How to Pray, pt. 5 (Matt 6:11)

As we’ve been learning how to pray over the last posts, we have looked at the God-centeredness of our prayers. We have seen that our prayers should be about God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will. But as I stated before, we are not to think that we cannot come to God with our needs. We just need to begin with the right priorities. If we begin our prayers with a God-centered attitude, we will more than likely be unable to continue in a selfish man-centered manner.

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In this post we are going to begin with the first of three petitions that address the needs that we have:

  • “Give us this day our daily bread”-Addressing our physical needs
  • “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors”-Addressing our own soul’s need
  • “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”-Addressing our spiritual needs

As we consider the fourth petition, we will see two lessons concerning our prayers, so that we will ask for our physical needs with greater understanding as to how we should ask:

  1. “Give us”: All of our needs are supplied by God

We can’t forget the original audience that Jesus was speaking to: the Jews of Galilee. Every year, continuing even to this present day, the Jews remember an event that forever shaped them-the Exodus from Egypt. Immediately after the Jewish people left Egypt, they found themselves in the wilderness—a desert wasteland that would not supply for a million people food or water. They had to learn that God would supply all their needs.

Where do you find food for a million people in the desert? God had to supply it: Ex. 16:1-7. We live in such a different world, don’t we? Where does our food come from? The market. Costco. We have massive farms and huge distribution chains. It can become easy to forget that God is the one who supplies our needs.

The stock market crashed on Oct. 29, 1929. It was called Black Tuesday and the start of the Great Depression. The depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich or poor. International trade plunged by half to two-thirds; as did personal income, tax revenue, prices and profits. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by roughly 60 percent. Thirteen million people became unemployed. Industrial production fell by nearly 45% between the years 1929 and 1932. Homebuilding dropped by 80% between the years 1929 and 1932. From the years 1929 to 1932, about 5,000 banks went out of business. By 1933, 11,000 of the US’s 25,000 banks had failed. In 1933, 25% of all workers and 37% of all non-farm workers were unemployed. Between 1929 and 1932 the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%.

We are in fear of a return to such an economic disaster, but this scare can have one benefit: It can remind us of what wealthy nations often forget, our prosperity comes directly from the hand of God, and we are dependent upon Him for everything.

  1. This day our daily bread”-All our needs are satisfied daily to teach us to trust in God

Again, as the Jewish people were listening to Jesus teach about how to pray, they would have immediately thought about the manna given in the wilderness: Ex. 16:13-27. Notice a couple of things here:

  • God gave the manna daily, so they couldn’t stockpile it. Every day was taken on faith.
  • They had to gather and cook the manna. God gives to us our needs, but this doesn’t preclude effort on our part. In general, he won’t send you checks in the mail. You need to go to work. But this work is given to you as a gift from God.

This daily dependence upon God means that we aren’t to be anxious, because God will supply all your needs: Matt 7:7-11. He supplies your needs, but we need to understand the difference between a need and a want. He supplies your needs out of love. As a father loves his child, so our heavenly Father takes care of us, his adopted children.

With all of this, let me ask you a question. If at the end of the day, you have a full stomach and a warm place to sleep and clothes to wear, is that all that you need?

Look up John 6:25-40 in your Bible. The feeding of the 5,000 had just occurred. Jesus proved that He, the Son of God, was able to provide for their physical hunger. After leaving them, they sought him out to meet their continued physical needs, but Jesus wanted them to look beyond that. He wanted them to see their real hunger was deeper—a hungering for their souls’ desire to be satisfied. He said that He was the bread of life.

We continue to hunger after every meal. We hunger after every shopping spree. After every physical desire. We hunger for more.  Jesus satisfies what our soul longs after. He is the bread of life. Have you come to partake of Jesus, the bread of life?

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