Tim’s Daily Bread Devotional 5.16.21

By May 16, 2021Daily Bread

Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.

Today’s Scripture:

Matthew 6:7-13
Common English Bible

“When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask. Pray like this:

Our Father who is in heaven,

uphold the holiness of your name.

10 Bring in your kingdom

so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.

11 Give us the bread we need for today.

12 Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,

just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.

13 And don’t lead us into temptation,

but rescue us from the evil one.

Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today

Through my years of trying to live as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor, I have both asked and been asked the question, “What is the best way to pray?”  Quite some time ago I came to the conclusion that there are as many ways to pray as there are people and that there is no magic formula for prayer.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives his disciples some insights on how to pray and how not to pray.  He says, “When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard.  Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

Jesus seems to say to his disciples that less is more and he makes is clear that God knows what we need before we even ask anyway.

Prayer isn’t about saying the right words.  Rather, it is about going into a place (literal or metaphorical) where we are putting ourselves intentionally in the presence of God and opening ourselves to God’s presence and leading. In my mind that is how we are able to express what is going on with us in our lives, even when our feelings or experiences may be hard to put into words.

Jesus then gave them a prayer to use as a model that we now call The Lord’s Prayer.  In that model prayer, Jesus teaches his first disciples to pray with intimacy, trust, and expectation. These are the attitudes that Jesus advises his disciples to adopt as they learn to pray.

Jesus teaches them to speak to God as they would speak to a member of their own family, calling God ‘Abba, translated by the gospel writers into the Greek, pater, meaning “Father.”  But, Jesus’ Aramaic ‘Abba is a very intimate word; it is more akin to our word “Daddy”—the word a child uses to address his or her father.  God is like the most loving Parent we can imagine, and our relationship to God is childlike trust.  To pray in this way is to acknowledge that ultimately everything will be okay.  It reminds us that God cares for us as a loving parent for a child.

I think of these images:

A father carries his two-year-old daughter in a backpack seat over a mountain trail.  The way is steep in places.  The side of the trail drops off into a canyon.  Yet, she trusts completely in her daddy and even naps occasionally along the way.

A mother carries her small son into the ocean.  The waves lap against them—waves that would overcome the child on his own.  Yet, he laughs as they splash against him, content and safe in his mother’s arms.

A child falls asleep in the car on the way home from grandma and grandpa’s house.  When the family arrives at home, dad picks him up and carries him to the bed.  Mom gets the bed ready and tucks him in.  The child doesn’t worry about the sleeping or the waking because he knows he is in loving hands the whole way.

God is our ‘Abba—an expression of intimacy, familiarity, and trust.

Jesus’ model prayer also teaches the disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom of God.  “Your kingdom come” means “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”  You and I need a passion for the kingdom of God, the Realm of God, in our time—a passion for God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.  By teaching us to pray for the kingdom, Jesus surely expected us to work to make the kingdom present as well.

Even as we are asking God to make manifest the Kingdom in our community, God is showing us things that need to be done if this community is to resemble the Kingdom of God.  We are Christ’s hands, His feet, and His mouth in our world.  We are a primary way that God touches lives.  God is counting on us to be God’s people in the world.  When we pray this prayer, we place ourselves once again within God’s will.

God is not going to grant any request that doesn’t conform to the priorities of God’s divine will—God’s kingdom of love and peace and justice.

Of course, requests for bread and forgiveness and deliverance all fit with God’s desires for our physical health and spiritual well—being.

“Give us each day our daily bread” (v. 3) is a petition for the nourishment we need each day, and it reminds us that we are dependent on God for our most elemental requirements.

The challenge of this little petition in the prayer is twofold:  First, “bread” speaks of basic necessity, the bare minimum one needs in order to survive. Implied in this petition is a satisfaction with the mere basics of life, but, if truth be told, our satisfaction requires more than just bread.  Simplicity of life is not usually high on our list.

The other challenge is how does one pray for one’s own daily bread when there are so many others with no bread?  N.T. Wright is correct when he says, “It is impossible truly to pray for our daily bread, or for tomorrow’s bread today, without being horribly aware of the millions who didn’t have bread yesterday, don’t have any today, and in human terms are unlikely to have any tomorrow either” [in The Lord and His Prayer, p. 45]

Bread also symbolizes the stuff of life, that which satisfies our needs—both physical and spiritual.  This petition asks God for strength, courage, commitment, and other resources needed to make it through the day. This implies that prayer is to be a daily exercise.

We also need forgiveness, a gift that is as necessary to our well—being as basic food and water.  With the gift of forgiveness come release and renewal, inspiration and encouragement, assurance of pardon, and a deep sense of peace.

This forgiveness from God also gives us the ability to forgive those who have wronged us (v. 4). Our forgiveness and forgiving others are part of the same heavenly package. If we truly want God’s kingdom to come, we will want to show the same mercy to others that the Lord offers to us.

In the Lord’s Prayer forgiveness received is linked to forgiveness given.

I invite you to pray The Lord’s Prayer several times today, pausing to think more deeply about what each petition means:

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Trust and Obey”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Oh, Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

And ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, for grace to trust You more!

I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!

Grace and Peace,


Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor

Here’s more about this passage of scripture via Upper Room devotionals:

OUR PRAYER

The Lord’s Prayer is my call to action.

read more

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