Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why Only Ask For Daily Bread?

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.

10 comments:

  1. I thought this was a wonderful post Mark. I had more comments, but I really couldn't find a good way to phrase them, so I'll just leave it at that.

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  2. Mark, great post! I needed to hear that today.

    Isn't Randy something else? I love that guy. He just back from meeting with a group of Iranian Christians at the foot of Mount Ararat. Reckon he has some good stories from that? :)

    DU

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  3. Wow! Iranian Christians!? That's so cool! As if Randy didn't already get invited to enough good speaking engagements, you're right, this will just make him better. He's really a gem.

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  4. Mark~ I totally agree with Tim and David....Wonderful post. We do all fall short when we fail to realize how blessed we truly are. there are times in my life when I realize it...how blessed I am...(generally when something really terrible happens and it hits close to home, but also the times of peace and contentment...I feel my blessings. But alas, those times are to far and few between. Most days I've got my nose stuck to the grindstone, living daily life, and well, staying frustrated I guess. My problems sound so silly when I think of them compared to some others problems, or when I stop...take a breath...and realize how blessed I am. I have a great husband, beautiful children, my health, a roof over my head, a super cool ride....(ahem....yeah I know....thats a little TO materialistic) (Goodness I butchered that spelling.) I guess what Im trying to say is I get what you said. I will defintely try to keep that in my mind more. Im very blessed...I have a great minister. See you soon~~
    Whitney

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  5. We just returned from a trip up north to view some excellent fall foliage. And, on our trip each day we started out with a simple prayer (for safety, health, and time to enjoy what we saw). And I agree God just amazes you the most when you ask for so little. I will try and incorporate this in my everyday life...just like I did when I was on my trip, and just like you have started doing.

    God is always so amazing, but sometimes we get so caught up in the accural of stuff, knowledge, etc that we forget to see all that he does.

    Thanks for the thought Mark. And I definetly agree that sometimes the lessons on the things we feel the most about (if approached from the right angles) will open our eyes to much more than we anticipated or imagined. I know Bruce's sermons used to be simple but so profound.

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  6. Katie and I were just reading a great passage from Proverbs 30:7-9 -

    Two things I ask of you, O LORD... give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

    I think Agur and Jesus would have gotten along just fine.

    Hmm. That hurts just a bit more. How many of us Americans have you heard praying, "God, please don't make me rich. Anything but that!"

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  7. I've often really wrestled with just how much Jesus would approve of a capitalist society like ours. We're so money-driven, it really bursts our bubble that anyone would suggest that something else might be more worth our time than accumulating material things.

    Thanks for sharing that, Danny...I'm a big fan of Agur, too!

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  8. Man can have only one master...there can only be one blank check in one's life at any one time.

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  9. Agreed, I think it is clear that we are more abundantly blessed than we deserve. I think that we miss much of what God has already done when we are asking for larger territory. I think the challenge to our prayer life will come when we realize that even our daily bread is more than most receive and this cuases us to wonder, "Why me?" Thanks for your post!

    ~JK

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  10. This is a bit late, but I'm still commenting. I agree Mark. I don't think God approves at all of our capitalist society. I've heard many sermons saying "it's okay to be rich so that you can give" and I really think that's just a rationalization so we can continue to ignore what we're called to be. I would step on a lot of toes if I freely said what I believe about the cars we drive, houses we own, etc. But I'll just say that we're definitely not following in the footsteps of Jesus.

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