We are spending 4 weeks talking about the Lord’s Prayer…why? Because the Lord’s Prayer is truly at the heart of the Christian life. Luther believed that there was nothing more wonderful in the entire Bible than the Lord’s Prayer. It’s like a tiny cliff notes version of what it means to be a person of faith –why we do what we do…what we hope for…and what we strive for. Jesus is teaching us how we should pray, yes…but also how we should live as followers of Jesus.
It starts by placing us in right relationship with God — God is “our father in heaven”– God who belongs to all of us…the whole world…every person….and who loves us intimately like a parent, involved in our daily life…but God who is also beyond us…the heavenly God of all the cosmos, powerful and awesome and trustworthy.
Next we pray that God’s name would be hallowed…that we might honor the holy one whose name is written across creation…that we might recognize the holiness that fills the earth and all that is in it…and be reverent before all that God has made…toward one another. And then we pray that God’s kingdom might come and God’s will might be done, on earth as in heaven. Because we know that the kingdoms and nations we bring about are so messed up, to say the least. In fact, the holier we try to make them, the more evil they tend to become. Because we get sucked into self righteousness and arrogance and control…instead of trusting God’s way…God’s will… of humility and service. So we pray…that God would use us somehow…in the midst of all that is messed up…to bring God’s mercy and grace ….God’s kingdom…God’s will into the world.
And then we pray, simply…Give us today our daily bread.
And that’s the part we’re talking about today. Give us TODAY our daily bread.
How many of you are worried about having enough bread to eat today? Probably not many of you. I will tell you that Matt and I have more than enough daily bread in our fridge…our freezer…our pantry…to feed all of you. For many, many days. We might not have a balanced diet…but we wouldn’t starve. So in our culture, where food is processed, packaged, canned, frozen and basically ridiculously abundant…what does it even mean to pray for daily bread? Few of us know what it is to go hungry…to have nothing in the cupboard…or nothing readily available on the store shelves. Yet for many in the world…prayer for daily bread is real and urgent. So part of praying this prayer…is a commitment that we might be a part of providing daily bread for all. This prayer is a call for those with more than enough…to share…so all might be fed. Luther said in it, God draws our eyes to all in need. Because God provides enough for all….but sometimes we need to be the redistributors. As Gandhi also said, “Earth provides enough food to satisfy every person’s need, but not every person’s greed.” Praying for Daily Bread is a rejection of greed and its power over us so we might see and love our neighbors.
In Luke 12, shortly after Jesus teaches his disciples the Lord’s prayer, he tells them a parable about a rich man…whose land produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones to store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself — Self, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’’ All the treasure we work for and pile up…you can’t take it with you. We all know that…but honestly, we are such a greed based culture….capitalism is based on greed, after all….we just keep wanting more and more. This petition…give us today our daily bread… is a reminder that we are not called to build bigger barns to store our abundance. In our culture of affluence…of having more than enough….Jesus gives us a subsistence prayer. A reminder of what it is we need…what it is God gives us. Daily bread. Enough for today.
To focus on enough for today…what I need today…is not always easy. I think many of us spend a whole lot more time worrying about what’s ahead than we do appreciating and enjoying and giving thanks for what’s in front of us…the daily bread we have been given. Jesus wants us to focus on the day in front of us…the people in front of us…the love in front of us…the work in front of us…instead of fretting and fearing a future that is yet unknown. How many of you are worried about the future these days?
But when Jesus taught his disciples this prayer, he said, “Listen to me — do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and clothing after all. Look at the birds of the air; they don’t sow or reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Therefore do not worry, your heavenly Father knows what you need. Instead seek first God’s kingdom.. and all these things will be given to you as well. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Jesus directs us seek God’s presence and God’s goodness in this day…and God will take care of the rest. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Why are you fretting about what might or might not happen two months or two years in the future? God’s got it. You can trust God. God will give you what you need to face whatever comes. Just keep yourself in today.
Do you sense a theme in these gospels? When we pray for Daily Bread….we are reminded that our job is not to spend our life accumulating wealth…stressing and worrying about the future…endlessly stoking our anxiety about what’s ahead. No…when we pray for Daily Bread…our eyes are trained to see God’s provision in this day. In our life…right now. And of course, we’re not just talking about the provision of food. When Luther explained the prayer in his small catechism… he wrote that “Daily bread includes everything we need for our daily life, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, faithful spouse and children, faithful workers and rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, good neighbors, and the like.” These simple basics…that make life good. That’s what we pray for….but not just for ourselves. Bur for all of us. Give US this day..our daily bread. In this prayer, we pray for this goodness for others as well….which means we commit to be a part of making that happen. We commit ourselves to being good neighbors and faithful workers and building others up.
When we pray for Daily bread…we are choosing to let go of our anxiety about tomorrow. We are reminding ourselves that life is not about accumulating and preparing and achieving. Rather..when we pray for Daily bread…we are refocusing our eyes and our lives to notice God’s presence and gift in today. In your home. In your friends. In your work. In your play. In our life together. In the goodness and kindness we show to one another. So…where do you see God’s provision of daily bread in your life? Do you see it around you here? Today, I am grateful for the daily bread of family that reminds me that I am loved. And I am grateful for the daily bread of work I love and faithful and compassionate people to serve as pastor. And I am grateful for the daily bread of a safe community and clean water and fresh fruit in season. For this…here…now. I am grateful.
Therapists will tell you that one of the best tools for dealing with anxiety..is to ground yourself back where you are. Physically. To notice what’s around you. To pay attention to now. The physical reality of now. Because anxiety is all about things that are not real…they only exist in your imagination. Here. Now. That is where we are grounded. This is daily bread. This is God’s gift. God’s presence.
Jesus taught this prayer to his disciples…and it meant to be our prayer ALWAYS. Every day. All day. To ground ourselves in God’s presence. In the morning, when we rise…as we go through our day…as we rest our head down at night. Lord…Open our eyes…to see what you have given us today. Lord…Thank you…for giving us what we need….for all your hand hath provided. Thank you God…for Daily bread. May we always know it is enough. Amen.