Luke 11:3 (CEV)
3 Give us each day the food we need.
Pray … (Part 3)
There’s a famine raging in Nigeria at the moment. It’s not the first famine, and it won’t be the last. This one is being blamed on the Boko Haram and their insurgency tactics. Uganda is facing significant drought. Others in Africa are also dealing with famine caused by drought and economic instabilities, and food insecurity is always an issue for those living in refugee camps around the world, whether in Africa, the Middle East or elsewhere in the world. Natural disasters – often in countries that already deal with poverty – make sourcing food and clean drinking water a challenging prospect for millions more people every year.
If we lived there, this prayer would make a lot of sense.
If we were living through political and economic instabilities like the ones faced by Jesus’ first audience, then this would be good news!
But here we are living, for the most part, a long ways away from that.
Here, we turn on the radio … here, we turn on the T.V. … here, we open social media … here, we walk through the mall or drive down the street and we are bombarded by messages telling us in every way possible that what we have isn’t enough, and that what we need is something more.
So what does it mean to pray to our loving, gracious, generous Father and ask him to give us each day the food that we need?
What is it that we in the 21st century west are being instructed to pray for here?
I think that for Jesus’ early listeners and for us, this instruction to ask the Father to provide enough food for each day is connected with what he talks about later on in Luke 12:22 about not worrying about tomorrow, and about learning to trust that God is present and active in each day.
But I also think there is a word hidden in here that is meant to trip us up. Because it doesn’t say ‘give me each day the food I need’. It says ‘give us each day the food we need’. This isn’t about an individual view of need or an individual choice of faith. This is, I think, about driving us to see ourselves as interconnected with one another. Because of course, I might be part of the answer to the prayer my neighbour or friend is praying.
But I can’t do that if, despite all of our resources, I still find myself doubting God’s provision.
I can’t do that if, despite all of the evidence, I still forget that God has always provided for me in the past.
I can’t do that if, despite all of the experiences, I still make it out that wants are really needs that God is still responsible for snapping his fingers and replying to or else facing a crisis of faith in the making.
But when I start to see this as true, then I have the unique opportunity to participate in the miracle of God’s provision and to reorient my focus and attention away from the feeling that there is not and will never be enough, and instead find peace and joy in the practice of gratitude and the experience of being part of the flow of God’s generosity.
What if our Father cares deeply for each and every one of us and knows that by focusing on Him and on His provision, we will each begin to breathe a little lighter, trust a little deeper, and give a little fuller?
What if, because of that, we might find that our doubts about whether what we have will be enough for the requirements set in front of us find a new perspective and a new safety and a new sense of God’s presence?Journal Questions:
- How often do you find yourself focused on the worries of tomorrow? Appointments to go to, calls to make, bills to pay, food to buy?
- What practices do you find help to bring you back to God’s provision for today?
- Have you ever tried a gratitude practice? Whether it’s placing a note in a jar for something you’re thankful for every day, going around the table with your family and naming something you’re grateful after dinner, keeping a gratitude journal, or any number of other activities, I would challenge you this week to take the time to pray for your needs – but then to take time to acknowledge God’s provision for those needs.