April 5, 2012: The Thirty-Eighth Day of Lent
April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Give us this day our daily bread.” ~ Matthew 6.11 ~
Christ continues his instruction on prayer. As we study this specific prayer, we should not only note what the prayer says, but also the order in which it says it. The Lord’s Prayer addresses God as our heavenly Father, and then glorifies his will over our own. After these things, Christ places personal requests. What does this mean?
By placing the content of the prayer in this order, Christ makes a statement. The starting point for prayer must begin with recognizing relationship with God. He is Father and Lord, loving creator and ruler of the heavenly kingdom. The foundation for prayer must be based off of this loving relationship. Next, God’s will must be glorified. Those praying not only commit to furthering God’s will and heavenly kingdom, but must also be vulnerable and allow the Holy Spirit to point out ways in their own lives in which they oppose the will of God.
After these two things take place, requests may be made. Shelton says, “It is appropriate that praising God and acknowledging his sovereignty in the world come first in the prayer. Without the first half it resembles a mere shopping list, and God is reduced in some minds to a mere bellhop, who is obligated to cater to every human whim.” (LinSNTC, pg. 166) Imagine if requests came first in prayer. The wants and desires of the one praying receive the primary position of importance, and all other things become secondary. No time is taken to submit to God’s will or acknowledge the importance of relationship. All the focus goes immediately to the one praying. Christ tells his disciples that this should not be.
However, Christ does encourage his disciples to make requests. Rather than begging for un-submitted desires to be fulfilled, Christ desires his disciples to place themselves in a position of complete dependency on God. The image of “daily bread” would cause the audience to remember God’s providence of manna in the desert. Additionally, in time without freezing, refrigeration, or other food preservation techniques, food preparation would have been a daily activity by necessity. “Daily bread” would have been the literal reality for Jesus’ audience!
However, the scope goes beyond mere food. We should place all of our needs before our heavenly Father in a spirit of loving, willful submission. We remember just a few verses ago, Matthew 6.8: God knows what we need even before we ask him. The purpose of prayer is not to inform God of our necessities – he already knows them! Rather, we recognize our own dependence upon God (“poor in spirit”) and submit our own will and desires to him.
As people, it is our own natural inclination to jump to what we need and to ask God for these things. However, we need the context of loving relationship and willful submission. We should recognize this context as often as we pray. In light of this understanding, what thoughts do you have about your prayer habits?
Lord Christ, thank you for all that you’ve done – for your sacrifice and your love. Please help me to always place you first in my prayers. Let me be transparent and recognizing of my own dependence on you, always. Amen.