more than just our food; it means whatever is needed for our spirit, soul and our body. All of what we need is guaranteed for the child of God, through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross (I Thessalonians 5:23; Isaiah 53:5). Consider God’s faithfulness as declared in Psalm 103.
(Psalms 103:1-5) 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalms 103:10-14)10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
No matter what our true need is: whether it be food, shelter, clothing, encouragement, protection, vindication, healing in our bodies, anointing and power for ministry, forgiveness, or to be picked up when we have fallen down; should we go to Him with that need, He will surely come through right on time. There is no greater faith builder than to wait on the Lord and receive what is needed from our Father in heaven. The LORD our God never intended for us to have more than we need and consider it to be sought after blessing (consider Israel’s folly in Ezekiel 16:48-50). Regard Jesus’ own warning in Matthew’s Gospel.
(Matthew 6:31-34) 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
How can we begin to put this into practice? First consider what it is in your life, which causes you the most time spent in worry. Do this by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal this information to you, as we ought not to trust our own thinking on something so important. Upon finding out what consumes much of your mental, emotion and spiritual energies, then ask the Lord if it is a legitimate need. If you have arrived at a legitimate need, then ask if you need the “need” today. If you need it in the day, ask for it, in faith. If you do not need it today, dismiss it as unnecessary and move on. If you are like me, you may have to rinse and repeat this process several times before the peace of God washes away the worry, through the presence of Christ.
Always remember, no matter what it is, big or small, possible or impossible, if we ask according to His will, He will hear and deliver that which we ask (I John 5:14-15). God is good and our “Abba” is always faithful to give us what we need, daily, as we ask. Next time we will discover further the blessing of the daily bread that really sustains us, through the life of Jesus.