Friday, July 29, 2011

Into a Life of Prayer; A Journey, Part 7

Links for earlier posts in this prayer series are here:   Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6

The Lord's Prayer, Our Model, Vol. 4
We're back to our study of the Lord's Prayer this week.

The first three petitions, remember, focus on God, using the word Thy. 1) Hallowed be Thy name;  2) Thy kingdom come;  3) Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

The last three petitions focus on Us:
~ Give us this day our daily bread
~ And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
~ And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.

Today we focus on:  Give us this day our daily bread

After focusing our minds on God and his Kingdom, Jesus calls us to acknowledge our dependence on God the Father for our daily living needs, both physical and spiritual.

Spiritual Needs:  Matthew 4:4--But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Physical Needs: Matthew 6:25-34 (Source here)
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

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.

In praying for our daily bread, we remind ourselves that He is the Source of our sustenance

That means our physical sustenance needs are not met by:
farm fields
retirement funds
savings accounts

In the same way, our spiritual needs are not met by: 
material items

Our Father desires to provide everything we need to live our lives in obedience to him. Just as an earthly father would not withhold daily sustenance from his children, neither does Our Heavenly Father withhold it from us. All feelings of lack, therefore, result from our going elsewhere for our sustenance.

If we lose a job, yes, it is disconcerting. But if we view Our Heavenly Father as our Source, we know that when one income channel dries up, another will surface. Indeed, income channels will always dry up. Change is inevitable. A new channel may be in the form of a part-time job at first, but regardless of how attractive the channel, we must feel at our very core that Father will provide. This shouldn't be something we have to convince ourselves of, through sheer will. We must know it at our core

We must pray for our daily bread, as Jesus instructs us, so that it never enters our mind that something else might be the Source. Jesus knew our weakness. He knew we would try to rely on ourselves, or on another false god, to supply our needs. Thus, he teaches us to pray:  Give us this day our daily bread.

Notice the word daily. Remember that the Children of Israel were instructed to rely on daily manna, and told not to store it up for tomorrow?  It they tried to store it up for tomorrow, they had pestilence.  God made it spoil if they didn't obey.

This part of the prayer, this emphasis on daily, it to address greed. Jesus knew there would be greed, and indeed, so much of the world goes without daily bread because of greed. Our Heavenly Father provides for all, as promised, but we do not distribute it fairly. We take too much for ourselves, trying to store it up. We don't give enough to the third world, or to our needy neighbors in America, because we don't have faith. All greed is a lack of faith.

Jesus wants to prevent that lack of faith, so he teaches us to pray for our daily bread. 

Friends, we must do this....not only when we lose an income channel, but everyday. So that we will share. Just as God relies on us to plant sustenance crops and to tend them (we must work), he relies on us to share the food and other sustenance resources. We have a part in providing. 

Notice the words us and our. Give us this day our daily bread. We don't ever, in the Lord's prayer, ask anything for ourselves. We pray as a brotherhood. And we must live as a brotherhood.

In addition to food, Our Father provides other daily needs as well (shelter, clothing, for example). If we live in an area without public transportation, then He will provide a vehicle, if that vehicle is necessary to maintain employment.

If you drive a luxury car and lose your job, don't expect luxury wheels as a replacement. Luxury, at its core, is greed. If you lose your wardrobe in a natural disaster, don't expect new designer clothes as a replacement. They are greed also. Any extra we try to store up, beyond our actual need, is greed. Our desire to store up keeps starving people, starving. 

We are outside the will of God when we exercise greed....when we lack faith. 

Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

If we are greedy and faithless, we are not seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The promise to be provided for, then, does not apply to us.

Does that sound harsh? Well, yes. But is it any harsher than all the bellies heard around the world, grumbling for food, because of our greed?

We must align ourselves with the will of God, and that starts by praying for our daily bread. That will build faith. Do that and then believe it.

What is needed daily? What is not needed at all? We question every purchase, in light of God's will that we share. Is a new carpet really needed, when billions live on dirt floors? If we have the means to buy a new carpet, could that money, instead, be used to buy small business resources for a Compassion-sponsored third world family, or a water well or filter?

Is our car unreliable, or just out of fashion or old looking? If we have the means to buy a new modest car, can we donate our old one to a needy family, rather than trading it in? For that is how God may provide for that needy family to maintain employment. Through our obedience.

Do we want a bigger, better house to impress others, or because we plan to house some of God's people? For our extra space may be how God plans to provide for a family who lost their house in the recession. Through our obedience.

The Lord's Prayer, when we look at it closely, aligns us with the will of God. Let us live by every word.

Edited on August 13: I need to retract my statement that all luxury consumption is greed. That doesn't make sense since the luxury industry employs a lot of people, and where would the little guy be without this industry?  So sorry about that ill-conceived notion.

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