Monday, May 19, 2014

The Pattern of Prayer - Stewardship

We are now shifting in this Model Prayer from acknowledging God to specific needs. We need to focus on God before we pray. When we come to Him with our requests, we need to seek out His priorities. Jesus taught, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you." Matthew 6:33, HCSB. Consider this - if God gave us what we asked, would it glorify His name, advance His kingdom and accomplish His will on earth? If not, why should we ask.

This phrase in the prayer we are looking at is "Give us today our daily bread." Matthew 6:11 (HCSB). The word bread in that culture referred to both food in general and to the loaves made from wheat or barley flour. Basically, it stands for all that is necessary to sustain life. We are the stewards of the daily supply that God provides. Let us muse over this phrase in the prayer.

First, consider "give." This reminds us that everything we need for life comes from the Hand of God. He gives according to His grace - James 1:17 (HCSB) - "Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning." That's what stewardship is all about. God is not obligated to give us anything. Yet, we see HIs grace in what He gives us, and how He gives it. If we stop to think for just a moment, to have a slice of bread it requires the cooperation of the whole universe. And that is under the controlling hand of God.

Too many people in churches today have become consumers and not stewards. Churches are looked at like "shopping malls," and we are "doing church" instead of worshipping God. The "Hey, what's in it for me" attitude has taken over the "How can I be like "Christ" attitude. If we are true to pur prayers, we will be stewards of God's grace, not greedy consumers.

Notice also, the two words us and our. We are joint stewards. The Model Prayer is a family prayer, and not a solo act. He also called it daily bread - to the Jewish mind of that day they would have recalled the account of Manna in the Scriptures. God provided daily exactly what each person needed to survive. The Manna sustained life. The Word of God sustains our spiritual life, and it is needful to be taken daily. Consider what Jesus taught in Matthew 4:4 (HCSB) - "But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” we are reminded in what Jesus is saying that God provides our daily sustenance both from our physical food and our spiritual food. And both are needed daily.

We need to remind ourselves over and over again that we are God's stewards, and our supply comes from the Grace of God, and will bountifully supply it.

Break Thou the Bread of Life*
Mary Artemesia Lathbury

Break Thou the Bread of Life,
Dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves
Beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page
I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee,
O Living Word.

Thou art the Bread of Life,
O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth
That saveth me;
Give me to eat and live
With Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth,
For Thou art Love.

Oh, send Thy Spirit, Lord,
Now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes,
And make me see;
Show me the truth concealed
Within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed
I see the Lord.

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord,
To me, to me,
As Thou didst bless the bread
By Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease,
All fetters fall,
And I shall find my peace,
My All in all.

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