Everyone who is even slightly acquainted with me knows that if I had to choose one kind of food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be bread. (And if I was allowed, I’d throw in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.)
I try to believe it’s very spiritual, since it’s the only food group mentioned in the Last Supper. And it’s what churches all over the world eat to remember the Body of Christ.
But the truth is, my love for bread is much bigger than a piece of a Communion cracker or a nibble of crusty bread.
It is responsible for at least half the calories that equip me for the gym.
So today, I am happy to finish off the Lord’s Prayer beginning with the food I love. You may want to drop back here and read last weeks entry to get the full impact of where we are going: http://blog.lauriepolich.com/thy-will-be-done
Because we pick up the prayer half way through– with a line about my favorite food.
“Give us this day our daily bread”
For the record, if I was writing this prayer, I would have preferred it to say “Give us this day our yearly bread”. As a first born planner, that would have been a much more comfortable prayer for me. But Jesus includes THIS DAY and DAILY on purpose to emphasize the fact that we are only invited to ask for what we need today.
This isn’t a prayer for tomorrow’s bread. Or for more bread than we need. Shucks.
Furthermore, when we begin with “Give us” rather than “Give me,” it uncomfortably nudges us to consider if we might actually be part of the answer to this prayer. Could my extra bread for tomorrow be the bread someone else needs today? (She meekly writes).
Implicit in that consideration is whether or not I can actually trust that tomorrow’s bread will be re-supplied.
This line beckons us to live in the present. God lives there, and apparently He wants us to be there with Him.
He is after all, the great I AM.
So He doesn’t want to give us right now what we need for tomorrow. He’ll give us that when we need it. He wants us rest in what we are given for today.
Forgive us our Debts as we forgive our debtors
Let’s be clear that Jesus is not saying “Lord forgive us the way we have forgiven our debtors” as if our forgiveness is the well to draw from. Instead He’s telling us to draw from his well. A paraphrase might be: “Lord as we experience your forgiveness, let it spill over in the way we treat others.”
It’s the experience of grace that inspires us to extend grace. Some of us live (and forgive) as if grace runs on a point system “If you do this, you get this”, but as the prodigal discovered, that’s just not how God works. God’s love is free for the taking, kept only from those who keep themselves away. So this line says because it comes that way to us, it has to go that way through us.
Lead us not into temptation
At first glance this line puzzles us, as if we are pleading with God not to lead us into temptation. But John Stott helps us by giving a loose translation of what Jesus is actually praying:
“Lead is not into perils too great for us to bear.”
We all know temptation is permitted by God, because he does not take away our freedom of choice. So this is a prayer of stewardship- asking God to help us make good choices with the freedom we have.
Good things like food and wine and sex become temptations when we give them too much weight in our lives. We move from enjoying them, to needing them, which means we are asking more of them than they are designed to give. So we ask God to help us keep things in perspective- and not use them to fill a hole that only He can fill.
“Deliver us from evil” is what we pray when a temptation is pursued to the point of destruction.
Temptation is the co-worker who looks better than your spouse; Evil is the suffering your family endures as you pursue that co-worker, leaving them behind. Temptation is the internet sex site you stumble upon; Evil is the sex addiction that gulps you up as you return to that site- again and again.
There is a line between temptation and evil. The first still includes your freedom; the other takes your freedom away.
That is why evil needs to be battled by a force greater than us.
So here’s the big question after my last two blogs…What would the Lord’s prayer look like if we prayed it with words we understood?
Perhaps something like this:
Father of all, who sees more than we can see
You are God, and we are not.
May your presence be with us, so we want what you desire.
Make the stage here like it is in Heaven.
Give us only what we need today- so we will trust you tomorrow
Help us draw from your forgiveness so we can extend forgiveness to others
Guide us through temptation
And rescue us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory
Little did I understand the power of this memorized prayer.
Now if I could move from praying it, to living it.