Lord's Prayer: Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

Preached: July 27, 2008

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Dear Father, You Provide All We Need for our Body and Life
Psalm 145:15, 16

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit points us to our Father's loving care is Psalm 145

The eyes of all hope in you and you give them their food at the right time. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:15, 16)

This is the Word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

“What is the world to me . . . ” we just sang, “ . . . With all its vaunted pleasure When you, and you alone, Lord Jesus, are my treasure!” (Christian Worship 477:1). Yet how much of our time, energy, wealth, and effort is devoted to this world?

If we added up the time we spent on earthly concerns in any given week -- the time sleeping, working, eating, relaxing, visiting, playing, driving, shopping, reading, watching TV, being entertained, and so on -- what percentage of our lives would that fill? Just those first two, sleeping and working, take over 50% of our lives. If an hour or so on Sunday morning is the only time during a week that a person takes his eyes off of his earthly concerns, then over 99% of that life is wrapped up in the world. And that's if they are here every week. And even if we carve out daily devotional time, prayer time, time to share God's truths with others in Christian love, even then well over 90% of our time would still be dealing with earthly concerns.

And you would find the same thing if you worked out the percentage of our money used for earthly things. On average people spend 97% to 98% on earthly concerns. Yet we sang, “What is the world to me!” Do you see an inconsistency?

On the other hand, no where does God tell us that we are to go off to some cave or mountain top and spend every waking moment in prayer and Scripture. No where does he promise to miraculous provide us with daily food, like he did for Israel in the desert, so that we can neglect our earthly needs. Rather he says, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV). Yes, he does want us to use a good portion of our time and money in providing for our body and life and carrying out our earthly responsibilities. Although we are no longer of the world, we are still in this world (John 17:14-19).

We don't become better Christians or more spiritual by playing games with percentages. In fact in Jesus' day, the ones who on average gave the highest percentage of their time and money to religious activities were the Pharisees, and many of them rejected Jesus and wanted to put an end to him.

Those words, “What is the world to me!” aren't about percentages but about attitude, about the condition inside our heart, soul, and mind. With our heart, soul, and mind in tune with God's Word, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to keep our earthly concerns in their proper place, so that they do not crowd out Jesus.

Now what is that attitude? It's the attitude Jesus teaches when he tells us to pray: “Give us today our daily bread.” It's the attitude reflected in the text from Psalm 145. It's the attitude shown in our theme: “Dear Father, you provide all we need for our body and life.” That attitude can be summarized with two words, both of which begin with the letter 'T.' See if you can figure them out as we continue here.

A. We look to you alone, O heavenly Father

1) What sinful attitudes fill our hearts when we are not looking to our heavenly Father alone?

Let's take a look at the Psalm. “The eyes of all hope in you” (Psalm 145:15) Or as some other translations express it: “The eyes of all look to you” (Psalm 145:15 NIV). Or “The eyes of all wait upon thee” (Psalm 145:15 KJV). Picture all creation from the tiny ant to the wallowing hippopotamus, from the great blue whale of the deep to the eagle soaring high, all creation looking upward, eyes focused on the Lord our God, lingering their gaze on him, waiting, longing, hoping with eager expectation.

But where are our eyes? Rather than looking upward, how often we look downward at what our own hands can do! How pride can blind us! Or rather than our eyes focused, waiting on the Lord, lingering on him, we keep glancing every which way. We look up at him for a bit, then down at our hands, then over there at what they have, then we glimpse at the horizon, fretting over what dangers or financial troubles could be coming. What kind of attitude is filling our heart in all that glancing around? Worry.

So without our eyes focused on the Lord, waiting on him, hoping in him, we fall either into the abyss of pride or the pit of worry. When we look downward at our hands, pride fills us, “Look at what I can accomplish. Look at how well I have provided for me and my family.” When our eyes flit around glancing every which way, then worry fills us, “Do I have enough? What if something bad happens? What's tomorrow going to bring.”

2) How does Jesus in the Lord's Prayer focus our eyes to look to our heavenly Father for all we need for our body and life?

Notice in the Lord's prayer where Jesus focuses our eyes. On our Father in heaven. Look to him alone. As we pray, “Give us today our daily bread,” Jesus lifts up our eyes from what our hands can do. He focuses us on the Giver, on our heavenly Father. We're focused on him, rather than on all the fleeting worries of this life. Our eyes linger and wait and hope in him for what we need today.

And that's another way Jesus keeps our eyes focused. He teaches us to pray for what we need today, without looking ahead in worry about tomorrow. “Give us today our daily bread.” Think of the Psalm again: “You give them their food at the proper time” (Psalm 145:16 NIV), at the right time, day-by-day.

So look up to your heavenly Father. Keep your eyes focused on him waiting in eager hope. For in the Lord's Prayer you are saying, “Dear Father, you provide all we need for our body and life, so I look to you alone.”

B. Your blessings overflow to us

1) What reminds us that our heavenly Father will take care of all we need for our body and life?

And that prayer will not be unanswered. For our Father's blessings overflow to us. Think about that word “bread” in the Lord's Prayer. Bread is the most basic and essential daily food. If our Father wants us to go to him in prayer even for this most basic need, he certainly wants us to go to him for all our other needs and desires. That word “bread” includes all that we need for body and life. His blessings overflow to us.

The Psalm describes his overflowing blessings this way:, “You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). Sometimes I tease our dog by putting a treat in my hand but then closing it. She can smell it there. She'll lick and nuzzle and even paw to try to get it. But she can't until I open my hand.

Your heavenly Father's hand is already wide open. What a picture of his generous abundance and bountiful goodness! Think of a cornucopia, a horn of plenty. It narrows to a close at one end, but the other, the wide end, overflows with all that is good. So also your heavenly Father's hands. Think of the list of things we confessed in the explanation of the 1st article of the Apostles' Creed: “clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land cattle and all I own, and all I need for my body and life.” Martin Luther included another such list in his explanation to the 4th Petition, which we'll read together after the sermon. How much our Father wants to bless you with! His blessings overflow.

2) What are we to do if his blessings do not seem to be enough?

But we don't always see it that way. Sometimes we feel that he hasn't given us enough, much less overflowing amounts. The problem isn't that he has closed his hand. The problem is that we have lost our focus. We're looking at what others seem to have, so envy, greed, and jealousy fill us.

Remember what we said in the first part? Look to your heavenly Father alone. Keep your eyes focused on him rather than on what others seem to have. Especially focus on the greatest gift he has given you. His own dear Son, sacrificed in your place, crucified to ransom and rescue you. If he has already opened his hand so wide to give you his dearest Treasure, isn't his hand open to provide you with all that you need for body and life? When we keep our focus on the cross, we know our Father's love will never fall short. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son” (John 3:16). Such rich love overflows in blessings for our body and life as well. So joyfully pray: “Dear Father, your provide all we need for our body and life.”

3)What are the two “T-words” for the attitude that brings us a proper perspective about earthly concerns?

So have you guessed the “T-words” for the attitude that brings us a proper perspective about earthly concerns? I haven't actually mentioned them, but you know them well and they sum up what we've been talking about. The first word is trust, trust in our heavenly Father. Trust is that attitude that looks up to our heavenly Father, letting our eyes linger and wait on the Lord in expectant hope. Trust doesn't worry about tomorrow, because it knows that our Father will give us each day our daily bread and whatever else we need. Trust knows that his hands are opened wide with overflowing blessings. Trust looks to the cross and believes that since God has so loved us, he will certainly take care of our bodily needs as well. Therefore, we can be content, trusting in him. Trust prays: “Dear Father, you, yes you, provide all I need for body and life, so I pray to you: Give us today our daily bread.”

And such trust gives thanks. That's the other T-word. Thanks. For as Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread,” he's teaching us to give thanks to our Father in heaven. It is he, not our hands, that has provided for us. Give him the thanks. It is he who opens his hands to shower his overflowing blessings on us. Give him the thanks. Lift up your eyes to him in thanksgiving as you pray: “Dear Father, you provide all, yes all, I need for body and life.”

And finally, with thankful trust filling our heart, soul, and mind, we can honestly sing, “What is the world to me!” For when thankful trust fills our hearts, we seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness in his Word. For we trust that all the other things will be added according to our Father's good will.

And even though as we place him first we still will be using the majority of our time and money on things connected with this life, there is a difference. For when trust and thanks fill us, then even the earthly things we do -- the eating and drinking and sleeping and working -- become offerings of thanksgiving to our heavenly Father as we do them to his glory. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17 NIV).

So pray these words of the Lord's Prayer, “Give us today our daily bread,” pray them with that trust that looks to our heavenly Father alone and with that thanks for his overflowing blessings. For with those words, you say, “Dear Father, you provide all we need for our body and life.” Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313