Why Pray? To Remind Us Whose We Are

Anyone join the sourdough craze during the pandemic? To be fair, we’ve been making sourdough bread for decades. So it’s not exactly a fad in our house. I did, however, enjoy learning more about bread baking. Something about the slow, patient process helps orient us too-busy folks to reality. Life isn’t about hurry.

In fact, I believe that many people continue to strive and struggle in getting the perfect sourdough at home. I guess I’m just lucky because everything always works out perfectly. Focusing on my daily bread helps to keep my heart and hands in a rhythm of thanksgiving.

Over the last several weeks of talking about prayer, we’ve covered a lot of territory. Recapping the first few lines of the Lord’s Prayer, here’s what I know I’ve learned from them:

  • We’ve learned we need to approach it with humility and gratitude.
  • We’ve learned that the first purpose of prayer is to gain a mature relationship with God so that we understand his heart and our own.
  • We’ve learned to ask God to radically re-organize our priorities so that they match God’s own.

So what’s the next sentence? A simple line. Or is it?

“Keep us alive with three square meals.”

I love how clear and down-to-earth that translation is. The one we know better is: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6.11)

But it means the same thing, right? Give us every day what we need to survive. This seems so simple, but it’s really a complex and important idea. In the beginning, God created a garden that had everything we could ever need or want. It was way more than daily bread-and it was all there as a gift.

But human beings wanted to make their own daily bread. They wanted to be in charge. They wanted to believe that everything they gained came from their own hands. (I don’t think humans have changed very much.)

Fast-forward to the Israelites wandering in the desert. They complained because they didn’t have enough food, so God gave them miraculous food from heaven called manna. They had enough for every day-but they were not supposed to collect more than enough. Why not? God’s command regarding the manna was a lesson in:

  • Remembering that God provides absolutely everything, and
  • Not being greedy and wanting more than what we need.

When the people collected more than they needed, it rotted. That was both God’s signal to stop hoarding and also a reminder that he does provide every single day. We don’t need to worry about the future.

Plan sure, but worry? That’s where this line of Jesus’ prayer comes in.

“Keep us alive with three square meals.” Give us this day our daily bread.

It’s more than a request for provision. It’s an understanding that we trust God with today, tomorrow, and every day after that. We ask for daily bread, not a month’s worth. God wants us to learn how to come to him regularly and trust him for absolutely everything. Asking for daily bread as opposed to what I need for the long term is an exercise in trust, not a request for food. It’s saying to God-I know you’ll still be there tomorrow for what I might need then. I choose to pick up only the manna I need.

It’s also a way of teaching us to submit to wanting only what God says we need. It’s Jesus telling us, as God told the Israelites long ago, don’t gather more than you need. Make sure there’s enough for everyone. Daily bread is what’s really necessary.

When we say “give us our daily bread,” what are we saying? We’re implicitly saying that we recognize there is an “us.” It’s not just about me.

Part of what we’re asking is that we are willing to share our daily bread with those who maybe don’t have any. When we ask for enough for everybody, we’d better be ready to remember the lines in Jesus’ prayer before this-set the world right. So if I have more bread than someone else, I need to partner with God and making sure we all have what we need each day.

What’s the purpose of prayer? In these lines, it’s to remind us where everything comes from. Prayer puts us in a posture of humility to come before God and remember that he supplies all of our needs. We cannot ever take credit for all we have and gain, no matter how hard we work. Also, it puts us in a place of remembering that he loves to give us what we need because he loves us. And everyone else.

Photo by In The Making Studio on Unsplash

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