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Give us this day our daily bread

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Date: January 13, 2019

Speaker: Eric Stillman

Series: Pray

Scripture: Luke 11:1–11:13

9 "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.  12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' 


We are spending this month diving deep into prayer as a church family, and especially into learning how Jesus taught us to pray in what is called the Lord’s Prayer. Last week we looked at the first line, and learned that prayer is communication with God that involves both intimacy and deference, with the purpose of bringing our perspective and priorities in line with His. Today we will look at line 2: “Give us today our daily bread.” This is an example of what you might call petitionary prayer, asking God for something we need. I want to highlight three characteristics of petitionary prayer before getting at the heart of this line:


  • Dependence


At its heart, this is a prayer of dependence. Give me my basic need for the day – daily food. It is an acknowledgement that I am not on my own. I am dependent upon Him for my most basic needs – food, shelter, health, and the very breath I breathe. I am at my core a dependent being.


Many of you might recoil at the idea of dependence and think of yourself as pretty independent and self-sufficient, a self-made man or woman. But think more closely. Think about all the people I have depended upon in order to stand up here today. I am dependent upon the men who made this stage. Those who made the microphone. The AV people. A congregation that gives tithes and offerings and serve. Elders who didn’t fire me. The landlord who leases us this building. The HVAC people. The ones who put my car together. The grocery store, the cereal makers, the farmers, those who made these clothes. The teachers who taught me. Pastors and ministry leaders who trained me. The police and soldiers who protected me. The doctors and nurses who treated me. My parents who raised me. Wife who supported me. I am not independent. I am in fact much more dependent than I realize.


We are all dependent, not only on others but on God for everything. When we refuse to acknowledge that dependence, we are guilty what Tim Keller calls Cosmic plagiarism. We are completely dependent upon God for everything, but we act as if we are self-sufficient and responsible for everything. We claim to be the author of something that is really a gift.


The first aspect of petitionary prayer is dependence. And so Jesus tells us to approach God like a child coming to his or her father to ask for the things they need, remembering that you are dependent upon Him for everything.


One more note about asking for daily bread. Many of us don’t really need to ask for daily bread because we have enough food stored up for longer than that. I would challenge you to consider this: the more generous we are, the more dependent we are. When you are regularly giving away your surplus to those in need, you need to ask God for daily bread.


2 Corinthians 9:6-12 - Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  9 As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."  10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.


Maybe this line of the prayer is a challenge to be more generous, so that we can truly mean this prayer. How can you be a part of the answer to prayer for someone else?


  • Boldness


In the Luke passage on the Lord’s prayer, Jesus follows it up with this:


5 Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,  6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'  7 "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.'  8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 


In the NIV 2011, “boldness” is translated as “shameless audacity.” What do you think about that? Jesus tells us to pray with that kind of attitude to our Father! Calls to mind another parable in Luke:


Luke 18:1-8 - Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'  4 "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men,  5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'"  6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.  7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" 


Difficult to strike the balance between submission to God’s will and audacity, just as it is difficult to strike the balance between coming with intimacy to our Father and deference to the King. Remember the J. I. Packer quote from last week about the beginning of the Lord’s prayer: “Here more clearly than anywhere the purpose of prayer becomes plain: not to make God do my will (which is practicing magic), but to bring my will into line with his (which is what it means to practice true religion).”


This is not name-it-claim-it theology. It isn’t finding the right formula by which to make God do whatever we ask. God is not our heavenly ATM. This is petition, not manipulation, boldly coming to a Father who loves us with our needs and requests and not being ashamed to ask Him persistently.


This dynamic is maybe best captured by James:


James 4:2-3 - You do not have, because you do not ask God.  3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.


This line of the Lord’s prayer teaches us that we can come boldly for the smallest things. For daily bread. Not just for the kingdom, but also for daily needs, specific desires. No prayer is too small, no need of ours is beyond the care of our Father. And we continue to pray persistently.


  • Trust

Trust the Father.


Matthew 7:9-11- "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!


Jesus teaches us to pray first and foremost for God’s name to be honored, His kingdom to come, and His will to be done. After that, we bring our requests. The reason the order is important is that as we contemplate who He is and what really matters, our needs and desires are put in the proper perspective. We can present our requests and then submit to God’s will and God’s timing, knowing that He is our loving Father who will give us good gifts.


Trust is critical in petitionary prayer because clearly not every prayer is answered the way we want it to be. As C.S. Lewis said, “Every war, every famine or plague, almost every death-bed, is the monument to a petition that was not granted.”


We come boldly to our Father, asking for what we believe is best, and in the end, sometimes He says to us, No. Even Jesus experienced unanswered prayer in Gethsemane, praying for the cup to pass but in the end trusting in His Father’s will.


Think of Jordan: I wish we could live at the waterpark. I wish I could eat candy all day. I wish I didn’t have to go to school. I have to routinely say no because I have a longer view in mind for him, a grander vision. And certainly God has to say no often to us because He has a grander vision for our lives and for this world.


As PT Forsyth, Scottish theologian of the 19th-20th century put it, “We shall come one day to a heaven where we shall gratefully know that God’s great refusals were sometimes the true answers to our truest prayers.”


He gives us what we would have asked for if we knew everything. In our shortsightedness, we often ask for things that are not in our best interests. And often when we look back, we can see how His will was far superior to ours. And if not in this life, we will in the next.


James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


Trust in the Lord.


Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.


One of my favorite verses that helps me to trust in the Lord is:


Romans 8:31-32 - What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?


And so we can seek His kingdom first, as He says in Matthew 6:33, trusting that He will take care of our needs.


Now let me speak to the heart of this request. When Jesus said “Give us this day our daily bread,” what would that have brought to mind for his Jewish listeners? Remember in Exodus when Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided daily bread, manna, from heaven:


Exodus 16:4 - Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 


And if they saved some for the next day, it went bad. Moses said this about the reason behind it:


Deuteronomy 8:2-3 - Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.


In the end what we really need is not to have every prayer answered, every comfort taken care of, every wish granted, every desire met. There is a deeper spiritual need that we have, that daily bread points us to. We need the Word of God. Listen to Jesus:


John 6:32-35- Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."  34 "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."  35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.


Like so many other things in the Bible, the physical thing is a shadow of the real thing, a sign pointing to the real need. Bread points us to the bread of life. Jesus is the bread of life, the true manna sent from heaven, God’s ultimate provision for our lives. We need bread daily to live, but we need Christ daily to truly live. Remember Jesus at the last supper with his disciples?


Matthew 26:26-28 - While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."  27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.  28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.


We need Jesus, the bread of life, broken for our sins. We need His life in us to give us eternal life.


This means that sometimes a no answer to our prayers for earthly needs is because God is trying to move us beyond our shortsightedness to our true need, which is Christ, dependence upon Him.


The passage that has come to mind has been Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32. Jacob was not as loved by his father as his brother Esau, had to lie and cheat to get the blessing from his father. He was desperate for Rachel, was swindled his uncle, was given the wrong woman on his wedding night. After swindling his uncle, he needed to leave. On his way back to meet his brother, this happens:


Genesis 32:24-29 - So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."  27 The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered.  28 Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."  29 Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.


In a moment, Jacob is permanently crippled. But he hangs on to the man, who turns out to be the angel of the Lord. He hangs on to God, seeking blessing from Him and not from women or his father or anything else. God gave him a new name, no longer Jacob but Israel (he who wrestles with God and overcomes). This prayer points to our deeper need: give me my daily needs, yes, but more importantly, give me God. Give me Jesus. Give me the bread of life.


Marriage, sex, health, job, money, all of it is a shadow. Christ is what we are truly longing for. Give us this day our daily bread, but the bread of life. We trust you, that your no answer is not because you do not love us or care or are not listening, but because what we ultimately need is not physical bread but the bread of life. Let us desire Him above all else. Even if he should strip all else away from us, we will hold on to Him until He blesses us.


Romans 8:31-32 - What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?