Give us today our daily bread

Today's passage is the first personal request to be made— “Give us this day our daily bread.” Let me begin by saying this does not teach that our asking is limited to bread or daily food. This is a request for that which we need to live. It also does not mean we don’t plan for our future. Many passages in God’s word tells us to plan, be prudent, wise, count the cost, and even set aside our offerings to the Lord.

Verse 25 reads, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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?” Jesus’ concern is with our attitude and our approach toward God when we pray. Jesus’ teaching is totally different than the habits of either the Jewish leaders or their pagan neighbors. There is a change, necessary in our mindset, that takes us from the heathen and religious into a place where our prayers are heard by God.

James seems to confront followers of Jesus who don’t look all that different from those who don’t know Christ. They talk a good game but they favored the rich over the poor and their gossip or talk had started big messes from tiny words. In addition, they were more concerned with ‘getting ahead’ in the world than in living for Jesus. Therefore, James explains that there are two reasons they weren’t seeing their prayers answered. First, they didn’t pray and second, the reason they asked was so far off God’s will they might have well have been spitting into the wind.

There are great stories told about how our egos interfere with doing what is right. In the area of prayer, I want to point you back to Shenandoah where Jimmy Stewart plays a widower trying to raise his kids as Christians. His ‘grace’ affirmed his lack of faith.

“Lord, we cleared the land, we planted it, sowed it, harvested it. We cooked the harvest. We would not be here, wouldn’t be eating if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-boned tired hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same, Lord, for the food we’re about to eat. Amen (McLaglen).”

What passed for grace was not prayer. It was a recollection of ‘their’ work and effort. It is an example of how many people, silently approach God. “Thank you, Lord, even though I took the financial risk, worked the long hours, and put up with this and that”. Contrast this type of prayer with that witnessed by John in Revelation 7. There is no ego expressed by the multitude. It is pure praise for who God is and the honor God deserves.

“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! …Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

James tells us the second problem is that of hedonism, a belief that our personal pleasure is the greatest good. He makes it clear when he says, “you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions”. And this word passions has been translated lust or desires because it involves a much broader understanding than sex, which is what we usually think of with the word lust. This is life, lived so that our attention, our energy, and our efforts are centered on what we want rather than on God’s will.  Should we be surprised if praying like this does nothing and goes nowhere?

We can get swept up in worry so that we ask God for future things without even thinking about what God’s will might be. Jesus’ desire is that we are to turn things over to God that continually crop up in our lives instead of making prayer the verbal component for our anxiety.

Let me give you an example. If health concerns are something that worry you, you might pray, “Today I give you my concern over my test results, that lump I felt, the problems I have with… (fill in the blank), because I know You love me and have my best interest at heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen. If it is work you worry about you might pray, “Today I give you my concern over my work, my boss, my employees, my job search etc.… because I know You love me and have my best interest at heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen. It is a matter of admitting to God that He has an answer because he loves us.

Consider a couple of things today.

First, even though we continue to live and worship during the “the most segregated hour of Christian America” (King Jr.) we are gathered at the Lord’s Table with different denominations, races, and continents. We also ‘commune’ with those at the marriage feast of the lamb and with that multitude in Revelation 7:9 which John describes as,

“a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…”

We have in common one Lord and one King.

Second, no one is worthy to be here because of their acts or inactions. No one stands before God blameless, apart from the blood of Jesus. No one stands before God pure, good, or loving enough, apart from what Jesus did on the cross.” We are sinners saved by grace. The great truth of this is borne out in Romans 5:8 which says, “In that, while were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You, who trust Christ as Lord and Savior are invited to come and eat. Let us pray.

 

 

Works Cited

McLaglen, Andrew V. Shenandoah. Hollywood: Universal Pictures, 1965. video.

King Jr., Martin Luther. The Most Segregated Hour in America. https://youtu.be/1q881g1L_d8, 1960. video.

Bibliography

McLaglen, Andrew V. Shenandoah. Hollywood: Universal Pictures, 1965. video.

Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 288.

King Jr., Martin Luther. The Most Segregated Hour in America -. https://youtu.be/1q881g1L_d8, 1960. video.