Last week, in my piece entitled, Your Kingdom Come, I reflected on the Our Father – its power, its completeness, and its succinctness. I didn’t imagine that this week’s journey would lead me back to the prayer in some form or fashion. Perhaps it is the divine way of demonstrating the power and completeness of the prayer.
In case you haven’t made the link by now, the title of this week’s piece, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ is a line from the Our Father. I have prayed this line of the prayer for as long as I remember praying the Our Father. In recent months, I have had cause to pray the line alone, as a reminder that God will supply my daily bread – whatever that may be. It’s not an excuse to sit idly, rather, it is a prayer of trust in the provision of the Good Shepherd in whom there is no lack.
Now, reflecting upon the readings for this weekend (Proper 13, Year C: Hosea 11:1-11; Psalm 107:1-9, 43; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21), and searching for inspiration for the title, the ultimate words that came to me were, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’.
Of course, in the Our Father, it is God we are asking to give us. God is our Provider – the Divine Shepherd, and for that ‘[… we] shall not want.’ (Psalm 23:1). We shall not want because ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it […]’ (Psalm 24:1). With this understanding, anything that we need is well within the power of God to provide. Imagine the worlds, the universe as a restaurant, ‘Chez God’. I say this, not to be cheeky or flippant, but to give you the understanding of just how much the earth and all that is in it belong to God. And, just as you would go to a restaurant and dine either à la carte or carte blanche, so too, everything that we could ever want or imagine is within the omnipotence, the all-mighty power of God to provide. As such, when we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, we literally cannot begin to imagine just what is within the power of God to do for that daily bread to be delivered.
Yet, we worry about tomorrow. And, in that worry for tomorrow, we hoard, we go after more than we need. We amass unto ourselves possessions that we can’t even begin to use. Friends, I am not speaking here only to the affluent for greed has many faces. There’s greed for clothing, footwear and accessories. Notwithstanding the confinement imposed upon us by COVID-19, how much of your wardrobe do you frequently use, yet how much of it are you prepared to dispose of? There’s greed for property – check family disputes and court matters. There’s greed for titles – how many degrees do you really need? There’s greed for food, for entertainment, for money. There is even greed for the flesh that leads to all manner of sexual indiscretions – adultery, promiscuity, fornication and the like. There is greed for recognition – just take a look at social media, not to mention the number of influencers which is growing by the week. There is greed for work – how many times have we heard the term ‘workaholic’ or ‘busyness’? There is greed for control – at work (school), at home, and even at play. Folks, there is greed in all shapes and sizes. Just pick your weakness, and there is a form of greed that gives the false hope of being able to feed your appetite.
But the prayer, ‘give us this day our daily bread’, it is one that expresses our confidence in God’s ability to provide for each passing day. Let me now share this insight with you, it is also a prayer against greed, avarice, gluttony, and the like. It is a prayer against excess. How so? Well, if we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, and we believe that Jehovah Jireh (God who provides) will supply our every need, then, we satisfy ourselves with whatever God allows us to have on a given day. We trust that God will pour out to us whatever is required. Effectively, what we are praying is this:
‘Lord, I trust you to fulfil my needs; I believe in your capacity to provide; I rely on your wisdom to determine all that I need and for that, I will be content with whatever you determine is all that I need.’
If we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ with this heart, there is much that we will discover we do not need. We will learn discretion and self-control when we go to the supermarket; we will learn balance between work, leisure and rest; we will mind our words and the hours wasted on the phone or in idle conversation. We will even learn mindfulness about the number of meetings we absolutely need to be engaged in.
Friends, ‘give us this day our daily bread’ invokes peace not only by way of its expression of trust in God but also by way of the stillness to which it draws us because, for trusting in God, there is much energy we learn we do not have to expend.
As, I close, I leave you with a prayer for the week:
Our Father in heaven, you are our Daily Bread. On you we rely for everything that we need. Forgive us our excesses, our worry and our greed. Teach us to trust in your capacity to provide. Lead us beside the still waters of contentment. Make us lie in the green pastures of your sustenance where we can be still and know that you are God. We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who ensured that the 4000 and the 5000 were fed much to their contentment. Amen.
Until next time,