Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lord's Prayer: Fourth Petition

Give us this day our daily bread.

Hundreds of millions of people pray the Lord’s Prayer today. Tens of millions will pray it tomorrow. We all say it.

We all say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Millions of people say this and yet there are still hungry people. There are people who do not have enough. People who are unable to make ends meet. People who will go to bed tonight with growling stomachs. Children who will go without eating because they depend on the school lunch program for a meal each day and now it’s summer.

Most of us have enough. In fact, most of us have more than enough. And most of us are not hungry right now, unless we happened to skip breakfast today.

And yet we pray, Give us this day our daily bread.

We pray it and we pray in concert with all people around the world. It is not Give me or Give my family. It is Give us. We are praying with people who believe like us, who are living faithfully in God’s promises… we are praying with people who believe like us on behalf of everyone.
To pray for daily bread for all people and to expect the fulfillment of that petition is to take seriously three things.

1.    That you were serious about the 2nd and 3rd petitions (Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven).
2.     That you understand that God has not predestined some people for suffering.
3.    That you believe everything any of us have is a gift from God.
These three things, along with the Holy Spirit, combine to create a different kind of hunger than one for food. In Matthew, Jesus teaches this prayer in the context of the Sermon on the Mount- a long set of lessons about how to live faithfully. Hunger is mentioned more specifically in the Beatitudes- the series of specific instructions for holy living- living into Thy kingdom come…
Here Jesus says, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.
God does not desire that anyone should be hunger- should have that feeling of hollow emptiness- should want for anything. Therefore, those who have enough, who have more than enough, should be hungering to share, hungering to improve the circumstances of those around them, hungering for justice for all people, hungering that no one should feel separated from God because of essentials they do not have.
Give us this day our daily bread is not an empty prayer. Or it shouldn’t be. With so many people praying it and expecting that Jesus would not have us pray falsely or without hope of answer, we have to seriously ask ourselves what gets in the way of this prayer being answered.
Those of us with enough to eat who will not be hungry for long today, if at all, are called (called!) to specifically hunger and thirst, to crave, something better. And in that craving, we are supposed to be moved to be a part of how God answers that prayer.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Everyone hungers until all are fed.
If we dare to ask for it, we must dare to act on it. Amen.  

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