Last Sunday night, I preached on the Lord's prayer. I have a tendency to want to shy away from doing sermon topics that everyone has already studied a gazillion times. However, the reason we tend to study certain passages multiple times is because they are really good passages, and are worth repeating. Fred Craddock once pointed out that a preacher doesn't need to only use the latter half of an unfrequently studied minor prophet to find something refreshing for his listeners. Even the 'good old' stories continue to have great meaning for us.
I sat down and read through the prayer several times. I made a little chart and tried to analyze each line from several approaches, looking for things I hadn't caught before. Following Randy Harris' advice, I tried to approach it from the angle, "If I were to take this verse as being true and necessary for my life, what does it mean I would have to do differently?"
It's a pretty powerful prayer when you stop and consider what demands you make of yourself when you pray things like, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." If you have time, sit and read through that prayer, asking what each part of it demands of you. "What do I need to do differently in my life to be able to justifiably say this to God?"
I was particularly intrigued when I thought about the advantages of praying only for my 'daily bread'. I've seen some big crazes (such as Prayer of Jabez) where people say, "Pray that your territory will be expanded! That God will give you more and bless you more! Think of how much stuff you miss out on because you don't ask for it!" ...Yet Jesus only asked for daily bread.
So I started thinking, what if I only ask God to give me the bare essentials? "God, today I would love to have a couple of square meals to eat, and safety from any major injuries." If all I ask for is enough to get by, God's generosity very quickly becomes overwhelming.
So for the last few days, I've limited the prayer requests for myself to asking for the bare necessities. But this morning, I woke up with plenty more than what I requested. I not only have a place to lay my head; it happens to be a top-of-the-line Serta mattress with a comfy pillow (not to mention my beautiful wife sleeping next to me); located in my well-furnished bedroom, in my spacious house with an excellent heating and cooling system. I drove to work in my more-than-adequate truck listening to whatever I felt like on my iPod. Not only did I have bread to eat; I had pretty well whatever else I wanted with a variety of toppings and condiments to enhance the flavor. My health is good, my family is good, and I like my job.
What a blessed person I am. I challenge you to start only requesting what you need from God, then compare that to what he is actually giving to you, and his generosity will overwhelm you. It has me. And with such great blessings is bound to come great responsibilities...but I'll save that one for another post.