Give us this day our daily bread

Eighth in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer to pray in times of stress"

Let's envision a scenario where we may need food and have none. It will be a comfort then to recall the Lord's encouragement to pray for daily bread. Yes "…it is permissible and lawful to supplicate God for temporal mercies." (-A. W. Pink).

In this request we will remember the widow of Zarephath to whom the prophet Elijah was sent during a famine to seal his survival with hers. We will look at this story for a few insights in addition to the Lord’s Prayer petition that we are studying in this post. Man does not live by bread alone…!

Israel was in a drought. The Lord had commanded Elijah, to proclaim: As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word. (1Ki 17:1) Then he removed himself to an area with a brook and was fed by ravens, but the brook dried up. This part of Scripture has comforted me over the years. Yes, God does provide brooks in our lives, and yes, at times they dry up and we must move on.

Then, God told him: Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you. (1Ki 17:9)

The widow lived in Phoenicia, an area just north of Israel also affected by the drought. When Elijah arrived, he asked her for water. She went to get it.

When Elijah asked her for bread, her reply was: "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die." (1Ki 17:12)

This woman who was outside the nation which God had elected to enlighten the world, had been enlightened by Israel despite their current plight. She understood that their omniscient God knew she had only a handful of meal and a little oil. Understanding that God knows us personally is the wonderful underpinning of a simple faith, even when we feel very discouraged.

Elijah then said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’" (1Ki 17:13-14)

The LORD watches over widows and has pity on fatherless children. (Jer 49:11)

She did what he asked her to do. We must hear and do. If you only hear God's word and do not put it into practice, you are deceived. (James 1:22-24)

They had bread for many days, but a different challenge came: ...the son of the woman… became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. (1Ki 17:17)

This is a reminder that our daily bread is not more precious than the people we love, but the event occurred to introduce the widow to the God of Israel.

When her son died she cried, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!" (1Ki 17:18) Her tiny faith collapsed.

Then Elijah revived the boy and she said, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth." (1Ki 17:24)

This story provides an Old Testament glimpse into God’s power to resurrect the dead, along with the verity that He is able to provide our daily bread. As we share our daily bread with others, God is at work to save the lost and strengthen the fainthearted.

Thy Kingdom come

Thy Kingdom come brings to mind truths that help us rest and relax from anxiety. We recall the Beatitudes and Christ's promises, and think about the world to come where there are no more tears... And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Rev 21:4)

God has so arranged our experience of life that we can enjoy a foretaste of his kingdom now. We read of that pleasure in the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Mat 13:45-46) This, figuratively, is what each of Christ’s disciples had done, and must do.

Yet at times we, as they, might wonder if we chose wisely. Even Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist, asked through his own disciples: Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Mat 11:3-5)

We do not always see the mighty works of God in our walk with the LORD, but we can know we do live in his kingdom now: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… and Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:3, 10)

Which art in heaven

Fourth in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer to pray in times of stress"

The contemporary versions of the Bible do not include the words, "which art" or "who is" in the first line of The Lord's Prayer, in either Matthew or Luke. They simply say, "Our Father in heaven." Shortening the phrase makes it more elegant from a modern literary standpoint, but perhaps the ancient phrase that prefaces "in heaven" by "which art" is helpful in directing our gaze.

God is in heaven, that place of perfect rest and harmony.

When the U.S. put a man on the moon, some were offended that the heavens had been pierced and troubled by scientific exploits. Today, clouds are seeded by technologists to achieve various goals. Such news may make us feel that heaven has become mundane.

Has God been displaced? Is heaven above or within? Christ taught that it is both. In fact, to arrive there after we die, we must enter it while we are alive. We find peace by acknowledging that Jesus opened heaven for us by his death on the cross, taking our sins on himself. That is how we enter God's kingdom.

Heaven cannot be seen by our eyes, but has been seen in visions and dreams. Moreover, there are heavens above heavens, and we learn from the Lord’s Prayer that God’s base of operations is there.

When we pray, we should look to the One who is above all, who is in control and has the power to do all things.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. Why should the nations say, "Where, now, is their God?"
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.(Ps 115:1-3)

Envisioning the heavens, all anxiety slips away.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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