Lord, teach us to pray 3

Jesus taught us to pray so that we don’t need to wonder if our prayer is acceptable to God. This prayer is totally acceptable in all its shades of meanings.

Today, the prayer shifts to “us” terms, not “your” terms. (Your name, your kingdom, your will) but it is not a shift from the heavenlies to the earth. The first three requests were all connected to that little phrase, “on earth as it is in heaven.” Those requests all had to do with very practical applications here in our midst. That is where the need for bread is also.

Lord’s Prayer switches that around – puts God first. When we ask for God’s kingdom and will be done first, then the rest of our asks fall into place where they should be. Otherwise, we’re asking for that shiny red bike when that’s not within God’s will for us right now. I mentioned last week that we are caught up in the prisons of our own desire, and we pray for a shag rug for our prison cell rather than praying for freedom. Desiring God’s will first makes the rest more clear.

Today: Give us today our daily bread

What do you notice: it’s a demand, not a polite request! It is for today only, not tomorrow or next week. Just for today. That’s where God wants us to focus our prayers

When the Israelites stumbled through the desert, God provided manna for them, a bread-like substance. When they tried to disobey and collect more than they needed, it went maggoty overnight, except for the extra they collected for the Sabbath – read this section Exodus 16:1-5, 13-25

Exodus 16 (New International Version)

16 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today.26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

It does not pay to ask for more than today’s needs, though God knows you have those needs tomorrow as well. That is where trust comes in. We ask God to be our provider. Not Telus, or Bell, but God as our provider.

In the Bible, the kingdom of heaven that we prayed for just before is often referred to as a banquet. Jesus knows the importance of food in our lives. Jesus was always eating with people, celebrating, serving. He fed 5000 people once, with 5 small loaves of bread. So praying for bread follows very logically on the heels of praying for the coming of the kingdom.

This request raises a lot of questions – we have bread in our cupboard most days – what about that? What about the starving poor? Where is their bread?

2 basic questions:

  1. What is Jesus telling us to ask for here? – what does the prayer mean
  2. What are the implications to praying this? – What happens/ought to happen to us when we pray this?

One: it is suggested that it means everything we need for the next 24 hours for our bodily well-being. That we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life and enjoy God’s blessing with them.

6 layers:

  1. Physical bread – fuel for the body
  2. Everything necessary for functioning in the world; a balanced diet; for good weather patterns; for farmers and on up the production line to the baker & cook
  3. Everything necessary for kingdom life – wisdom, courage, strength, patience, holiness and vision
  4. Spiritual bread – the resources of the Holy Spirit that enable us to live in faith, hope and love. The bread that feeds our spirit
  5. Jesus himself – Jesus called himself the Bread of Life [John 6:35] “you need me more than you need your next meal – audacious!! He is the only one who satisfies our deepest hunger.
  6. Bread for the “coming day” – the final day – the bread of peace, joy and rest, for the glorious future when we shall never hunger again.

Two: there are 3 major lifestyle implications

  1. We are in solidarity with all others who call God “Father.” – That is what the ‘us’ refers to. – It makes us ‘kingdom-conscious.’ How would the world be different if we prayed this with greater sincerity?
  2. The prayer calls us into dependency on God for our daily To live one day at a time. We pray for enough bread so that we are not tempted to steal, but not so much that we are tempted to think we are self-sufficient and feel no need to pray. God is faithful, and make much out of little – wedding at Cana, bread for 5000, catch of fish. Today I have God, God has what I need. The same will be true tomorrow.
  3. It calls us into a lifestyle of gratitude. Every time we eat, a prayer has been answered. That demands gratitude. Every time we receive any of the 6 meanings of the word bread – actual bread, good food in general, that what we need for kingdom living, spiritual nourishment, Jesus, and bread for the last day – we receive the goodness of God. The only appropriate response is “thank you.”

We are blessed indeed by a generous and faithful God.