Sunday, October 14, 2012

How I Pray for My Family, Part 2

Part 2 of a Series

Today we continue looking at a truly meaningful, non-rote way to pray through the Lord's prayer for ourselves and our families.  (If you have not yet read Part 1 of this series, please do so now.  This entry is much better as part of a whole.)

Give us this day our daily bread.  As rich Westerners, we usually gloss over this part.  Of course we get our daily bread, plus snacks, desserts, sodas, and expensive designer-brand coffees for those who like coffee (that would not be me).  But as Chapell reminds us in Praying Backwards, Jesus explained and fulfilled (rather than discarding) the Old Testament, and so we need to look for the Old Testament idea of "daily bread" to get the full picture.  Of course there's the precious old account of the manna in the wilderness, and there's much to be learned from it.  But until we come to true material poverty, that won't be the kind of "daily bread" we're likely to focus on the most.  Instead, for our Old Testament model of praying for daily bread, we go to a wise man named Agur.  These are his words:

Proverbs 30 (ESV)
[7]  Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: 
[8]  Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 
[9]  lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. 

So the first part of praying for daily bread for each member of my family is to pray that we would not be given too much.  That we would not be rich in the world's goods and forget God.  Have you ever prayed that for your family?  I confess, I haven't, either.  I just remembered this aspect of the prayer while I was researching for this blog.  But I'll be adding it, I promise.  In fact, I just sat down with my list and added it, so I won't forget.  And as I pray it for each family member, I will remember specifically the things that each one may be lusting after, longing for, discontent without.  I will pray for each one to be content with what the Father gives them daily.

The second part of praying for our daily bread comes from Jesus' own words: 

John 4 (ESV)
[31]  Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 
[32]  But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 
[33]  So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 
[34]  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 

Have you ever really thought about that?  That wasn't just a "Jesus thing," you know.  Our souls, too, are nourished when we do God's will in God's way, as it's done in Heaven.  

And there's yet another angle to praying for our daily bread.  It comes from Jesus' mouth, again.  It's too long to post in its entirety here, so please look up the context and see it all in John 6:32-58.  I'll put just a little bit here:
John 6 (ESV)
[48]  I am the bread of life. 
[49]  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 
[57]  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 
[58]  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 

Jesus Himself is our daily bread!  He is the spiritual life that indwells us and empowers the only works that are acceptable to God.

So I think of each family member, and I pray that on this particular day we would each be given our work to do for His Kingdom (which may be very different from the work we had planned to do), and that we might also be given the gracious supply from Heaven to do that work and prosper in it.  I pray that we would abide in Jesus and receive from Him all that we need to accomplish His work acceptably, because if we do it in our flesh, it's not acceptable.  Also, what we do in our flesh is heavy work, but what we do by his Spirit is life-giving, because His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  

All this from "Give us this day our daily bread!"  How much we miss when we mechanically mouth words!

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  Oh, how many people we have wronged, and how many have wronged us!  I can easily think of examples for each family member.  So I pray daily that God would give us each tender hearts to forgive others, and that He would, in turn, forgive us.  And it just now dawned on me that I need to pray that each of us would have the courage and wisdom to seek restoration and make restitution where possible (see Matt 5:23-26).  I guess it's time to make another addition to my prayer list!

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  If we know Scripture, we know that God never tempts anyone to sin (James 1:13).  But when He taught us to pray this part of the Model Prayer, He knew that every situation He leads us into for our good is also misused by the Enemy in an attempt to seduce us away from God.  He also knew that our own tendency to sin would seduce us sometimes, and (like He did with Judas), He can use even our sin to accomplish His purposes (though never without cost to is NEVER acceptable to choose to sin in order to bring about good.  See Romans 3:5-8).  As I see it, this part of the Model Prayer is kind of the flip-side of "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."  God can use anything, but we want to be sure to offer Him obedience and righteousness, not messes, to use for His glory and His kingdom.  

Can't you think of a half-dozen situations for which you can pray this for yourself...your spouse...each child?

Can you see how, if you regularly prayed this way, it would dramatically change the way you feel about your own circumstances, about your family members' individual circumstances, about each person and their worth as you should esteem them, about God, and about the answers He gives?

God forbid that we should ever mindlessly parrot the "Lord's Prayer" in order to try to get something from God.  But may He also forbid that, out of our zeal to avoid such "vain repetition," we should refuse to obey our Lord who said, "Pray then like this..."

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