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The Prayer Request that Goes to War

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2023 12:00 am

The Prayer Request that Goes to War

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 21, 2023 12:00 am

We ask God about the big things in life and the small things. We pray about big topics—like the eternal nature of God’s coming kingdom—but also about the matters of life we often take for granted: where we live, what we drink, and what we eat. By modeling this attitude for us, Jesus teaches us that God is so intimately involved in our daily life that even something as seemingly insignificant as a loaf of bread is divinely provided for us by our loving God.

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This prayer admits dependency on your Father in heaven. You're in this also recognizing your dependency in the ability to have a job or to have strength to work or money to earn. He's asking us to acknowledge that we are this needy, we are this dependent on him.

You've got to shelve your arrogance to get on your knees and say, I am totally dependent on you for a piece of bread. When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he emphasized that you should talk to your Father God about the big things in life and the small things. You pray about big topics like the eternal nature of God's coming kingdom. But he also wants you to pray about the matters of life that you often take for granted, where you live, what you eat and drink. By modeling this attitude, Jesus teaches you that God is so intimately involved in your daily life that even something as seemingly insignificant as a loaf of bread is divinely provided by your loving God.

Here's Steven with more. One of the reasons I love to hear children, new believers pray is they pray with fresh simplicity. They haven't learned, you know, the formalities. I think we too quickly pick up on, they approach it as if it were a conversation.

The trouble is we outgrow that and probably too quickly. I remember discipling when I was in seminary, discipling a young man who had come to faith. He was in our church, my Sunday school class. And the first time I asked him to pray when we met together, he had never prayed out loud.

And a brand new believer and just prayed to receive Christ and that was it. And I said, you know, go ahead and pray. And he said, you know, I don't know how.

And I said, well, it's a conversation. And he said, okay, bowed his head and he said, dear Lord, this is Mike. And I thought, that's just great. That is just great.

I love that. My wife remembered that we were talking about praying prayer and she said she could remember her hearing a little boy praying, Lord, this is, this is Jeff, Sue's son, just in case the Lord didn't have it all figured out. Well, in our last study together, I told you about Martin Luther's personal friend and barber there in Wittenberg, Germany, a man named Peter. Peter had asked Luther to teach him how to pray and Luther wrote out a very simple lesson that would be published in 1535. I've read about it.

I decided to get my own copy. It arrived this week and it was interesting, this 1535 reprint, where in the introduction, and it's to his friend, he writes, dear Master Peter, listen to this humility. I will tell you as best I can what I do personally when I pray, but may the dear Lord grant to you and to everybody to do it better than me. If you have your copy of the New Testament, we're now in chapter 11 where the Lord is teaching the disciples a modern, a model prayer. In chapter 11 of Luke's Gospel, it's a prayer.

For them, it was very modern in that they had never heard this before. They had learned prayers as children, formal prayers that they would quote. They knew nothing of this kind of simplicity, intimacy, expectancy, and the Lord is giving them, as you've been with us perhaps, a prayer not so much to memorize as it was to model.

Here's the pattern. It began, as we've learned, with a family association. We approach the God of the universe as our Father and we can if his Son is our Messiah. So the prayer addresses the Father in heaven, Matthew adds. His name is to be hallowed, that is to be reverenced, and his will is to be honored. Now with that, we arrive today at verse 3 where the disciples are taught again, to pray with childlike simplicity.

Here it is, give us this day, give us each day, every day for the day, your translation may read, our daily bread. And let me tell you, beloved, this is a stunning shift in focus. All of a sudden, we're praying about dinner.

In fact, this can't be, can it? You go back in time and you read the early Church Fathers and you'll find Origen and Tertullian among those who did what many of them did and they said there's no way. So we've got to spiritualize this. And so they turned this bread, which would be too mundane if it was just bread, so they turned it into the bread that would be partaken of at communion.

This is that bread. We're sanctifying the Eucharist. I mean, there's no way you're going to be praying about the glory and transcendence of God and his attributes and the sacredness of his name and the sovereignty of his will and then shift and talk about lunch. But that's exactly what Jesus is doing, how he's teaching us to pray. And the key word is daily, the disciples' prayer here in Luke 11 and then the Lord teaches a larger audience, a little expanded version of the pattern of prayer in Matthew 6. They're the only two times in all of Scripture you read that word daily. Not at the table of the Eucharist, not at communion, but daily.

Daily bread represents just that. Now, I want to make some observations because it strikes me that we move oftentimes too quickly. And of course, if you've been around here for any length of time, you know that sometimes we'll slow down and sometimes we'll speed up and maybe handle the whole verse or something.

But I want to slow down here. This is something that we miss. This prayer as I thought about it and read about it and read other passages about it, it really engages us in war.

This prayer is doing battle in several, with several issues in our lives. And so I want to just layer out some of these. We don't have time for all of them.

You could add to the list. We'll have time for four. Let me show you where this prayer request for daily bread battles. Four issues in our daily lives. First, this prayer request for daily bread battles against anxiety.

This phrase is delivering a very simple yet profound principle. Trust God one day at a time. You know, one of the challenges in our own prayer lives is that we go to God and we want him to solve tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. This drives us back, which is to our help and benefit, to just today. One of the challenges in our prayer lives is that we wander into tomorrow. Give us this day our daily bread. What we need today battles anxiety. It's saying, Lord, I'm going to trust you for tomorrow.

I don't know what's there, but I'm going to depend on you today. Today. Luke's original construction where he uses a present imperative indicates to us that we are continually praying this prayer for the day today. Have you ever thought about the fact that the Lord's mercies are new every what?

Every morning. Every time I hear that, it always makes me sort of smile because it reminds me and that's because it runs out at the end of the day. And I'm going to need a new deposit the next day. And that's granted in his promise.

So I have been given as well as you a daily deposit. Not weekly, not biweekly, not monthly, not annually, but just enough for today. Enough mercy. Mercy is plural, which would indicate grace and wisdom and strength and whatever it is one day at a time, which is why Jesus, in his more expanded version out of the sermon which this prayer comes in Matthew 6, is preaching against worry. And that's in the context of this prayer. And it always interests me because he's telling us not to worry about tomorrow. And I often think Jesus had plenty to worry about tomorrow. He's saying, don't be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself. It's going to arrive.

And I love this. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Can you believe Jesus said that? Is that pessimistic? Every day is loaded with trouble.

No, it's realistic. Every day has trouble. Here's the point. Don't pull tomorrow's trouble into today's mercies. Nobody in this auditorium, no one in the Christian community, past, present or future, nobody is strong enough to live two days at a time. First one, this prayer battles anxiety. Secondly, this prayer request for daily bread battles against arrogance. Don't overlook that the Lord here is teaching us not to pray for something amazing. Pray for something great. Pray for something unbelievable, but something ordinary and basic like bread.

Now, this request certainly covers all of our daily needs. In fact, everything that we would need to survive. But I don't want to miss the fact that Jesus is not teaching his disciples to pray for everything they need to survive. He's not saying here, pray for daily bread and daily water.

You need water every day. He's not saying, now here's what I want you to pray. Pray for bread every day and water every day and shelter every day and clothing every day and protection every day and on and on and on and on.

No, just this. This is humbling. He's asking us to acknowledge that we are this needy. We are this dependent on him. We're just asking for a piece of bread. You've got to shelve your arrogance to get on your knees and say, I am totally dependent on you for a piece of bread. Now, during the lifetime of Jesus, bread was the common staple of life.

You couldn't get any more fundamentally basic. The Talmud, a Jewish commentary codifying life and law. In one reference, it talks of a poor man going home after work to eat his supper, which is a loaf of bread sprinkled with salt. A poor home would have some vegetables along with their bread usually made from bran, the cheapest flour of the day.

But even wealthier families during the Lord's Day ate breakfast soon after sunrise and it consisted of bread dipped in vinegar. I want to say, beloved, this prayer admits that we are this needy at this very basic level of life. We are trusting God, our provider. So, Lord, teach us to trust you, not for our greed, not for cake, but for our need, even a piece of bread. This leads me to another battle in our hearts addressed in this prayer request for daily bread, battles against independence. This prayer admits dependency on your Father in heaven and you're depending on him as the final end for provision.

You're in this also recognizing your dependency in the ability to have a job or to have strength to work or money to earn. He gave you that ability. He gave you that creativity.

He gave you that strength, not to mention the fact that you wouldn't have that loaf of bread without the farmer, without the rancher, without the mill worker, without the baker, without the scientist and engineer to develop food processes, without even the clerk who stocks the shelves where you might purchase it and the banker that manages the funds of that corporation and how about the trucker who is part of that supply chain. We got a taste of what it means to have that supply chain not working so well, right? We all ran out of paper towels.

How important were they? Bounty became true bounty, right? All of a sudden, we've moved from how did you find that car or how did you find that job or how did you find that house or how did you find that toilet paper? I got to get some.

Where did you get that? Life changed pretty quickly, didn't it? See, this prayer request erases any sense of proud individuality that you're just a self-made man. You don't need anybody. Oh, you can't even get a piece of bread without other people.

Then you get on a deeper level. You can't get a piece of bread without the providence of God. One author wrote, without the cooperation of the universe to produce that bread. And so, you're actually acknowledging that God, the creator built into his system that which produces the basic necessity of life. In fact, I came across several years ago a study that was done by an agricultural school, part of the university in Iowa and it reported after all of its research that to produce 100 bushels of corn from one acre of land, it required 6,000 pounds of oxygen, 5,000 pounds of carbon, 160 pounds of nitrogen, 125 pounds of potassium, 75 pounds of yellow sulfur, and a list of many other minerals and elements that are in the soil, too numerous for me to read. And of course, you have the additional ingredient of rain at the right time and in the right amount. So, although many of the farmer's labors were needed, it was estimated that he only contributed to 5% of the produce.

Now, he had to do 100% of his 5%. He had to plant the seed and harvest it. But yet, everything else was designed by the creator in the systems that literally are impacted by our solar system to get a piece of bread. Think about the right amounts of sun.

Just that one element is critical, of course, along with a thousand others. It's interesting, my wife and I have a little potted arrangement, flowers out on the patio and we've noticed that with the angle of the sun changing, with fall approaching, the sun isn't hitting that same spot and those flowers and plants in that container are bending and working their way around to see, as it were, the sun. Life on earth depends on what God has created. Just that one star is still a mystery to our scientific world. They have learned an awful lot about it and its staggering implications in our solar system. We know that one single flare from its surface that sends warmth our way, just one flare is equivalent to several nuclear bombs exploding on its surface at one time. Fortunately, the sun is 93 million miles away, just far enough to not fry us, close enough to warm us. And you read the Bible and you're going to read that it's going to continue until the very end of human history. So don't worry about it burning out or getting too close or, Frank, God has given his promises and in his creative order, it's going to be around until he's finished and he'll be ready to recreate a new one that will last forever.

But listen to one thing I read here because of this amazing start. Billions of nuclear bombs, so to speak, are exploding, essentially exploding on the surface of the sun every single second. In fact, comparative studies have shown to us that it would take Duke Energy, do you work for Duke? Is that a problem? Duke Energy, five million years to produce the energy the sun produces in one second and then it doesn't bill us.

And we're really glad for that. Now add to that the mystery of gravity. Again, the scientific community is still puzzled and will be because of its invisible property.

It keeps the soil, it keeps the seed at the right pressure just like our bodies and allows it to be pulled upward toward the sun. One unbelieving scientist wrote recently and I quote, there are so many mysteries in our universe we have yet to untangle and I couldn't help but chuckle at the prospect of it being untangled apart from the Lord. They go on to write, we cannot account today for the gravity in our galaxy or in the rest of the cosmos. We have no clue where the hidden matter holding it together, our cosmos together lies.

We do. In fact, Paul revealed to the Colossians about Christ the creator of all that is the creating agent of the triangle of God who spoke the word of God for by him all things were created and in him all things hold together. And there's coming a day when he's going to let loose and the very properties of the cosmos are designed if he lets loose to explode in a moment which will occur according to Peter and he'll recreate it new and eternal and we get to watch that creation. I don't have a verse on this one but we know that he's going to recreate it. There is a verse on that one and I happen to believe that we're going to be able to watch him go through the steps again of Genesis chapter one.

We get to watch it this time while the angels watched it the first time. Number four, this prayer request for daily bread battles against ingratitude. Praying this prayer is really an admission as simple as it is, Lord I'm going to be hungry today. I'm going to be hungry today. You created me to become hungry. Now this is where it's easy to start spiritualizing this text. Jesus calls himself the bread of life so what he's saying here is that we need him daily. Yes we do but that's not what he's talking about here.

Other passages do. This is a literal physical tangible prayer request for a literal physical tangible answer, bread because we're hungry. God made you to become hungry every day. Adam and Eve were hungry and eating before the fall into sin. God designed us to get hungry. In fact I'm getting hungry now. I've been talking about food all morning.

It's almost over. God didn't just design us to become hungry and to enjoy food which he created to enjoy. It is a gift but it is designed daily to remind us that daily we need to thank him for it, to go to him for it, to ask him for it. Every time we satisfy our hungry hunger we have every reason to thank him which is why faithful Jewish individuals would pray before and after a meal. Just imagine that the creator of the universe cares.

He cares about what you'll eat for lunch and he has created the universe to provide that biscuit, that piece of bread. William Barkley and I close with this in his commentary on this text recorded an event from the empire of Rome preceding the days of our Lord. A Roman emperor came back in triumph. He was marching his troops through the streets. The streets were lined with cheering people, citizens of that empire.

Soldiers had been stationed at the edges of the streets to keep the crowds back during this great celebration. At one spot along this route was a platform where the empress and her family were sitting to watch the emperor go by. On the platform with his mother was a little boy, their youngest son. As the emperor's chariot came near, the little fella jumped off the platform, wriggled through the crowd and tried to dart between the legs and one of the soldiers stationed there, the soldier was quicker than the boy and he scooped him up and he said, you can't do that son. Don't you know who that is in that chariot? That's the emperor.

You can't run out to his chariot. The little boy looked at him and smiled and announced he might be your emperor, but he is my father. Imagine this prayer is given to the children of the emperor, you. And you're invited into his presence for something as simple as a piece of bread.

And you're reminded that this is going to battle against arrogance and anxiety and independence and then gratitude as you recognize that for you to take that bite, the God of the universe moved heaven and earth to produce it. That was Stephen Davey and he called this message the prayer request that goes to war. One of Stephen's passions is training and equipping men and women for service to God. That's why he founded and serves as the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. Graduates of Shepherds Seminary are serving God in their churches and communities all over the world. You have many people who are earning degrees and others who just take a class or two. Classes are offered both online and in person.

The main campus is in North Carolina, but there are also teaching sites in Alabama, Georgia, Wyoming, and Texas. Learn more at wisdomonline.org. You'll continue through the disciples prayer next time. Join us then here on Wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-21 01:18:02 / 2023-04-21 01:26:32 / 9

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