Today’s Passage: Matthew 6:11
Prayer: it’s both the easiest thing in the world, and something so many Christians struggle with. Prayer is simple talking with God – both speaking to Him and listening to His voice. Just as all relationships require communication, so too does our relationship with our God. Why then do so many Christians fail to have a thriving prayer life? Perhaps it’s because we have yet to fully appreciate that God really does love us, and really does want to spend time with us. Perhaps also it’s because we don’t know how to pray.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been delving into the model prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples as they sat around him on a hillside all those years ago. He taught them to pray as part of his describing what a life fully sold-out and committed to the kingdom of God would look like.
So often, our prayers are more like shopping lists taken to God. We think of Him in like caste as an attendant in Bunnings. “Excuse me, but I’m looking for X: could you help me?” Our prayers can easily consist entirely of our wants and needs. What we’ve seen in the first couple of verses of the Lord’s prayer, however, shows a very different way to approach prayer. Jesus taught us to address our prayers to our Father – the one who loves us and has done everything for us to be adopted as His children. When people fully driven by love for God approach God, the most important thing for them isn’t their own circumstances, but rather the prestige and plan of their Father. Which is why Jesus taught us to pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. The focus in our prayers should be firmly foremostly on God. He is, after all, God – and we are not. We need to recognise that our wills and our kingdoms are less important than God’s will and God’s kingdom.
And yet – this is incredible! – God invites us to bring our needs before Him. Jesus taught us to go from concentrating on the perfect kingdom and will of God being brought to fruition on earth to asking God for… bread.
Some of the early church fathers were shocked by this. They thought it totally inappropriate to bother God with talk of what we need. Surely, they thought, Jesus wouldn’t teach us to drag our prayers from the sublime heights of celebrating and seeking God to… what’s for lunch.
But that, it seems to me, is precisely what Jesus does. God isn’t just the Almighty God; He is also our loving Father. And like a Father, He is genuinely concerned with our needs.
Why, though, does Jesus teach us to ask our Father for our daily bread. Shouldn’t we be saving up and preparing for the future? Isn’t that the Christian thing to do? And while we’re at it – what does bread include? Sliced white? Brioche? Truffles? Warm clothing? The latest fashion jeans?
And does God always promise to give us what we need? What about those who struggle without the things they need to survive life?