Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bethany Bullet-Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Teach us to Pray
It is probably worth reviewing a bit as to where we’ve been in this prayer our Lord has taught us to pray. Our relationship with God is intimate but not casual; it is childlike but not infantile. The Lord has come as king to topple tyrants. God’s will is done, and He exercises his will both inordinately, as at Creation, and ordinately, for example through Word and Sacrament to bring and strengthen us in faith. Thus, to this point, the petitions of this prayer have been very relevant.

Now comes the fourth petition, “Give us this Day” and I’m left to wonder if in fact this is a passé petition for a Costco generation? Is this an obsolete supplication for an affluent nation? True, there are millions even hundreds of millions of people who will go to bed hungry tonight, who will not know where their next meal is to come from; but most of us will fill up a shopping cart at a warehouse in the next week and stock the cabinets in the fridge, hallway and the extra fridge in the garage. So I’m left to ponder, is this a passé petition for a Costco generation?

Before I can answer that question I think it serves us best to ask this one, “What did the first hearers of this prayer hear in these words?” I have no doubt that many of those gathered around Jesus as He first taught these words were not too sure where their next meal would come from. However, I am equally certain that the vast majority of them had their minds not jump to their own current condition but their forefather’s ancient situation. Their minds sprang back to a time in the desert when God rained down bread from heaven. They neither baked nor bought their bread; they gathered it each morning and in so doing knew that they were utterly dependant on God for their survival. We go to the cupboard each morning to make toast, maybe on days the cupboard is bare we need to scramble, a few eggs, or make a run to the market, but we are no less utterly dependant on God for our survival and when we pray this petition we are to hear and speak this truth.

This petition instructs and directs us!

It instructs us as to what kind of God we have. A God who is concerned about the most basic and routine events in life and a God who is part and parcel to the staple of life; yet, He is a God who not only provides bread, He is a God who becomes bread. In His Son, God is the living bread of heaven, the life giving bread come down to the world and this God who becomes bread through the power of His Word causes bread to become His body. “Jesus, took bread, gave thanks and said, take and eat this is my body.”

This petition also directs us to give God the highest form of worship possible. For in these words we declare that all things are God’s and all the gifts that make life possible and enjoyable flow from His gracious hand. Luther’s catechism lists “body, food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like” as being part of the daily bread God provides. That being the case, this petition not only directs us to offer God the highest form of praise; it directs us to offer ourselves as answers to the petition we pray. When you pray, “give us this day” you are asking God to not only provide you what you need from the above list, you are asking God to provide through you what others need from that same list. Give us this day therefore also means, make me such a devout spouse, child, parent, employer, employee, citizen, leader, neighbor, friend, co-worker and provider that others receive the “daily bread” that they so need.


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