Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thirty Days of Prayer in the Home -- Day 14

Give us this Day our Daily Bread...

Remember the manna that God caused to fall in the dessert for the Israelites? God's instructions were that they were to gather one day's supply only, except on the day before the Sabbath when they could gather enough for that day and for the Sabbath, too. This reminds us, among other things, that we are daily dependent on the Lord for physical and spiritual bread.

We often think of our job as the ultimate source of our earthly needs. Yet, it is God who gave the original man and woman work to do and it is God who enables us to work now. It is God who made food and the materials we use for shelter, and God who made the materials we use for clothing. (Even synthetic fibers are made from using chemicals that God created.) Understanding that the Lord is the source of our sustenance enables us to work as we should, yet without either becoming overly confident about our own abilities or despondent and fearful if our income is threatened in some way.

Keepers at home are involved with the daily physical needs of our families. We oversee the household management, take stock of what's in pantry, cook meals, outfit our family members, do the laundry and the mending, and other things that contribute to our family's physical well-being. It's wise to set about these tasks prayerfully, remembering that the Lord is the wellspring of our lives. He loves and cares for our family members even more than we do. We can ask Him for wisdom concerning time management. We can ask Him to help us do our tasks with love. We can ask Him to help us stretch our food budget.

Jesus tells us that God knows our earthly needs before we even ask Him. Yet, he invites us to lay our needs before Him, just as we want our children to come to us. As confident children of the Lord and as citizens of His kingdom, we are to pray about everything and to accompany our petitions with thanksgiving. (Phil. 4:4-8)

What about those who do not see their earthly needs being met at the moment? If we have enough for sustenance and some to share, the Lord asks us to reach out to those in need. Most of us who live in the United States have much to give to those who are in want.

Ultimately, our greatest hunger is for spiritual food, and that is always freely given to those who beg for it. Luke 11:9-13 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Jesus is our life. He is the vine upon which we exist. He is the bread from heaven. These and many more images in the gospels, particurly in the book of John, inspire us with a daily, passionate desire to be connected to our Lord, along with overwhelming gratitude for the life He gives us. Apart from Jesus, we die and wither; with Jesus, we thrive and are fruitful. (John 15).

Just as it pains us to see people in physical hunger, it likewise pains us to see people in spiritual hunger and want. We are beggars who have been invited to enjoy God's feast, and we love to invite other beggars to this wonderful banquet. (Matthew 22:2 ff; 2 Kings 7)

Just as we can start thinking of our job and our abilities as the source of our physical sustenance, we can start thinking of our righteousness as being a source of our spiritual life. We can forget that we were saved by grace and that we daily live by grace. To become self-righteous, rather than to depend on the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, leads to all sorts of spiritual havoc. Thus, it is good for us to daily petition the Lord for our spiritual sustenance. This helps us remember and appreciate the Lord's graciousness.

Though keepers at home deal with the physical needs of the family, we must not forget that the spiritual needs of the family are even more important. Some ways we can nourish our family spiritually are to cultivate a Christ-like attitude in all that we do, to pray for our spouse and children, to teach our children God's word, and to talk with our children about spiritual things.

There is a long-time misunderstanding in the religious world that place grace and good works almost in opposition to each other. We understand that when it comes to our physical needs, an out-of-work family breadwinner would be foolish to ask God to provide for daily bread and, yet, willfully turn down a job offer that He places in the breadwinner's path. Likewise, we understand that a keeper at home would be foolish to ask God for daily bread and, yet, fail either to make it or purchase it with the means the Lord provides and serve the bread to her family.

In the same way, we show that we do not understand God's grace if we ask for our spiritual sustenance, and, yet, turn away from the good works that He puts before us. We are not to think that we can enjoy God's grace and yet willfully live any way that we want to. (Hebrews 6:1-8) We are, however, to remember that everything that we are and everything that we have comes from the Lord. Our works do not save us, but we work because we are saved.

When we understand that God is our wellspring of life, we will be frequently -- even daily -- in prayer. We will be at peace, because we believe He answer us, sometimes even before we ourselves know to ask. We rest in the confidence that our Lord provides us with everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

(Photo taken during trip to Atlanta aquarium)


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