Christianity 201

April 27, 2011

Give Us This Day — In 2011 — Our Daily Bread

Jesus was asked by his disciples for some teaching on prayer.  He told them not to just repeat the same prayers over and over again, and then he gave them a sample script which, sadly, many repeat over and over again.

Someone asked me recently what Jesus actually meant by, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  In a world without refrigeration — though they used salt — it was probably more vital in their day to have an idea where your next meal is coming from.  Especially if you were a people that was constantly on the move. This of course led the Israelites to a superstitious adoption of some of their pagan neighbors’ views that certain gods controlled certain weather and soil conditions in certain geographic territories.

But I answered the question differently.  I think in our day, the equivalent consists of our prayers for health and safety.  Think of how health concerns — those of ourselves and our friends and relatives — preoccupy our prayer lists.  We know where our next meal is coming from.  The freezer is full and the grocery store is stocked full of more food.  Health concerns are often the source of our anxiety and concern.  Travel — by car, rail or airplane — fills us with further worry; the accident reports in the media are simply all too vivid.

Some pastors — including recently, Andy Stanley — are somewhat frustrated by our need to be petitioning God for “traveling mercies.”  Or for “a good night’s sleep.”  But I think there is something in the relationship and communication equation whereby God is quite willing to listen to our request for our ongoing, daily needs to be met.  It also acknowledges that all our basic necessities only happen by God’s grace, by Him who “holds all things together.”

David said he’d never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread, but Jesus taught us to pray for “our daily bread.”  I think our various health and safety concerns are simply the modern extension of this in a world where bread is — for now — plentiful.

November 16, 2010

With Christ in the School of Prayer: Paraphrased

Your Father knows what things you need before you ask Him

At first, this might seem to make prayer less necessary:  God knows far better about what we need than we do.   But as we get deeper into understanding what prayer really is, this truth will strengthen our faith.

It will teach us that we do not need, as in other religions, a multitude of words or urgency, to try to compel an unwilling God to listen.

It will lead us to a holy thoughtfulness and quietness in prayer as it begs the question: Does my Father really know that I need this?

It will, once we have been led by the Spirit to the certainty that our request is indeed something that, we do need for God’s glory, give us wonderful confidence to say, “My Father knows I need it and must have it.”

And then, should there be a delay in getting the answer, it will teach us in quiet perseverance to hold on…

Oh, the blessed freedom and simplicity of a child that Christ our teacher would desire to cultivate in us, as we draw near to God; we should look up to the Father until His Spirit works that freedom and simplicity in us.

We should, at times when we’re praying, when we’re in danger of being preoccupied with our fervent, urgent requests — so much that we forget that the Father knows and hears — we should hold still and just quietly say:  My Father sees, My father hears, my father knows.   It will help our faith to accept the answer and to say that we know that we have the requests we have asked of Him.

from Lesson 3 of With Christ in The School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

October 12, 2010

Righteous Desires

Today’s devotional, by Ferrum, VA pastor Terry Covey at the blog Seeds of Faith, reminded me that the Lord will give the righteous the desires of their heart because the desires of the righteous are righteous desires.

Devotional: ‘The Desires of Your Heart’

Psalm 37: Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Some interpret this passage to mean – “Show some affection to the LORD and He will reward you by giving you whatever you want.” But that is not at all what the Psalmist is saying. He is not suggesting that God can be tricked out of His blessings. No, not at all. Instead the Psalmist is saying – “Make your relationship with the LORD the delight of your heart, and He will share Himself with you to your heart’s content.”

Jesus said something very similar –

Luke 11:9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

13 If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Note – what we are to ask, seek, and knock for is not the riches of this world. Jesus is not saying – ‘Want something really bad and you’ll get it.’ Instead Jesus is referring to a deeper relationship with God. Note – ‘your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.’

The reason so many of us are so dissatisfied in life is because we are looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong pleasures. We believe that something new from this world will finally bring us satisfaction. Yet it never will. It may give some momentary pleasure, but as soon as the newness has worn off, the pleasure will be gone. Instead we should be searching for something deeper and more lasting. That is found in our relationship with the LORD. “Make your relationship with the LORD the delight of your heart, and He will share Himself with you to your heart’s content.”