Today we continue our six week series looking at the Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13, which sits right in the middle of, what I believe, is one of the most significant teachings of Jesus, and one of the best descriptions of what life in the Kingdom of God is truly all about, the Sermon on the Mount.
Right smack in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, the crucial teaching about life in the Kingdom, is probably the most recognized prayer ever recorded in history, and a prayer that encompasses so much of a disciple’s life in the Kingdom of God, and what each of us should really be all about, and put our hope, time, energy, effort, and all of our life into. As I said last week it might be best called The Disciples prayer.
So 3 weeks ago we kicked it off with the first part of the Prayer, focusing on where all prayer should be focused on, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.” We spent time talking about the difficulty that we sometimes have in calling God Father, due to the struggles many of us have in our relationships with our earthly fathers. But we also talked about the great fact that because of God’s redemptive work through the life, death, and resurrection of His son Jesus, we are now adopted sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and we can literally cry out to him Daddy or Abba Father. We are adopted into a new family with our past wiped clean, and a new slate and a new inheritance, a Kingdom inheritance.
Last week we talked about the second part of the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We spent time looking at what can be called the Mission of Jesus that he lays out in Luke 4, which is based off of Isaiah 61. We talked about what it looks like when heaven touches down on earth, that it looks like Jesus, and as disciples and followers of Jesus, we are called to continue his work and his mission. And that by continuing his work of proclaiming good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s Favor, we are partnering with Jesus to see his Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. That is what it looks like when heaven touches down on earth.
Today we turn the corner from looking out to God and the world, to the part of the prayer where it turns internally into our own lives but at the same time even while it is internal, much like everything in the kingdom, it also has an external part of it as well. The 3rd part of the prayer where we focus on thoughts, and prayers on God and his provision for us. Let’s turn to Matthew 6:9-12 and look at the prayer again. “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ Jesus says we are to pray, Give us today our daily bread. With this part of the prayer we realize that our provision comes from Him and not from ourselves, our hard work, our “pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps” but they are a gift from our Heavenly Father. There are a few things that stand out with this part of the prayer, besides the fact that it’s about God’s provision for us. First it is daily bread, which is enough to get us through or as someone once said earlier in the Scriptures, 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.” Secondly, the first word in this part of the prayer is give. Our daily bread, our sustenance, our provisions are a gift from God. We can’t earn them, we can’t work for them, and we can’t put God in our debt so that he has to give us our daily bread. No, it is a free gift because God the Father wants to provide the needs of his children. I find it that he provides all I need, not all I want or hope for. We provides enough for us. Like the Israelites in the wilderness where God would send enough manna for the people for the day, and if they tried to save it, it would get moldy. God provided enough daily bread for his people Israel, and he continues providing enough for his people today. This is where I believe the rubber hits the road, we want and have more than enough, but we worry and we sweat and we yell, scream, swear, and get angry that it isn’t enough. And so we focus on money and our wants and our materialism, and not primarily on the Kingdom of God. Jesus honestly cares a lot about our everyday things, and wants us to come to him in prayer and give over these things to him, and then we can live freely in the Kingdom, and not worry about stuff (easier said than done) but just have a simple trust that God knows and God will provide. But it’s also not just about our own needs, but the third thing I noticed is that I find it very interesting that this part of the prayer doesn’t say “Give me today my daily bread.” This prayer, as most of the Bible “commands” are meant more for communal application, than individual application. Also I believe that the community can be the answer to their own prayers and “give us today our daily bread.” This means that we can provide for each other in the community, and also others in the wider community and the world. So this is where this part ties in with the part we talked about last week. That bringing heaven to earth, means being the vessel of God to provide daily bread for others.
Apparently this was supposed to be what I was speaking on today because as you know 2013 hasn’t been a great year in relation to money for the Braught’s. Seems like money is like water through a sieve right now due to some stupid things, garage door, car, hospital visit, and this week our furnace went and needed to be replaced. So I worried, I yelled, I got angry, I got frustrated, Kim and I were on edge with each other, all because money became the focus, or more like the lack of money became the focus. And then I remembered what I was speaking on and the text that I am about to read, and realized that this message is for me, and if you hear something that applies to you (which I am sure we all have this issue) than I am thankful. I am preaching the gospel to myself this morning. I am preaching that when we focus on the Kingdom of God and seek it first, everything else will be taking care of. That doesn’t mean it will go according to your plan, the way you want it to go, or have exactly everything you could ever want. No, but we are invited to know a freedom from worry and anxiety that comes from undue concern for material things.
Let’s go a few verses later in Matthew chapter 6 and see what it might say about God and our daily bread. Matthew 6:31-34 says, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Honestly, this is probably once of the most challenging passages in the entire Bible to truly live out. Especially in the midst of the consumer culture that we find ourselves. But this is also where the first part of the Lord’s Prayer gives us some help. The first part places our identity squarely on being children of God, adopted sons and daughters and not on things that can be bought, sold, manufactured, and worn (or driven, or lived in, or etc..). When our identity is wrapped up in all the wrong things, all the material stuff, than we truly worry about looking a certain way, eating at the right places, living in the right place, having the right car, etc…. But when our identity is wrapped up in being adopted sons and daughters, and our focus is seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, than God will provide the daily bread that we need. And tomorrow will worry about itself, instead of us taking on this worry that most of time we have absolutely no control over anyway.
So my question to each of us is this: What Kingdom are we living? Under whose rule and reign do we live? Do we live under our own rule and reign and seek out our own Kingdom? Trying to buy, consume, and wear an identity as King and Queen? Which then, by definition, we then believe we are the ones who work for the daily bread. We are the ones who worry, not about having enough, but worry about not having everything that everyone else has and what we want. We place our Kingdom ahead of the Kingdom of God and wonder why we are more stressed out, more unhappy, sleeping less, worrying more than those in other countries who have far less than we do but are far more well balanced and happy. Because I believe many of those people have learned what Kingdom they want to live for, the Kingdom of God. They have learned to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and God continues to provide. Or are you seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, praying each night “Give us this day our daily bread”, and trusting that he will indeed answer that cry of dependence of his children?
So let’s talk about the Lord’s Prayer, daily bread, God’s provisions, and which Kingdom we are seeking to put first in our lives. And let’s share stories of how we have seen God provide our daily bread lately.
Discussion Questions: 1. What are your insights into these passages of Scripture? What are your thoughts, comments, questions, etc.. about this part of the Lord’s Prayer? 2. Share an experience or a story when you have seen God provide for your “daily bread.” How did this experience deepen, challenge, convict, etc.. you and your faith? 3. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what should we do about it?