Mr. D and I have been attending Lifespring Christian Church in Harrison, Ohio. If you’re looking for a church in that area, I’d definitely suggest checking it out. The current sermon series is about prayer. Each week, the speaker takes a line from “The LORD’s Prayer,” evaluates it, and provides an extensive explanation of its importance. I’m so thankful. I am the worst pray-er…Over the last few years, I feel like my prayers must sound like this to God:
I’d like to say I’m exaggerating (and I am being facetious, of course), but I really do feel like my prayers are this ineloquent. I sputter out the simplest, most childish prayers. I’ve asked God to teach me to pray more consistently, more thoroughly, more selflessly. I want to be a true “prayer warrior,” that is, one of those people that you can count on to go to God on your behalf.
Every sermon I’ve heard in this series has impacted my worldview and way of praying. I do try to pay attention in church, but it’s rare for me to retain a sermon for more than a week. I’m positive these will stick with me. I do think the speakers have done an excellent job, but more than that, I believe God has been preparing my heart for these lessons over the last year.
Last week’s message was on Matthew 6:11, which says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The speaker began by explaining why he thought we struggle with this request in America. I was sort of shocked, as I thought I have no trouble asking for God’s help…but as he talked, the more I realized that I, too, resist asking God for my every need. It seems like a simple request for an all-powerful God. Please LORD, provide my basic needs. But it’s not in our nature to ask for that. We often ask for what we want, but do we really believe that we NEED God and His provision? Or do we believe that we are self-sufficient? In this country, we pride ourselves on hard-work and independence. There is nothing wrong with working hard and taking responsibility for ourselves and our families, but trouble and sin arise when we begin to think that anything we have, our jobs included, are something we’ve acquired on our own.
I believe that we Americas struggle to depend on God, because we have so much. We live in an age of abundance. There is poverty in our country, no-doubt, but for the most part, Americans have more than they need. It has become the norm. We work so hard to provide ourselves with excess. We surround ourselves with abundant food and possessions. It provides a false sense of independence. We feel safe if we have more. No need to worry about running out of our needs. What we too often consider blessings have done us disservice. It distracts us from our great need for a Provider. For most of us, physical hunger is not part of our experience. We don’t often consider what are our true basic needs because we are busy chasing wants.
The last year of my life has changed me in a major way, because I experienced deep hunger. Believe it or not, I wouldn’t change the past. The hunger I learned was not physical, though I did become very aware of how difficult it can be to provide for your child. No, my hunger was emotional and spiritual. There were moments during our marital separation that I truly questioned whether I’d be able to go on. There were times when “taking the next step” in life, became very literal. I felt stunned. Could I put one foot in front of the other? Each morning that I awoke, I relived the truth. The future was uncertain, and I may have to live this difficult, lonely existence for the rest of my days. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed help. God’s help. I learned to pray more, though awkwardly, because talking to God was the only way I could continue breathing and walking through another day. If I could only count how many times I said, “Oh God, please…” I couldn’t mutter anything else, because I didn’t know how or what to pray.
Although, I would never want to go back to that marital situation, there are times when I miss those precious moments of desperation. Those times were the most incredibly intimate moments I’ve ever had with God. The world was stripped away. All that remained was my need for God and His fulfillment of that need. It was God and me.
I don’t want to forget that need, but I can already see how living this abundant life provides a wealth of distraction and fuel for my pride. Days go by when I forget to ask for God’s provision. I literally forget to rely on Him. How tragic, but I know I’m not the only one.
Asking God for your daily bread is about far more than food. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We need God to sustain us in every single way. My challenge for myself and for you is to pray that God will provide for each need, be it physical, social, mental, emotional, or most definitely spiritual. We need Him every hour.