Posts Tagged ‘Lord’s Prayer’

daily breadBoth personally and in ministry, Sherrylee and I have seen some particularly hard financial times. I once lost the last $20 that we had in the grocery store—just pulling something out of my pocket and not noticing that the only money we had to pay for groceries had also fallen out of my pocket.  I remember the tears when I told Sherry—there was no credit card—no cookie jar to rob—nothing! Three children!

And God!   That night at a small gathering in our home, some very intuitive friend left $20 on the mantelpiece—just to help out!  And so we ate that week.

But that wasn’t the last time we just barely made it—not by a long shot!

The special ministry God gave us has had the same kinds of experiences.  There was the summer that I was in Russia in May with plans for Sherrylee and the kids to join me for the last six weeks of the summer after school was out.  One evening I had to call her from Russia and say:  if you and the kids come, the ministry will run out of money before the end of the summer!  You can’t come—and I’ll come home early to reduce expenses!  She still reminds me of how disappointed she was that summer—but the ministry made it through that financial desert over twenty years ago…and still exists today to do His Will.

But we have not continued with cash reserves, not with a big savings account, not with endowments or million dollar gifts—neither we nor the ministry

This summer has been a particularly difficult summer financially.  The discouragement and disappointment associated with harsh financial realities are very real!  But in this and every crisis I’ve ever been through, it seems that God has given us a special word to hold on to—often a verse, sometimes a song, this time a prayer.

Almost every day since late June as I’ve walked each morning, instead of “working” the problem, I’ve tried to focus on giving my worries to God.  And that’s nothing that all of you haven’t done too—but I find rehearsing my fears and asking for fixes—fast fixes, if possible—can begin to sound self-centered, maybe even self-serving—especially over a long period of time.  And pretty soon I find myself starting to pray for what I think is obviously needed—my answers—often money—and my mind wanders off into what I’m going to do about it when I get to the office.

And so early in this particular drought, I decided to go to the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they asked for his help with prayer.  Every walk since that day has begun with “Our Father, who art in heaven . . . .

Every word of that prayer has been growing in my heart, but the words that have taught me and comforted me the most this summer have been: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

I have longed for financial security.  I have carried the financial responsibility for a family and for a ministry for all of my adult life, and we have never been “secure.”  A big car repair bill, an unexpected illness, an accounting error, overestimating donations, underestimating travel expenses—whether personal or of the ministry, it’s been the same very tenuous financial string holding things together—or so I have felt in the past.

But what was I thinking?  Maybe I was trying to become the rich man who stored up so much wealth in his barns that he knew how all of his needs would be met for many years?  Maybe I was trying to be the man who wanted to finish his financial transactions and secure his business deal before he left to follow Jesus?

Jesus did not teach us to pray, “Give us today enough for at least a couple of years,” or “Give us today enough to weather any unexpected expenses.”

For forty years, the people of God gathered daily manna and daily meat. If they gathered more than a day’s worth, it would rot (Exodus 16).  I’m convinced that is how God often works!

I am not trusting God if I pray “Give us this day our daily bread” and then worry that I will never be able to retire or go on cruises or live comfortably until I’m 93.

I’m only trusting in God if I pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and then thank Him that I have had bread to eat at the end of that day.

He has promised no more—and no less!

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