A few posts back I wrote about the line: Give us this day our daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer and how it was, once again, challenging me. (In order for this to make sense, it might be worthwhile to go back and read that post.)
The other way this particular line of The Lord’s Prayer is once again striking me is in praying for what we need, not what we want each day. I think sometimes it is easy to blur the line between what it is that I actually need each day, and the things that are merely wants.
Am I selfishly and without thought spending the money we have on things that are completely unnecessary? How much is too much of a ‘necessary’ thing? Am I being a good steward of what God has blessed me with already? Am I squandering away the money that God has provided for us on extras?
On Saturday we were out with the boys and I was so tempted on so many occasions to buy a cute little this and a cool little that for the boys. It is so easy to justify purchases, especially when they are for others. But that is not good stewardship.
Take the very real example that is weighing heavily on my mind these days: We are in Aberdeen, SCOTLAND, so Jon can get his PhD! We do feel that we are where we are supposed to be at this time, but we are wrestling with whether or not we should stay here for a third year of studies come fall. There have been so many amazing financial gifts that have come to us at just the right times over the last two years. God is providing for us in amazing ways. But we are in debt. And we will (most likely) be much further in debt if we stay another year. So I struggle with deciphering whether a desire to stay another year is complete selfishness: a want, but not a need. That makes me wonder if perhaps it is inappropriate to pray that God would provide for such a thing.
(On the other hand, going home could be seen as being equally selfish as I have such a desire to have our boys grow up closer to family. And the blessing of knowing that we would have a cheap place to live in Canada accents my lack of faith and perhaps shows another level of selfishness.)
All that to say, in the end, I don’t know what to pray in this regard. Do I pray we are able to stay here in Scotland or do I pray we are able to go back to Canada? I really don’t know. So instead of praying for one or the other, I ask Him for wisdom and for unity of thought for me and Jon as we seek to do the best thing for our family.
Many years ago, we wanted to teach Elijah and Brady The Lord’s Prayer. We also wanted it to make some sense to them, so Jon made a kid-friendly version. We would say it together each night at bedtime and it went something like this:
Our Father in Heaven, Your name is great!
We want You to have Your way
On Earth just like in Heaven.
Please give us what we need each day;
Forgive all our bad things as we forgive each other.
Help us to do good; save us from evil.
For the world is Yours, and the power and the glory,
Forever and ever. Amen. So be it.
It was a nice way to finish off a day with the boys, praying the words that Jesus prayed.
A few months ago Jon began a series during our Sunday morning services at The Mission on The Lord’s Prayer. This time, he decided that instead of using his kid-friendly version (which he says he would change now anyway), he’d go back to the original (non-KJV) version. It was a 6 week series and each week the kids would review the part of the prayer that they had learned up to that point and then Jon would give a brief ‘lesson’ on that day’s section. It was a wonderful opportunity to study Scripture intergenerationally. (But that’s a bit off topic.)
So, anyway, the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about this special prayer and what I can learn from it afresh. The line that has been jumping out at me again and again is:
‘Give us this day our daily bread’ or in our kid-friendly version, ‘Give us what we need each day’.
I am reminded, once again, that what Jesus taught us to pray was not that God would provide what we need in the future, but what we need today.
What do we need today? Sometimes I think that what I need today is some assurance that God will provide for us tomorrow. But in truth, he’s already given me that, I am just good at forgetting it. If I am thinking clearly, I can look back on my life and see so many times when God provided (sometimes quite miraculously, I would say) for us. More times than that, I admit, I can look back and see times when I have worried and stressed and cried out to God, desperate for him to provide for tomorrow, unable to rest in the knowledge that God had provided in the past and would continue to take care of us each day.
At the moment, I find myself in that same place, restless and worried about our future finances. Do I think that things are going to change and that God is suddenly going to stop providing for us? No. But I worry that we are not being good stewards of what God has given us; I wonder if we are spending frivolously on extras we don’t need. And that doesn’t sit well with me.
Oh that I would truly live simply and with a thankful heart, fully aware of Who has given me everything I have, which is more than I need or deserve or ever imagined He would bless me with.