(watch here: https://youtu.be/Q03T0RAq9GY)
He [Jesus] said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
The petition of Jesus’ prayer that asks, “give us each day our daily prayer,” reminds me of the one about a young woman who brought home her fiance to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother told her father to find out a little about the young man. The father invited the fiance to his study. “So what are your plans?” the father asked the young man. “I am a seminarian,” he replied. “A seminarian, huh? Hmmm,” the father said. “Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she’s accustomed to?” “I will study,” the young man replied, “and God will provide for us.” “And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?” asked the father. “I will concentrate on my studies,” the young man replied, “God will provide for us.” “And children?” asked the father. “How will you support children?” “Don’t worry, sir, God will provide,” replied the fiance. The conversation proceeded like this, and each time the father questioned him, the young idealist insisted that God would provide. Later, the mother asked, “How did it go, honey?” The father answered, “The bad news is, he has no job and no prospects but the good news is, he thinks I’m God.”
Needless to say, that’s a popular one back at seminary! No job, no prospects, just a whole lotta faith that God will somehow provide at the end of years of study. And if you’re like me, who went into seminary single and without children and came out of it with a pregnant wife and two kids, you reaaaally lean into that faith that God will somehow provide! “Not just providing for me anymore, God. Got a few extra mouths to feed.” Those were scary times not knowing what a Master of Divinity degree would get me. But God blessed me with a faithful wife, healthy children, and a bunch of people who encouraged and supported us. God was good to us. Don’t know why, don’t know how, but God sure did find a way to keep us afloat. I guess if you walk humbly and faithfully enough then God stays faithful and true to his word. He DOES provide for those who love and serve him and those around them. It’s no wonder that Jesus made them his greatest first and second commandments…”to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37 & 39) Nearly ten years and two children later, God still continues to provide for my family and I. Don’t know why, don’t know how!
Though I’d like to know why and how, I don’t think it’s God will for me to know such things. No, I think that God is quite comfortable with me not knowing why and how He so graciously and generously provides for me. Sure, it can have my suspicions but I shouldn’t ever expect him to come right out and tell me all that He does and why He does it. That’s just not how God rolls! Why? For starters, I don’t think I could handle all that knowledge. I couldn’t handle it and God wants me to live by faith, not by wisdom. Wisdom only goes so far but faith is everlasting. Faith will carry me a lot farther than wisdom ever will. Faith keeps me open and listening to God. Faith keeps me in right relationship with God. Only a fool stops listening to God! God is never done speaking so it’s only right that we should never stop listening. God never stops loving either. Stay open to his endless love and wisdom! Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Just because God is endlessly speaking, endlessly loving, doesn’t mean we are to get greedy. The petition we are called to pray is “give us each day our daily bread.” Like the Israelites in the desert, we are called to request simply a day’s ration of food. Why? A couple reasons. First, to ensure we continue to live by faith. Will God provide for the days ahead? Will God remain faithful? Only one way to find out: go into the new day with an attitude of gratitude and a deep, abiding love for God. God WILL remain faithful! God WILL provide! Another reason why we are to request simply a day’s ration: because any more would only increase our worry and anxiety. Oh, what a great irony! By hoarding more than a day’s worth, we think we’re lessening our worry and anxiety. But then we start worrying about how to store the food, how to preserve the food, and how to guard the food. Less or more worry?! Recall what Jesus taught us: “…your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:32-34) Each day has a unique set of worries…”set” meaning more than one. Daily food is but one of many worries and you can’t ease those worries if you’re consumed with the variety of worries that come with gathering more than a daily’s ration of food. Friends, travel light! It’s the only true way to travel with little to no worry.
And it’s the way that God wants us to travel on our pilgrimage through this world. Remember what we explored last week in our reflection on the kingdom of God. God wants us to know his kingdom in this world and the next. It is an extraordinary kingdom with extraordinary guiding principles and extraordinary leaders. Unlike rulers of earthly kingdoms, God always provides for those in his kingdom. Proverbs says, “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.” (10:3) Those of his kingdom are the righteous. They seek his righteousness and live righteously and are thus provided for. God doesn’t abandon the righteous.,,God PROVIDES!
Though the petition asks for daily bread, it is important to note that “bread” can have a variety of meanings. Jesus liked the various connotations of “bread.” Yes, “bread” can consist of that tasty, flour-and-yeast treat that satisfies the body’s hunger. It could also include anything that satisfies the hungers of not only the body but also the mind and spirit too. Jesus wants all of our bodily, mental, and spiritual needs met on a daily basis. We can cling to that opening verse of the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Jesus is the great shepherd who, in his prayer, taught us how to ask for our wants and needs to be met. God was not only good to my family and I and continues to be good to us, He was and is good to you too. Let us give thanks for his gracious and unending generosity. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.