Up to this point I have written about 13 blogs which have been received with some enthusiasm but I’m sure with some criticism too. Who does this woman think she is, I bet she isn’t perfect, I bet she still succumbs to sin.
No I am not a size 10, no I haven’t got the perfected body or shape, no I’m not an athlete and I haven’t received fame or fortune.
I am not writing as an expert, I am not a nutritionist or a health guru, I am an ordinary person seeking to find God’s solution to living this life.
I am still a sinner I still need to daily walk hand and hand with my Father God, I am learning that when we make mistakes it isn’t a failing; this is the very place we need to be, the place of nurture, the place of discipline, the place of security is only found by being in the presence of our Father God, learning from the Father how to follow the Son and learning from the Son how to honour the Father.
Give us today our daily bread
This is a verse from the Lord’s Prayer which formed part of the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples during the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ to equip them for their future ministry and teach them how to live out the Christian life.
We too need these instructions today to help us to grow in our faith and be transformed into Jesus likeness, for our lives to reflect his desires, his purposes and for our attitudes to be in line with who He is.
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
If you have been brought up in a Church particularly the Church of England you will be familiar with this prayer. Many of us say it at least once a week but do we really pray this prayer in the way Jesus taught. Do we really understand the implications and benefits of this prayer?
When we really consider the Lord’s prayer we see it is not just a prayer it’s a pattern of living.
Verse 9 – Our Father in Heaven hallowed be your name.
As followers of Jesus we have the honour of calling God ‘Our Father’. This means he is not some imaginary figure who we wishfully pass our requests to, Jesus is reinforcing the relationship between us and God of a child responding to their Father.
The title Father provides us with a means of knowing who God is. Father represents the person who provides, who protects and who teaches. It also is a title of authority, there is no greater title than Father, he is the Head of the house therefore He is entitled to our respect and obedience.
‘Hallowed be your name’ represents our response to knowing God as Father. It teaches us what our heart attitude needs to be in response to understanding all that God has willingly done for us. The treasure of truth held in this one verse of the bible can take us a lifetime to unpick, maybe a lifetime to learn how to respond to God as Father and willingly respond to his authority in praise and worship.
But there is a warmth here, the respect shown is one from a grateful child, a child who recognises their need of the protection and love of the Father.
Verse 10 – your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
This verse teaches us that our desires need to be lined up with the way God has planned his creation. This is a place of submission and a demonstration of faith in God’s authority. This is in direct opposition of a selfish heart, a heart that demands its own way, a heart that insists that all things should be for its own benefit, a heart that seeks its own way.
To have a heart that desires God’s ways and a desire to submit to his authority is a heart that is willing to go where the Father leads, it is a heart that wants to serve a loving Father, it is a heart that trusts.
This verse also gives us a glimpse that the plans and purposes God has is far beyond our own understand, its implications are far reaching and reminds me of the descriptions given in Revelation where we are given a glimpse of the complexity of the heavens. We also learn how the angels respond to God in praise and worship. If the angels worship with all their hearts how much more should we.
Verse 11 – Give us today our daily bread
At face value this verse is really straight forward. ‘Please God provide what I need’, this varies depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in however, this isn’t the heart attitude that Jesus was teaching.
This verse demonstrates an attitude of recognition that all things come from God and that God willingly and lovingly provides. This causes our hearts to praise and thank Him for his provision, it also teaches our hearts not to demand what isn’t necessary for the day. In our society of more is better, excess has become a god, an idol. This prayer reminds us that God’s provision is a daily provision.
Verse 12 – And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors
Forgiveness is something we all desire but is something we find difficult to give or often refuse to give. This line of the prayer reminds us of our need to be forgiven, that we sin often and need to have a repentant heart that is ready to turn to the Father for forgiveness. Amazingly Jesus ties this in with our unwillingness to forgive others. When we fully grasp all that God has rescued us from and our daily need of his forgiveness then our hearts will be ready to offer the same to others.
Verse 13 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
Jesus knows our weaknesses, he is aware that as human beings we are vulnerable to temptations and makes provision for this in his prayer. We are not to give into temptation but recognise that our Father in Heaven is far more powerful than any temptation we will face. He also demonstrates to us that all temptations are from the devil himself. Here we are faced with a choice to seek God’s power to resist temptation or succumb to the devil’s schemes and follow his ways instead.
Jesus knows the power of temptation but he demonstrated that he has all authority and power over all things physical and spiritual.
There’s more to this than meets the eye
I am just scratching the surface of the power of Jesus’ prayer however you can see that Jesus teaching was for the benefit of the disciple, to equip them to follow Him, to demonstrate their vulnerability and need for guidance.
However, there is more to this prayer than the physical aspect of the daily walk with Jesus there is much to understand with regard to our spiritual life, a life to transform the hardened heart, a life to transform the double minded, a life to transform a selfish heart to a serving heart.
Jesus has expanded on these teachings in the parables in the gospels. He teaches us about the Father, his provision, his power and authority he also teaches us about the consequences of our response to him.
Jesus also tells us in his word that we are no longer just flesh and blood but now we are spirit too. When we give our lives to Jesus we are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, this is the moment we are born again.
In all of Jesus teaching there are not just physical truths for us to understand but a spiritual life to learn about too. In our human physical life, we are spiritually blind, we find it difficult to see anything beyond ourselves and our own experiences. However, when Jesus removes the scales from our eyes we begin to learn of spiritual things, things that were previously beyond our understanding.
The Lord’s prayer isn’t just a guide for our physical life but for our spiritual life too. It teaches us much about our Father in Heaven, a place we have no idea about but much to learn. Jesus teaches us of the spiritual battle that we have now entered, a battle that we can’t avoid but a battle that Jesus himself has already won.
It is a prayer that takes us beyond a physical hunger to a spiritual hunger, a hunger that can only be satisfied by the true bread of life.
Jesus is our daily bread
In John:35 Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life ‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’.
As someone who struggles to control the amount of food I eat and seek the satisfaction that food brings, I love the way God uses food as a metaphor, it puts me at an advantage because no one needs to explain to me what Jesus means when he describes himself as the bread of life.
Those of you who share this struggle, really know what it feels like to hunger for food, those feelings of determination to have our hunger abated, nothing stops us from raiding the fridge when the stomach rumbles, there is no thought for anything else until we find the satisfaction we gain from food, we don’t stop to think whether we are hungry or not, our priority is to find the food, find the snack, find the satisfaction.
However physical food has its limitations, its purpose is only to feed the physical it has no power to feed our spiritual lives in fact too much physical food is bad for us, it poisons us and makes us unhealthy, it limits our ability to function.
Through God’s word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit we learn that our need of spiritual nurturing and feeding is essential for our spiritual growth just as eating healthy food is essential to meet our physical needs. Jesus is interested in us as a complete package, he makes provision for both our physical wellbeing and our spiritual wellbeing we need to offer him both aspects of our lives. We are not to keep anything from Him if we want to flourish and grow into his likeness.
It is vital for our spiritual health to hunger for God’s word daily, without it our faith will wither and die.
Imagine what would happen if we transferred these desires, these determinations, these pursuits of satisfaction from food to Jesus and his word.
Imagine the wonders we would uncover, the guidance we would receive, words that would, heal us, sustain us and change us.
The very transforming power of Almighty God……just imagine!