March 6th, 2016 | Series: The Lord’s Prayer

Sermon Content

If you’ve been with us over the past few weeks, you know we’ve been walking through a series on the Lord’s prayer.  If you’re new with us, welcome, we’re really glad you’re here.  We’re going to be diving into one of the stanzas in this prayer and trying to ask God God, what do you want us to hear from this portion of this model prayer that you gave your disciples to pray — a way for them to interact with you.

I grew up in a church that was sorta “high church.”  It was a Presbyterian church and the pastor wore a robe every Sunday when he preached.  I think it was because he didn’t want to think about what he wore under it.  Every time he prayed….he had this sorta booming voice….his name was Ben Patterson and every time he prayed, you just felt like the Shekinah glory of the Lord filled the room.  I can remember as a kid sitting there, going I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pray like that.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to talk to God in a way that I really feel like he hears me, because I don’t know that many big words and I don’t know how to do that and I don’t know how to enter in…..   I can remember feeling almost a little discouraged by prayer as a young kid because I felt so distant from the way it was suppose to be done.

There’s a story of a young boy who was at a Lutheran church with his mom.   The pastor got up and prayed and said, “Father God, remind us that we are but dust.”  The kid pulled his mom’s coat and said, “Mom, what’s “butt dust?”   I think sometimes that’s the way prayer feels.  It feels a little bit like “what are we doing here?”  What are we doing when we interact with God?  What are we doing when we talk to God?  Does prayer really change things? God explicitly says I already know what you need before you ask for it, but ask for it anyway.  Does that confuse anybody other than me?  I know what you need, but come on and ask me and sometimes I’m going to give it to you and sometimes I’m not and I could all the time, but you’ve just gotta trust me in that one.  Does that confuse anyone except me?  This is part of the tension of prayer, isn’t it, and yet, we recognize that prayer is distinctly and deeply powerful, isn’t it?

There’s a story of a woman who grew up in Latvia under the communist regime.  This great scholar, Kenneth Bailey, went over and was doing some teaching in Latvia after communism fell.  There was this group of young people that this woman was a part of.  He went up to her and asked her how she became a follower of Jesus. “Was it someone in your family that was a follower of Christ?”  She said, “No, I never met another follower of Jesus.  Nobody in my family followed Christ.”  “Was it a church that remained open under the communist regime?  Underground churches?”  “No, I’d never heard of any church.”  “Was it a missionary that came?”   She said, “No missionary ever came.”  Bailey pressed her and said, “Well then, how in the world did you become a follower of Christ?”  She said, “When we would go to funerals, they would still allow us to say the Lord’s Prayer. As we recited the Lord’s Prayer, God stirred something so deeply in me and drew me to himself.  As we said this prayer, I needed to know THIS God.”  That’s part of the power of prayer, isn’t it?  It introduces us to the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

If you’ve been with us over the first few weeks, we have looked at the first few stanzas of the Lord’s prayer. We looked at the fact that the foundation of prayer is this “Abba approach” to God — that we view God as our Father in heaven.  We talked about wrestling with that because every single one of us had an imperfect dad. To view God as Father means that we need to go to the Scriptures to ask the Scriptures what do they say about God as our Father.  We did that.  We need to remember that God is distinctly other — THE other.  He is holy, beyond compare.  He stands alone.  This is a tension, isn’t it?  God as Father and loving and welcoming us home AND as distinct and standing alone.  Last week we said your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  That this part of the prayer (your kingdom come, your will be done) is a longing for God, not only to make his name great here, but to change the world to reflect more of the ethic of heaven.  We said we don’t just pray that and sit on our hands, but we pray that and we step in to be part of the answer to the prayer.  I got an email from my dad just last night.  My dad is an engineer and he’s currently on a mission’s trip in Honduras teaching in some of their universities and working with kids.  Just listen to this paragraph from the email:  “God is on the move around the globe, taking back ground from the Enemy little by little.  From dusty schools in Honduras to sweaty slums in India (where he was last summer), wherever his people are being faithful to follow him into uncomfortable places at inconvenient times where success is wholly dependent on God’s provision.  I’m convinced once again that if we aren’t seeing the movement of God in the worlds we live in then we just aren’t looking in the right places or putting ourselves in the right positions.”  Yes!  Thank you, dad. So, your kingdom come, God, your will be done and we play a part in that.

The next part of the prayer is going to be three petitions.  The first three were about God:  1) God, make your name holy, make your name great; 2) God, make your kingdom; and 3) God, make your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  The next three parts of the prayer are about us:  1) God, give us this day our daily bread; 2) God, forgive us; and 3) God, lead us.  Those are the next three petitions and that’s where we’re going.  Today, we’re going to look at this little phrase — give us this day our daily bread.   “Daily bread” is this Greek word, “epiousion.”  It was an unknown word in the time that it was written.  As we looked through ancient Greek literature to find out what exactly this word meant and to unpack the distinctness of this word, there was almost zero literature on what this word really meant.  We knew that it meant daily bread, but early followers of Jesus really took this to be ethereal, to make it very spiritual — give us the spiritual sustenance we need to survive.  In 1914, a scholar by the name of Adolf Deissmann unpacked and found this little shopping list.  On the shopping list was this word “epiousion,” daily bread.  They solved this centuries old puzzle about what this word really means.  It really means…..bread.  It means….daily bread.  It meant fresh bread.  It meant bread that was not baked yesterday.  This is not the marked down bread in the grocery store and, no offense to the food bank, it’s not food bank bread.  It’s daily bread.  It was bread that was baked TODAY for TODAY.  That’s what the word meant.  So Jesus invites us to pray for the stuff we need in order to survive.  Prayer is very real in that way.  He says come to me.  Pray for the stuff you need in order to survive.

There’s just one problem I have with this prayer.  I’ve been thinking about this and I’ve been praying and I’ve been praying it in the morning before my feet hit the ground, but there’s a massive problem I have with praying for my daily bread.  I have a refrigerator full of food!  My guess is you do too!  So how do I pray for my daily bread when I have two loaves of bread in my refrigerator??  How do we do that??  Is there any point to praying this?   Let’s just be honest for a second, there’s people all around the globe who have never uttered this prayer and yet have eaten every single day.  And there’s people all around the globe who are praying this….and starving.  We’ve just gotta be honest with that reality, don’t we?  How do we, as followers of Jesus, in all honesty and all sincerity, pray give us today our daily bread when we have full bellies and full refrigerators? Are we just playing some spiritual game here with God?  Are we just jumping through the hoops?  We know we should pray it so we do, even though I know exactly what I’m going to eat next week because my wife wrote it up on our little menu that we have hanging in our dining room.  So are we just playing games?  Are we just jumping through religious hoops?  Does it make any difference whether we pray this or not?  Because I pray before my meal, but I very rarely honestly pray for my meal; in the sense that if God doesn’t provide I don’t know how I’m going to eat.  Some of you have been in that position.  Some of you may be even are right now (we do have a food bank).  That’s why we have a food bank.  We want to meet practical needs in our community and in this body.  That’s a huge ministry and so important, but if we were honest with ourselves, very few times have we wondered where our next meal was going to come from or when it was going to come. The closest I’ve been is when I’ve gone on vacation with Kelly’s family…..because they just don’t eat!  We get in the car and drive…..and I’m like oh goodness, I’m going to starve in this car.  Our family’s philosophy on vacation was “we’re not doing anything so we should probably just eat.”  Her family’s philosophy is “we’re not doing anything so we don’t need to eat.”  I like my family’s philosophy better.  Every In-and-Out Burger we went to on our way to California we stopped at.  We just gotta pay homage.  We just gotta do our part.  That’s the closest I’ve been to wondering where my next meal was going to come from—-being on vacation with my wife’s family.

So what’s the point of prayer then?  If we already know, and if we don’t we have a credit card in our back pocket, where our next meal’s going to come from, what’s the point?  Here’s the point.  The reality is, friends, that prayer does transform the world we live in and, maybe even more importantly, it shapes the people we become.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14, a well-known verse, it says: …if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.   I’m going to transform them and I’m going to transform the world that they live in.  This all happens by prayer.  This all happens because we start to seek the face of God and we long to hear his voice.  Prayer transforms the pray-er and then releases them in power!

I want to give you three things that praying “give us this day our daily bread,” even with a full belly and filled refrigerator, actually does for us.  I want to answer that question “why pray this if we already know where our next meal and our next twelve meals are going to come from?”  Why do that?  Let’s look at this verse again. Here’s what Jesus asks us to pray or the model he gives us to pray:  Give us this day our daily bread.  Here’s what Jesus wants to do.  He wants to ground you and I in the glorious present, in the now.  In the here.  He wants to break us out of the fact that so many of us live in a tainted past or an anxiety-ridden future and he wants to plant our feet firmly in the now.  Through prayer, that’s one of the things that he does; he teaches us how to be present.   The emphasis, in this passage, is on right now, today, God, give us what we need!  Prayer is putting aside…when we go to God and ask him God, would you provide for my every need…prayer is putting aside the debris, it’s putting aside the anxiety.  Prayer is putting aside the worry and asking God–God, will you meet me in this space, right now, with everything that I need.  It’s boldly standing, in the moment, in awe of who God is and receiving all that God wants to deliver.  That’s what prayer is.  We don’t pray in the past.  We don’t pray in the future.  We simply pray right now.  That’s what Jesus is inviting us to.  It’s part of, and it leads us to, the reality that God loves relationship with us.  If we were to pray hey, God, would you give me ALL the needs for 2016?  And he were to say absolutely.  Done deal.  And he were to give them all to us right then….you know what we would do?  We’d be like hey, let’s talk again January 1, 2017, and if you could make the deposit again then we’d be good again.  But praying “give us this day our daily bread” keeps us connected to the vine.  In John 15:5, Jesus says this:  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  So when we pray “give us our daily bread,” we’re connecting ourselves to God in the now, in the present, and saying God, I need to hear your voice.  God, I need to feel your touch.  God, I need to receive your provision.  Not tomorrow, but God, I need it right now.  Let’s be honest, friends, some of us are riding a spiritual wave that crested and broke years and years ago.  This epiousion, this daily bread, is that.  It’s bread for the moment.  It’s bread for today, so Jesus is saying you don’t need to live on stale bread.  Come to me in the present.  Come to me in the now.

I love the way the great preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, puts it: “The God who made heaven and earth, and orders the stars in their courses, likes to hear our lisping praises, likes to hear our petitions.”  Isn’t that great news?  Being grounded in the present naturally leads to enjoying His presence.  Because right now, in this moment, is the only time you can enjoy God’s presence.  When we’re tied up living in the past or when we’re anxiety-ridden living in the future failure that we anticipate coming, it’s impossible to enjoy God.  It’s only when we plant ourselves firmly in the now that we can enjoy the presence of our great God.  Jesus says pray give us this day our daily bread.  Here’s what we’d like to pray for—give us next year, give us whatever we need whenever we need it.  What he says is no, I want that connection, I want that every day.  I will give you enough provision for today and then let’s talk again tomorrow because I love to hear your voice and I want you to know Me and I want to be known by you.

So, does that mean that saving or planning is bad?  I’m sure somebody is thinking well, so should we not plan? Should we not have a full refrigerator?  Should we not have a retirement plan?  Should we just simply trust God in the every day and then make no provision for anything else?  That’s a great question, I’m glad you asked that. Dallas Willard actually answered that:   “Now, to make it clear about the teaching on prayer, it is quite alright to have things now that we intend to use tomorrow and to work or even pray in a sensible way for them.  What hinders or shuts down kingdom living is not the having of such provisions, but rather the trusting in them for future security.  {This is the key, guys.  Trusting in them for future security.}  We have no real security for the future in them, but only in the God who is present with us each day.”  That’s good!  It’s not what we have, it’s what we trust in.  It’s who we trust in that is the determining factor.

Here’s the way that Jesus goes on.  He says:  Give us this day our daily bread…  So I’ve been praying this and go Lord, you already gave it.  You already provided it.  I’ve got a full fridge and a filled belly……  I’m asking for something you’ve already given.  What I sense God saying was then praise me because I’ve already given it. Then honor me because I’ve already given it.  I’ve been good to you, I’m being good to you and now that you’re praying for it, you’re starting to realize I’ve already provided it.  Here’s one of the things that prayer does: 1) it creates a presence in the moment, but 2) it creates an awareness of the blessings that we already have.  When I pray for what I already have, I become aware of all that God has graciously given.  But if I don’t pray give us this day our daily bread, I might pray before my meal but I will never genuinely be in awe and grateful that God has provided it.  This type of prayer has led me to the realization that an abundance of products that we’re surrounded by erodes our awareness of God’s provision.  Let me say that again — the abundance of products that we’re surrounded by erodes our awareness of God’s provision.  Let me say it another way for you.  God’s consistency erodes my ability to see His goodness.  That’s true across the board.  Here’s how I know that:  Very few of you got up this morning and {breathing in}…! I can’t believe I can still breathe.  This is a miracle! God, you have oxygen in the air!  You’re filling our lungs with breath.  You’re allowing my heart to keep beating! And all of these are gifts from God, but His consistency erodes my ability to see His goodness.  I woke up this morning…voice almost gone.   I’m like oh, Lord, come on!  But for the last 51 Sundays,  when my voice has been fine, I haven’t woken up and said, “Lord, thank you that my voice works today.”  Isn’t it strange how His consistent…like a river lapping over a rock….his goodness erodes our ability to see how absolutely amazing to us He’s being.  When was the last time you thanked God for some of the simple small things in life?  The breath in your lungs.  The sunrise coming up this morning….most likely the sun’s going to set over those beautiful mountains tonight.  When was the last time you just thanked Him?  When was the last time you opened your refrigerator and said man, Lord, I am blessed.  When was the last time you took a walk through your neighborhood and said hi to a few of your friends and thought Lord, thank you for fresh air.  Thank you for good friends.  Thank you for the blessing it is to be alive.  His goodness erodes our ability to see it.  His consistent goodness.

I just want to give you four things….I’m going to fly through these…..four things that when we become aware here’s what starts to happen in us.  An awareness prevents blessings from becoming burdens.  You go well, that doesn’t happen to me.  I think it does happen to you, let me give you an example of the way I’ve seen this in my own life.  I took my kids to the Children’s Museum in Littleton a few Fridays ago.  It was really muddy that day. My youngest son, Reid, is three and has a mind of his own now.  He was running all around.  He’d literally look for the mud and he’d just walk through it!  Clueless!  My daughter avoids it at all costs, but he is finding it at all costs.  We get back into the car and riding home and I feel these little feet kicking my seat!  I’m like God, help him!  I get out of the car and look at the back of my seat and it’s just covered in mud.  I’m like… kids!!!!! You’re so dirty!  (Ryan describes his frustration!)  I just sensed God saying, “Praise me for the mess!  Praise me for the mud!  Because the mud is tied to one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever given you.”  If you lose sight of the awareness, the blessing has a tendency to start to be a burden.

Here’s the second thing that happens.  If we are aware of what God’s given, it guards us against the comparison trap.  Of—-God, you’ve given me THIS, but you’ve given them THAT!  And come on, You’ve gotta give a little bit more.  And let’s just be honest a moment, Pinterest and Instagram are not helping us at all in this department. It’s so easy to compare to everybody else.  You see what somebody else makes for dinner and you’re like, “Sweet Lord!  How many hours did that take?”  Are they a real person?!  We start to diminish the blessings God’s given us because we look at some of the things we’ve…..but if we become aware of the fact God, there is a race that you have called ME to run.  Not anybody else but me and I want to run it in a way that honors and lifts high your name.  I think that’s a word for a lot of moms here.  As a mom, it’s so easy to compare yourself to what other people are doing and how other people are raising their kids.  It’s so easy to compare yourself and go man, if I could do a little bit better here or a little bit better there……I see so many moms walking around with so much guilt.  I just want to say take a step back.  Remind yourself of what God’s given you.  Become aware of the blessings in your life and then run the race that God’s called you to run.

So it keeps blessings from becoming burdens.  It guards against the comparison trap.  It stops complaining.  I love reading through the story of Israel in the desert and how after manna was falling for a time they started complaining to God.  Let’s just zoom back.  I get it!  Eating the exact same thing every single day, day after day……I like a little bit of differentiation, too.  If it were burritos falling from heaven I’d be like I’m all in!!  But manna, really.  It was everything they needed and nothing more.  That’s all it was.  They start complaining to God…..about a MIRACLE!  They’re in the desert.  Bread is falling from the sky every single morning.  They get up and go…..I’d really like some quail!  I’d like a little bit of meat.  One of my favorite passages in the whole Scriptures…..God’s like….you want meat??  I’ll give you meat!!  So many quail came that it said it was coming out of their nostrils!!  They’re like okay, fine, manna’s good!  We love manna!  Could we get some Nutella to put on it?!

I’m convicted about how many times I’ve complained about a miracle.  If we become aware—-and prayer’s one of the ways we do this—-and are reminded that God has already given us our daily bread, it prevents us from having blessings that become burdens, it prevents us from comparing ourselves to others, it prevents us from complaining about a miracle and it prevents us from becoming entitled.  To think that we deserve everything we get.   No, no, no, no, no, friends!  This is gift.  This is grace.  ALL of life is grace.  There’s not one little part of it that isn’t grace.  Here’s what happens.  When we become aware, the most natural thing that flows from that is…..God, you’re amazing!  God, I’m so thankful!  We started this by asking should we really pray this prayer if we have a full belly and a filled fridge.  Does that make any sense?  My argument is oh, absolutely!! Because it not only transforms the world you live in, but it transforms the people we become because it grounds us in the glorious present and it allows us to enjoy relationship with God.  Because it allows us to become aware of all the blessings that God has given us and to respond with gratitude.  You see, an awareness of God’s provision should always be an invitation to a life of gratitude.  Always. Always. Always.  If we lose sight of this ultimate reality that we are really dependent beings….because we start to go God, I’ve worked for that. I’ve done that.  Here’s what His response is: tell me more about that.  Tell me more about how you’ve worked for it, because I’d like to tell you about how I wired you and how I gave you the gifts that you have and how I gave you the mind that you have and how I gave you the body you have and how I gave you the air that’s in your lungs and how I wired you…….    Because EVERYTHING we have is a gift from God.  If we lose sight of that perspective, we lose sight of it all.

Finally—–Give US this day OUR daily bread.  I was astounded as I prayed back through this prayer over and over again that at every place there’s a pronoun it’s plural.  OUR father…..   Give US OUR daily bread…..   Forgive US OUR trespasses…….   Lead US not into temptation…..   Deliver US…..    I was convicted of how many prayers that I pray are “me” centered.  These prayers are plural.  Our God is a plural God and He invites us to pray plural prayers.  I can’t pray or model my prayer life after this prayer and pray only for me.  It breaks me outside of my egocentric bubble and springs me into the world that God has created, the people that God has created and the life that God has created me to live.  Give US this day OUR daily bread.  We talked last week about praying thy kingdom come and thy will be done and how it naturally launches us into being the solution to the prayer that we prayed.  The same is true when we pray give us OUR daily bread.    Here’s what it does.  It creates solidarity.  Not just an awareness of, but a connection to, people around the world that don’t have enough.  {Friends, look up at me for a second.}  We’ve got to find a solution to this problem.  There’s more than enough food in the world to feed everybody.  You know that, right?   We burn food.  So maybe somebody in this room is smart enough to be part of the solution to this problem.  But we can’t pray give US this day our daily bread with all sincerity, if we don’t care about the people in the US who don’t have enough.  God has to stir something in our heart, God has to stir something in our soul as we pray that.  One of the huge benefits of prayer in the way Jesus taught us to pray is that it ties us together with not only our needs individualistically, but the needs of the entire world and this is part of the community of faith that we are a part of.  What I’ve found is that it’s really difficult to judge somebody and pray for them.  You can try it and maybe you can find a way to do it.  I haven’t been able to.  I can’t find a way to judge somebody and pray for them.

Here’s what happens—-Solidarity with people in need creates a mission in my soul.  It stirs it up.  It sends me out.  It’s why so many of you are helping with Family Promise this coming week.  Because you’ve been praying……God’s put this on your heart and you’ve stepped into the mission.   It’s why some of you are praying about going to India or China this summer.  Because you’re praying and you’re going God, how do we become a part of the solution to the problem.  Give us this day our daily bread…..and there’s millions and millions and millions around the globe for whom that prayer is not being answered for them in the way it’s being answered for us.  It’s why so many of you, every single week, give so many hours to our food bank.  {Look up at me a second.}  You’re making a difference!  You’re making a huge difference in very real needs, but more than that, you’re making a difference in people and they’re meeting Jesus and the kingdom of God is expanding and pushing back the darkness.  Thank you!  But prayer is where that begins.  Prayer is where that’s birthed.  You show me somebody who prays give US today OUR daily bread and I will show you somebody who doesn’t just think about themselves, but who’s engaged with the needs of the people around them.

There’s this story about this monk who left his commune and went away to the mountains for a number of weeks to spend time seeking the Lord….by himself.  He came back after those few weeks and he stepped back into the commune with the other monks.  One of the monks said to him, “You don’t look any different.”  He looked back at him and said, “No, but you do!”  That’s the power of prayer.  It’s not so much that it changes us in a way that people can always see, but it changes the way that we see everybody else.  The type of prayers we pray determines the kind of people we become.  {Write that down.}  The type of prayers we pray determines the kind of people we become.

We all have very real needs.  Most of the time they’re not bread.  Full fridges and filled bellies.  But there are things that we genuinely do need and that’s what the crux of this phrase and this prayer is about.  Come to me with your needs.  Come to me with the things that are lacking and I want to fill you up is what God says.  One of the things you and I need I think Mother Teresa summarized really well.  Here’s what she said: “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for.  We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love.  There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.  The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty—-it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love as there is a hunger for God.”   Wow!!

Imagine if we started to become the type of people who genuinely prayed give us today our daily bread.  As we prayed it, we grounded ourselves in the glorious now—-the only time that we can have relationship with God. Right now.  And as we prayed it we became aware of all the ways in our life that God has already answered this prayer.  And it started to link our hearts with the people around us that don’t have enough and challenged us to be part of the solution.  What might this community of faith look like if we really started to do this?  What might God do with us if we started to say I’ve got more than enough and I’d love to meet that need for you. What would God do through a community of faith, like this church, if we started to embrace His heart for the people who don’t have enough and we started to assume that God wanted us to be the answer to the prayer. Here’s what would happen, friends, and I know this because it has already happened.  It would change the world!  It’s done it once.  The prayer I want to pray is God, will you, through us, do it again?!

For two millennium, followers of Jesus have been coming to this table.  They’ve been coming to this table to remind themselves that while we live by bread, we do not live by bread alone.  We’ve been coming to remind ourselves at this table, for over two thousand years, that the true bread, the true genuine bread that we really need, every single one of us, is Jesus himself.  In the book of John 6:35, he says I am the bread of life.  And if you eat of this bread, you will have eternal life.  He says I am the bread of life, so come and eat my flesh and drink my blood and if you don’t you have no part of me.  In doing so, what he was saying was you’ve got to take me in, you’ve got to allow me to become a part of you.  You can’t just associate with me. You’ve got to take me in in a way that transforms you at the very core of who you are.   And followers of Jesus, for two thousand years, have been coming to this table to remember that He is the genuine, true bread that our hearts long for and He is the giver of all that we need.  As you come this morning, come knowing that He longs and loves to hear your voice.  He loves to meet your needs.  Come present, now.  Come aware and as you come remember there’s followers of Jesus all around the globe this morning celebrating this table.  You’re part of that community of faith.  {Communion begins.}