Far too often we treat prayer like a cosmic 911 service. Some emergency happens, and suddenly, we become praying people.
On a daily basis, we try not to bother God with the little stuff, thinking that we can handle most circumstances on our own. Most of the time, life feels manageable. We rationalize that we are smart, industrious, hard-working; and with time and money, we can make most of our problems go away. We feel self-reliant, independent, and free.
That sounds a lot like America – “Freedom is independence!” But it doesn’t sound much like Jesus.
In this passage, Jesus is going to open our eyes to what real freedom looks like. And he’s going to do it with a simple prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
There are five characteristics of this prayer that recalibrates our soul orientation to God:
- Surrendered Prayer: Everything up unto the midpoint of this prayer has been God entranced, and it is only after these Godward prayers have been offered that Jesus then adds a prayer for daily bread. Jesus trains our focus on God first and then teaches us to bring prayers for our own needs second. Do you see what’s happening here? Jesus is recalibrating our souls. We instinctively see our needs first. and when we’re in pain or distress, we naturally become a bit self-absorbed. Jesus is teaching us to lift our eyes, to see our needs in light of the bigger picture, to understand the plot line of our stories within the arc of a grander narrative, and then to bring our daily needs before our Father. This all reframes our perspective and helps us to remember the glorious purposes of God. There is immense freedom when we begin to see our needs in light of eternity. We should come to our Father with open hands, surrendered to His glorious purposes in our lives.
- Communal Prayer: Notice that this prayer is in the plural: “our daily bread.” Jesus is teaching us to pray, not only for our own needs, but also for the needs of our neighbors. There is immense freedom when we begin to see our needs alongside the needs of others. And so, we come to our Father with loving hearts, lifting up each other’s needs in prayer.
- Earnest Prayer: At the heart of this request is the most basic of human needs, a daily ration of food. Jesus is teaching us to bring our daily needs before our Father; and at the same time to remember to rest in God’s provision and promise. Jesus is inviting us to rest, to cease striving, to cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.
- Holistic Prayer: God’s Old Testament provision of bread (mana) for the Israelites in the wilderness wasn’t ultimately about bread. The bread was an illustration of a deeper reality. Just as they were utterly dependent on God for their physical sustenance, they were likewise utterly dependent on God for their spiritual sustenance as well. Jesus is teaching us to bring our daily needs before the Father, and at the same time to remember that man shall not live by bread alone. There is immense freedom when we embrace our created design and entrust our needs, physical and spiritual, into our Father’s care. This orientation doesn’t negate or diminish what we’re going through, but it does put our life circumstances into an eternal perspective.
- Trustful Prayer: This is a simple prayer of child-like faith. Jesus is teaching us that this universe is a perfectly safe place to be when God is your Father. There’s no scarcity in His Kingdom; He knows what you need before you ask; and He loves to give good gifts to his children. So, when we ask Him for daily bread, we can remember that we are the beloved child of a good Father. There is immense freedom when we pray as beloved children of God secure in the provision and promise of our good Father.
Don’t you see how this prayer turns the world upside down?
We think life and freedom is found in being, self-reliant, self-sufficient, and self-secured. We believe freedom is independence. But this perspective leaves us lonely, anxious, and scared. Jesus is giving us a better way.
Takeaway: Freedom is in dependence.
Jesus is teaching us how to live in real freedom as beloved children of God, learning to pray to Him.
Living the Message episode available here: https://youtu.be/hkBzsrL9uM8