Lord, Teach Us To Pray: The Art of Humility

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Give us day by day our daily bread.

Luke 11:3

There are no self-made men (or women). I hope this offends you. That it upsets the balance and of the carefully thought out Western world view that some people win or lose by the grit of their teeth and pulling up their bootstraps. That “happiness comes from within.”

But I hope this proverbial pebble in your shoe causes irritation to stop and seriously ponder these words of Jesus. This is how He taught us to pray. This is the intercession of fragile man to almighty God: “Give us, each day, our daily bread.”

Jesus wants us to recognize a few profound things in prayer about ourselves and about our God.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

I love bread. Really, I love that bread is a delivery vehicle for other food items: pita for hummus and gyros, sticky-sweet danishes and cinnamon rolls, pizza (which is a food group in and of itself).

Our friends in the Ancient Near East loved that spongy stuff too, but it meant something more to them. Bread was the main staple; it was filled with nutrients to get one through the day. (And they had to make it themselves, often starting with the milling process so they could have the flour to make the dough.)

Every day, someone had to go through the process of mixing, kneading, and baking… daily bread.

To petition God for “daily bread” is the equivalent of “please let me eat enough to get through day.” (Because without adequate nutrition, we humans have a tendency to die.)

Jesus wants us to remember that our Father is God and we are not. That He is the creator, originator, and sustainer of life, and we are not. There are no self-made men – only men created and sustained by a gracious and almighty God who knows that we need food and water and oxygen and shelter to survive.

He knows we need it and He wants to give it to us… but He loves it when we ask Him. Our Father loves to give us good things.

Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11

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This prayer of asking for God to supply our daily need that sustains our lives is a throwback to the days of ancient Israel. Maybe you remember the story when it rained, not pennies from heaven, but manna?

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:4-5

When the children of Israel started to complain about hunger, God met them in the desert and supplied their need in a radical way by literally raining down bread. He made it rain exactly as much bread as they needed each day – no leftovers (with a caveat for the Sabbath).

Praying for “daily bread” in this way connects us to the promises that God extended to Israel, and by proxy, to us. He promised to lead them, to sustain them, to lead them into the promised land, and to bring forth Messiah from them. Everything that He spoke came to pass, and we can look to our daily provision as proofs of His promises. Our daily bread is proof He is faithful. Even when we are not.

And knowing where we came from and what our bodies (and souls) need allow us to fully relish in His grace.

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

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And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

Jesus identifies Himself as the bread of life. He knows that physical hunger is a shadow of what we truly long for: spiritual intimacy and abundance of life. So our “daily bread” becomes more than just surviving – Jesus means for us to thrive.

Always chasing the high of the next thing that we think will make our souls content, Jesus offers Himself as the sustenance our souls were made for. This falls in line with knowing who God is as Father, Creator, Originator, Sustainer, and King as well as His kingdom priority.

As Creator, He creates a desire within us for love and joy and contentment and then offers Himself as the complete fulfillment. Everything our body needs, everything our hearts need, and everything our spirits need He meets because He delights to do so. It causes us to love Him and pursue the knowledge of Him, and therefore obey Him joyfully… which produces life abundant. It’s a marvelous cycle of life, really.

And it starts with Bread for life.

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All you great men of power, you who boast of your feats – Politicians and entrepreneurs. Can you safeguard your breath in the night while you sleep? Keep your heart beating steady and sure? As you lie in your bed, does the thought haunt your head That you’re really, rather small? If there’s one thing I know in this life: we are beggars all.All you champions of science and rulers of men,
Can you summon the sun from its sleep?
Does the earth seek your counsel on how fast to spin?
Can you shut up the gates of the deep?
Don’t you know that all things hang, as if by a string,
O’er the darkness – poised to fall?
If there’s one thing I know in this life: we are beggars all.

All you big shots that swagger and stride with conceit,
Did you devise how your frame would be formed?
If you’d be raised in a palace, or live out in the streets,
Did you choose the place or the hour you’d be born?
Tell me what can you claim? Not a thing – not your name!
Tell me if you can recall just one thing,
That’s not a gift in this life?

Can you hear what’s been said?
Can you see now that everything’s grace after all?
If there’s one thing I know in this life: we are beggars all.

Thrice, “Beggars”

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