Jesus’ Encouraging To Pray

Hi, Friends,

We hope you’re doing well, or at least just OK, during the shelter-in-place quarantine. We miss being able to see all of you, shake your hand, look you in the eye and ask how you’re doing! We won’t be taking that privilege for granted anymore, will we?

In times of distress, disruption, and chaos, human beings often pray. It matters little their previous religious beliefs or practices or lack thereof. In distress, we cry out to a higher power—whomever or whatever we may believe that higher power is. For followers of Jesus, we believe that our higher power is the personal, triune God who has revealed himself as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and through the pages of inspired scripture.

In his ministry, Jesus regularly invited his followers to pray to God the Father. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) On another occasion, Jesus encouraged his disciples with this promise: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15:7)

So praying—directing our thoughts and words to God—is to be a natural, normal part of the Christian life.  Anticipating, this, Jesus provided a “model prayer” for us to use in knowing how to talk with God. We call it The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. It goes like this:

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

(Matthew 6:9-13)

Now there’s certainly merit in simply reciting this beautiful prayer. No doubt many of us have done so in a worship service, at a wedding, or even a funeral. But beyond recitation, in this prayer Jesus is inviting us to simply talk with God our Father about six things—our identity, the expansion of God’s kingdom, provision, relationships, protection, and praise. And I want to call our attention to the third demarcation about provision.

Jesus frames the request we’re to make this way: Give us today the food we need. Perhaps you’re more familiar with these words: Give us this day our daily bread. Jesus is inviting us to make specific, daily entreaty for our needs!

Very typically, we are prone to think that we should not waste God’s time with our material needs. We think he certainly has more to be occupied with right now, as in the global pandemic, financial collapse, countries with overburdened health care systems, war, famine, water scarcity, and injustice. Certainly these are all very important. But in this instruction, Jesus refutes that notion that we are wasting God’s time with our own needs or that it’s’ somehow selfish.

Sometimes we also think we should pray in vague generalities, and then trust God to provide whatever he knows is best in his own time. But here Jesus refutes that notion as well, since he is encouraging his people to pray boldly, specifically, and daily.

Praying for “Our Daily Bread” has 2 applications. First, Jesus invites us to pray for our material, physical, and financial needs. That is, for our daily essentials of food, clothing, and shelter. And also our health and wellness—for our needs are regarding health, healing and restoration from sickness and disease, and for protection (as in, against contraction of the virus).

Secondly, we are to pray for “daily bread” to minister to others. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see, ears to hear him each day as we are looking for both the opportunities and resources to help and serve others—family, friends, neighbors, our church members, etc. God may use us to be the answer to someone else’s prayers by distributing daily bread to them. Right now, that might mean we call or text someone to check in and ask if they are OK or if can you supply any of their needs.

We love you and care about your health, safety, and well-being in soul and body. If you have a specific prayer request, you can simply respond to this email and we’ll forward that need to our Intercessory Prayer Team who pray for these requests each week with confidence and expectation.

Please feel free to forward or share this note if you think they may be encouraged, too.

Stay home. Be at peace