My youngest daughter is learning the “Lord’s Prayer.” She walks around the house, prompted by her next sister in line, reciting the words to the familiar prayer that Jesus taught us to pray. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread … (Matthew 6:9-11).
What struck me today is the line “Give us today our daily bread.”
So often, I think of this line as a request to God to (please!) meet my needs. I know that the bread represents the necessities of life, not the luxuries. I try and attempt to honestly discern what the one is from the other. Not always easy, but I do try to do so.
In praying so, I ask the Lord to provide for my physical needs – food, clothing, a shelter to reside in. However, when I think about it, I know that I also have other needs – needs to be strong in the Lord, mighty for battle, filled with grace and filled with the Fruit of the Spirit. These, amongst others -- are my spiritual needs.
What would it look like if we were to pray with our “spiritual needs” in mind? What if we could sincerely say, “Lord, give me, today what I need to grow spiritually? Please give me this bread.” In fact, if we are lovers of the Lord, this is what we do desire – to grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus, and to become more like Him, and (I must admit, I wince here) to do so, no matter the cost.
Perhaps what we need to cultivate and grow our spiritual life is rest (and God will give this when needed), but more likely as the scriptures point out, it is in the trial that we grow.
The bread that we need may be a hard truth to discern, a frustration to be patient with or strife to be at peace with. It may be an opportunity to exercise wisdom, a hardship to endure, a heart ache to relinquish in to the hands of the Lord and thereby learn trust. It may be a betrayal, a disappointment, loneliness or rejection. The bread to nourish our souls may be an incorrigible person that needs to be cared about, an opportunity to learn how to draw a boundary in love, or harsh situation in which to learn gentleness. The bread may be found in opportunities in our churches, our homes, our prisons, our relationships, our loneliness, our anger, our sorrow and our fears.
The bread to nourish may be an unlikely, unwelcome and unappetizing “food” but it is often the thing that makes us grow, when given to us by the hand of God. I guess when I openly stop and think about it, these things are the source of nourishment that the Lord has used (and is using) to grow me day by day. Truthfully, some days I receive them graciously and other days I struggle to choke them down.
Dear reader, look to see what bread the Lord provides for you today to change and cultivate your soul. He will give you just what you need. Be strengthened in this. You are not alone in the process of growth. God is with you.