We are in week two of our Thoughts & Prayers teaching series where, each week, we are walking through what is commonly referred to as The Lord’s Prayer.
For all of you who are able, would you please stand with me… all of us in the room, and everyone watching online, in your living room, at the beach, and our TV audience on Star64 and the WB… go ahead and stand right now.
Would all of you say out loud The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
You may be seated.
Raise your hand if you could say that without looking at the words on the screen?
Yeah, a lot of us were taught this prayer or heard this prayer, early on as we were growing up.
As a lot of you know, I didn’t grow up having a personal relationship with Jesus. But every once in a while, I would find myself at a church service. And sure enough, almost every time, at some point in the service or mass, I would get asked to stand up and everyone around me would start saying this prayer.
And as a kid, I made two observations…
The first observation I made as a kid… God must have grown up in the inner city like me. Because all throughout my neighborhood growing up, there were signs on people’s houses or backyard fences. No trespassing. Trespassers will be shot.
So, God must have had a soft spot for people who got shot at while trespassing on someone else’s property.
The second observation I made as a kid, probably around four or five years old… I always thought Hallow was a weird name for God.
Hallowed be thy name.
I figured God’s name would be like some of the other big Bible names like, Samson, or Goliath, or Abraham, or Charlton Heston…
Hallow… just seemed weird. Obviously, later in life, I realized Hallow was not God’s name.
But, if I’m going to be completely honest, later in life… growing up as an outside observer of Christians and the church…a lot of my interactions with the church, as a young adult, left me believing many of them were in fact hollow.
Unfortunately for me, as a young adult, I was never introduced to a church like Whitewater, or RiverTree, or White Oak. My observations of Christians and their prayers was they were actually pretty, well… hollow. Kind of empty, not very relevant, and not a lot of substance.
I watched The Lord’s Prayer get memorized so you could stand and say it once a week on a day people dressed up and acted differently than the other six days of the week. Or, I watched The Lord’s Prayer get memorized so you could kneel and say it in a locker room together with your football team before taking the field… then our coach yelling, "Now get out there and bash their teeth in."
It wasn’t until I was 28 years old that someone invited me into their life and started to teach me what it actually looked like to pray to a God who loves me and wants to be in a relationship with me. It wasn’t till then, that I was taught how to pray The Lord’s Prayer in a way that didn’t feel hollow. From a disciple of Jesus who didn’t act and pray one way on Sunday, but then act a different way the rest of their life. I was taught to understand this prayer in a way that made sense to me and had depth.
Matthew 6:9-13, “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today all that we need…And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us give in to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
Our hope is throughout this teaching series, whether you’ve been going to church for 80 years or 18 minutes, you will be equipped and empowered to go to a deeper level of understanding the power, provision, and protection that is at the heart of The Lord’s Prayer.
We also want you to understand this same power, provision, and protection is available to you every single day as a follower of Jesus as we strive to bring heaven to earth in every sphere of influence we have.
Because here’s a more recent observation I’ve made about Christians and the Western church over the last several years as a pastor…
Our thoughts and prayers don’t always carry the power and weight they should.
Our thoughts and prayers don’t always come with protection and provision for those who are lost, broken, and hurting.
Our thoughts and prayers don’t always come with action or resolve to bring heaven to earth… to make down here look like up there.
Too often, our thoughts and prayers… are fleeting.
Too often, our thoughts and prayers… are comfortable and convenient.
Too often, our thoughts and prayers… are hollow.
See, I don’t know about you but I want to pray dangerous prayers. I want us to pray bold prayers of healing and breakthrough. I want us to pray legacy prayers that transform the lives of our children’s children.
When we pray, I want us to know we’re communicating to a living God who has the power to move mountains. To a living God who is in the midst of performing a miracle in your life. To a living God who is making a way for you in the face of an enemy that is saying, "No way."
This is who we’re praying to. Abba… Father… Yahweh… Jehovah Jireh…
We’re praying to an almighty Father who will never leave you or abandon you. An almighty Father who will strengthen you, and help you, and hold you up in the midst of adversity and persecution with His victorious right hand!
So, when we pray, let’s pray like this…
Father, YOU are HOLY. I am not. I need more of you. And less of me.
Help me bring heaven to earth… in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships, and in my community.
Father, give me today, all that I need.
This is where I want us to focus today… Father, give us today our daily bread.
I hope by now, at this point, you know this part of The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of provision, and not a prayer asking for more breadsticks and buttered biscuits. As much as I love me some biscuits and breadsticks, that is not the daily bread Jesus is referring to.
Side note, if you ever want to know what heaven tastes like, have Loretta Adkins make you her homemade buttered cheese biscuits. Oh my goodness. You’ll die happy. Jesus take me now. It’s not gonna get any better.
Give us today our daily bread.
When the first-century audience heard Jesus’ teaching on how to pray and they heard this “Give us today our daily bread”… They would have immediately recalled their ancestors, hundreds of years before, being wholly dependent upon God to supply a daily amount of sustenance to the Israelites.
A little back story for those who may not know it…
There was a season of their lives, that the Israelites were on the verge of starvation with no food in sight. Moses, the leader of the nation of Israel, was leading God’s people out of Egypt and taking them to a land promised to them by God known as Canaan, which is now known as Israel. During this journey, the nation of Israel began to starve, so God provided them a daily amount of food to survive. This food was called manna, or "bread of heaven." And every morning, they’d get out of their tents, and sure enough, there was fresh manna waiting for them each day.
God instructed His people only to gather what they needed for one day. God was teaching them to rely on Him and only Him to supply all of their daily needs.
I love the correlation here between what God instructed the nation of Israel 1,000s of years ago and how Jesus is instructing all of us to pray, here in The Lord’s Prayer.
Will you trust in God, your ultimate provider, for all you need each day?
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, that is also connected to our next teaching series called “For Today." One of the secrets to de-stressing your life is found in living one day at a time.
God will give you all you need… for today. Give us this day, our daily bread. His mercies are new each morning. All throughout Jesus’ teachings, we see a reoccurring theme… one day at a time.
We start getting into trouble the moment we start trying to control or predict what is or isn’t going to happen… tomorrow.
God is our ultimate provider for today. Are we wholly dependent upon Him? Do we have a HOLY dependence? Do we believe God is a good and faithful provider?
I’m worried some folks give more money and spend more time talking to their cell phone provider than they do talking to their Almighty Provider, the provider of ALL things. In a culture of excess and abundance, the culture we live in, there’s a tendency to lose sight of who our provider is. In a culture of excess and abundance, we very easily can come to expect things.
And sometimes… I, never any of you… can become entitled. And consequently, I/we can, if we’re not careful, become ungrateful.
We expect when we order three 3-ways at Skyline, 90 seconds later, those delicious coneys will be handed to us, and we expect there will be plenty of crackers in that bag, too.
When I go to my Starbucks app and order my QUAD venti one pump white mocha, I expect the second I walk into my Starbucks, my QUAD venti Jesus juice will be sitting there waiting for me at just the right temperature ready for my enjoyment.
See, If I’m not careful, I can come to expect all of my wants and desires will be met in a timely manner without causing any interruption to my plan, my schedule, my routine, my budget, and my way of living.
I’m confident I’m the only one who has ever slipped into this mindset. And since I’m the only one, let me then offer some advice from watching this way of thinking crash and burn.
There will come a season of life, some of you have gone through this season, some of you are just coming out of it, and some of you are about to go in it…
But all of us will go through seasons of life where we will become utterly dependent on God. Where things will be completely out of our control. Where we will come to realize, in our desperation, in our brokenness, or in our humility, that we will realize how NOT in control we are.
And no amount of money, no title, no experience, degree, or business connections will be able to change that.
A failure with no recovery in sight.
Each of us will go through a season, sometimes many seasons, where we become acutely aware we are not the master of our own universe.
And it’s in these seasons that we need to desperately know who to turn to… to declare our dependence upon God. To pray for provision, to provide exactly what we need to sustain us through these seasons… one day at a time.
There’s a prayer found in Proverbs that parallels The Lord’s Prayer Jesus is teaching us in Matthew. It’s Proverbs 30:7-9, "O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me only my daily bread. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name."
If we’re being really honest, this is not a very “western” mindset or American prayer. This is the anti-pursuit of the American Dream. From a young age, we have been taught to get as much as we can, build bigger barns, stockpile reserves for a rainy day, hoard, keep up with the Jones’… in fact, destroy the Jones’… show them how powerful and mighty we are in our pursuit of wealth and prosperity.
Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me only my daily bread.
Only give me what you want for me.
Only give me what is necessary to fulfill the calling in my life.
Only give me what I can handle.
This is a powerful and dangerous prayer all of us should memorize and remind ourselves of daily.
Don’t let me get to the place where I have too much and I start to think I don’t have a need for God. How quickly can we fall into that trap if we find ourselves in a season of plenty? In a season of abundance.
How quickly can we forget from whom all blessings flow? How quickly can we kind of re-prioritize things and de-value the priority of God in our lives?
We live in the land of the free, the culture of plenty and abundance. How easy is it to slip into forgetting who really provides for all of our needs?
God, don’t ever let us become deceived into thinking we don’t need you… every single day.
Give us today… our daily bread.
In a culture of abundance, I’m trying to teach our kids right now the principles of being content and grateful for all we DO have instead of focusing on all we don’t have. My self-assessment is that both as a teacher and modeling what I teach I’m getting a C+ at best right now.
What’s going on in Afghanistan right now is heartbreaking, to say the least. It’s offering a powerful teaching moment for all of us, including our kids. If we’re able to put politics aside for a moment. I know how hard that is for some of you… I see your Facebook posts.
I’m concerned there may be a disconnect between the words of love shared and the prayers of unity prayed here on Sunday and the divisive, hate-filled social media posts made throughout the week.
So, please, in the name of Jesus Christ, stop being divisive. I implore you to pray for forgiveness. Speak life. Promote unity. Submit to the authority of the Holy Spirit and love your neighbor as yourself.
Politics aside, I’m talking to my kids about the lengths a parent would go to, to make sure their child would have a future.
This past week, the world was overwhelmed with images coming out of the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan.
Children and babies being passed over barbed wire walls.
Children being cared for by US and United Nations soldiers.
In an interview with USA TODAY, Farhad Ansari, a native of Afghanistan, called the evacuation efforts in Kabul a "surreal, heartbreaking scene."
"We've all seen the photo of that baby, what we have to understand is how desperate a parent must be to hand their child over to a U.S. soldier, a complete stranger… It's terrifying, seeing my people so utterly scared of what's to come from the Taliban."
What lengths would you go to make sure your child’s future was secure? Is there anything you wouldn’t do to provide your child with everything they needed to survive?
How much more does our Heavenly Father care for all of our needs? How much more does our Heavenly Father provide everything we need to survive?
As I was reflecting on what is going on in Afghanistan, I came across a story of medical missionaries caring for orphans after the Korean War. After the Korean War ended, South Korea was left with a large number of children who had been orphaned by the war. One of the missionaries, a nurse, who was involved with caring for these orphans, shared her experiences.
She wrote this, “Even though the children had three meals a day provided for them, they were anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping. As we talked to the children, we soon discovered that the children had great anxiety about whether they would have food the next day. To help resolve this problem, we decided that each night when the children were put to bed, the nurses would place a single piece of bread in each child's hand. The bread wasn't intended to be eaten; it was simply intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep. It was a "security blanket" for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs. Sure enough, the bread calmed the children's anxieties and helped them sleep.”
I don’t know what you are walking through right now. I don’t what you’re about to walk through.
But I do know this… we have a Father who loves us. Who provides for us. Who will give us what we need each day. Who invites us into daily communion with Him. To help calm our worries and remind us HE will provide for our needs.
Our God, like that soldier in Afghanistan, will lift us up out of whatever hell we may find ourselves in with His victorious right hand. We can find strength and comfort in the providing hand of our Father in Heaven.
With The Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaches us to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us one day at a time.
We’re not given a license to ask for excess and abundance so we can build our own kingdoms. But we are encouraged to come to our Father in prayer, to make our needs known to Him, trusting He will provide.
So here's your next step for this week. Last week David had you pray The Lord's Prayer every day. This week we are going to give you something tangible to take home with you.
We have a deck of cards for you, and no, this isn't for you to practice Texas hold ‘em so you can run to the casino. But if you do, I’ll be looking for a tithe from your winnings!
We are giving away one deck of cards per family. We had these cards made specifically for you, for this teaching series.
Sometimes it feels like we're just dealt a hand we have no control over. Some of you may feel like you’re sitting there with a straight flush, but some of you may feel like you're about to lose your shirt because you've been dealt one bad hand after another.
But the way to start fighting back against the hand the world has dealt you is through prayer.
So, here’s the deal, we want you to deal yourself a hand of prayer every day this week. You can deal yourself five cards a day, three cards a day, one card, that’s up to you. But deal yourself a hand every day. And read the scripture and follow the prompt.
Commit every day to have a conversation with our Heavenly Father and see how God shows up and shows off in your life through the power of prayer.