Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More from the Pater Noster

In my previous post I started to look at the prayer Jesus taught his disciples as recorded in Matthew. I mentioned that the prayer has been viewed as a paradigm for other prayers. In its written form it appears to be what Richard Foster called a 'simple prayer.' That is, it contains the simple supplication of a person looking to have simple, basic needs met by God.
Today I want to look at this as it applies to the next phrase.

Today, give us the bread that we need.
 On the surface this appears to meet the criteria for 'simple prayer.' "O Lord, you know
that we have physical needs. Our very lives depend on the sustenance that comes from
your hand." As we reflect, though, we can see that there may be more to this. In John 6,
Jesus spoke about the manna that Israel ate while in the wilderness. He said, "I am the
bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the
bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living
bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This
bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:48-51, NIV). A
couple things jump out at me. First, Israel received manna for the present day. God
literally provided 'daily bread' for them. This bread from heaven kept them nourished as
the trekked through the wilderness. It was received by faith. There was no guarantee,
other than God's promise, that there would be manna in the morning. Every night they
went to bed hoping and trusting that when they awoke there would be God's provision.
The second thing is that Jesus saw himself taking the place of God's manna. He said,
"Hey, I AM the living bread! I AM the provision that brings and sustains life!" Like the
manna in the wilderness, Jesus also must be received in faith. We must 'partake' of this
living bread every day. What we received yesterday has passed into history. What we
may receive tomorrow is unknowable. "Today, Lord, we ask for the living Bread of life
that You provide. Today, Lord, give me Your body as true food that nourishes my soul."
 There is much that we can meditate on in this single phrase. Our dependence; our need
for trust and faith; the truth about what is nourishment and what is not are all worthy of
our time and reflection.
May God fill you from the bounty of heaven's storehouse.

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