Saturday, November 3, 2007

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread


Depending on who you listen to, times are tough right now for the economy. Housing sales are down, gas prices are up, stock prices are up and down daily, and the common consumer struggles just make it another day. To read the news one might think that we were a poor, third world country with no jobs. Is it as bad as it all seems?

Obviously I'm not an economist, nor do I understand the wide world of finances. Yet I do understand how God provides, regardless of what the commentators say. I also understand that man does not live on mere bread alone.

In the Lord's Prayer Jesus instructs us to pray only once for our physical needs of food, shelter and clothing. And when we pray, we pray only for what is needed for that day. Admittedly it is a very different approach than we see in the unbelieving world that is forecasting well into the future, and worrying about events that have not even occurred. Jesus once said that worrying this way fails to add even a short span to our life. Medical science tells us that it actually subtracts from it. Still, we worry. And what does it get us? Nothing but ulcers, coronary problems, and headaches.

Of course it is impossible to just shut off our anxiety and trust. This is the work of the Spirit. Thus, when we pray for our daily bread we are also praying for the faith to trust our Lord to provide, and to accept his wisdom. As Paul realized, God's grace is all the we need, and that even in our weakness God's strength is made manifest. Thus, deprivation can serve the purposes of God. The less we have, the more we must depend and trust. Living in a country flush with wealth is a difficult place to practice faith. How sad to see such a wealthy nation worry about a few cents more at the pump and a few dollars less in the 401k. Do we have food? Do we have shelter? Are we clothed? Many in the world must do without even these most basic needs.

In my first parish I lived in one of the poorest counties of Michigan, and the poor there often wore designer clothing and had money for the state-run lottery. This is poverty?

God grant us faith to live in dependence on His boundless grace and to trust in His never failing provision, mindful that He alone knows our needs of both body and soul.

3 comments:

The Heresy Hunter said...

"In the Lord's Prayer Jesus instructs us to pray only once for our physical needs of food, shelter and clothing."

Which brings up the question that often crosses my mind, why, most weeks in church, between Bible Study and the actual service, do we sometimes say the Lord's Prayer 2, 3 or even 4 times in one day?

Carl Vehse said...

"In the Lord's Prayer Jesus instructs us to pray only once for our physical needs of food, shelter and clothing. And when we pray, we pray only for what is needed for that day."

In its expositing on the fourth petition, the Large Catechism indicates no such restriction nor does it indicate that our prayer must be restricted to no more than the needs of that single 24-hour day. Furthermore, given what Jesus said in Luke 11:5-12, where is the instruction from Jesus that we are to only pray once daily for our physical needs and that our prayer is to be only for the needs of that (24-hour) day?

Rev. Don Engebretson said...

Your point is well taken. What I was observing was that our Lord has us pray for our "daily needs" "this day." Of course one could see that as praying for our ongoing physical needs on a daily basis, as opposed to the way I put it. That would be valid. I was also thinking of Jesus' words in Matthew where he instructs us not to worry about our needs beyond the day at hand. Now that I look at it afresh, my words here stated could very well rule out any prayer for long term needs and plans. That would not be my intent, nor does it reflect my prayers. The issue would be trust that God will provide. But one should distinguish between anxiety over the future and a prayer of faith that God will provide.

Thank you for making me rethink!