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Prayer Part 2 of 4

 

This is the second of four weeks the narrative lectionary is focusing on the Lord's Prayer as found in Luke 11:2-4.  This week we are focusing on the second section:

"Give us this day our daily bread."

At the time and place that Jesus said this, bread was the center of every meal.  To his people, it had a long history of being a symbol for God's provision.  It was often used to refer to any meal or food, and in this case Jesus expands it to represent all of our needs.  

A long time ago, in a place that had been ravaged with war, orphanages were overwhelmed with children.  In one of the facilities, the relief workers noted that the children had trouble falling asleep each night.  They struggled with anxiety, wondering if they would have food for the next day.  Their lack of sleep led to more anxiety and a troubling downward spiral of their mental and physical health.  In an effort to meet their needs the workers tried something new one night.  As they tucked each child into bed they placed a piece of bread in the child's hand.  They were full, the bread was not needed.  They were not meant to eat it, but to keep it, to know that provisions were sufficient.  That night and onward the children drifted off to sleep and their anxieties faded away.  

In modern foster care we often see similar patterns in the form of hoarding food, for kids who had to go without food in their home of origin.  A foster parents natural response is to lock the food up.  They often do room inspections and there are consequences if any food is found out of the kitchen.  As a foster care licensing worker, it was my job to teach the foster parents that this was a self sabotaging response.  This would only increase anxiety.  Instead we taught them to get a lockbox for the children.  After shopping, the child was allowed to pick their favorite foods and put them in their lockbox.  They could keep their food safe, and know that they had provisions for the next day.  

Jesus knows how important tomorrow is to us.  He knows that we struggle with fear and anxiety when we don't know where our next meal is coming from, or how we will pay the light bill the next day.  Despite this knowledge he encouraged us to pray for today's bread.  In another teaching Jesus encouraged a large crowd "today has enough to worry about!".  Jesus was teaching his disciples to focus on the moment.  

It is a difficult skill, and it requires regular practice, but it can be lifegiving when you can do it.  While we often worry about all kinds of things, most of the time, if we focus on what we need right now, we realize we already have enough.  Those children in the orphanage, they didn't need that bread...it was often crumbled and wasted in the morning.  The children in foster care didn't need those lock boxes, the food was already theirs.  Sit with yourself right now and really evaluate, what do you actually NEED right now?  If you have something, pray for it, but most of you will realize you need for nothing.  In that case, praise God!  The more you practice this, the easier it is to release that old crumbling bread you have been holding in your hand. 

Lord, help us to see your constant provision in our lives.  Help us to let go of "tomorrow's" bread.  Help us to be more comfortable in the moment.  Grow in us the muscle of living in the now.  Amen.

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