Last Sunday I continued my sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. I reminded the congregation that Jesus’ disciples, after realizing how different his life was from their own, asked him to teach them to pray. He said that when you pray:
- Pray to the Intimate God who dwells in a realm you cannot really comprehend, let alone control. Don’t pray to a God made in your own image, but to the One God who is as close as your own DNA, but as unknowable as one who dwells in heavenly places.
- Enter into the presence of that One True God with worship because that aligns life as it should be, healing our narcissism, which makes us prone to believe that we can own and control even God.
- Remember that only from a place of humble worship can we authentically pray for God’s reign to come on earth as it is in heaven, and only then can you surrender your will to God’s will.
Then Jesus said to pray that God will “give us this day our daily bread.”
What does this mean in a low-carb, gluten-free world? To say that another way, what does it mean in a world in which most of us have to worry more about dieting than going hungry, more about finding room in our closet than having enough to wear?
After World War II, as people began to care for so many children orphaned by the war, they noticed that, even though the children had three meals a day, they still were restless and anxious and had difficulty sleeping. It seemed the children had great anxiety about whether or not they would have enough food the next day.
One relief worker came up with an interesting solution. Each night the nurses placed a single piece of bread in each child’s hand. The bread wasn’t meant to be eaten; it simply was intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep. Almost immediately, the children’s anxieties were calmed, and they were able to sleep.
That story captures the spirit of what Jesus was saying when he spoke to people who lived in an age and a land where poverty was their reality and daily hunger was an absolute possibility. Today, we are anxious about so much that this part of Jesus’ teaching about prayer is, perhaps, not so much a lesson about asking for the food we need, but an invitation to let go of some of our anxiety and live as those who have faith rather than as functional atheists.
Rev. Michael Piazza