The final installment of a series about the prayer song below, discussing line 4.
God is great, and God is good.
And we thank him for our food.
By his hands we all are fed.
Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen.Author: Anonymous
It’s funny that this is my last post before Christmas (unless I get an unexpected inspiration while on vacation to visit family in Wisconsin). “God is great and God is good” is not a Christmas song. And yet…maybe it’s message is all about the hope that Jesus brought to earth, the peace among men.
So let’s dive in with a question about line 4.
Do we need to ask God for food?
Let’s just be real. We have enough food in our house to last a month. Maybe more. You probably do too.
What’s the point in asking God for something we already have?
I have a feeling that people like me who ask this question, are the ones who most need to pray, “Give us food.”
We’ve been living with plenty for so long, that it doesn’t occur to us that there could come a time when we would not have ready access to food. Perhaps we forget that a fire could consume everything in our house at a moment’s notice. A disease could deprive us of our ability to eat. Economic or political changes could take away our ability to buy food. War could flatten everything we know in seconds.
Many people on the globe are living these exact scenarios. Just a year ago, the 17 hostages kidnapped in Haiti were freed after 62 days of food insecurity and malnutrition.
It is entirely possible that it could happen to us some day. The fact that we don’t expect it has nothing to do with whether or not it could happen.
What is “Daily Bread” Anyway?
I love this two-word phrase. I guess since it’s lifted right out of Jesus’ perfect prayer, I shouldn’t be surprised to find it life-giving.
There’s a lot of emphasis these days on “being present” and “living in the moment.” Jesus has had that covered for 2,000 years, with his instructions that we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
It seems that Jesus is saying, just ask me for what you need today. When tragedy strikes, Jesus says, “Ask God for what you need today. Not for all the days ahead.” Perhaps it is sickness, grief or unstoppable migraines. Jesus says, “Ask God only for what you need today. Not for all the days ahead.”
The prayer notably omits any clarifications. Jesus doesn’t say, “If you are facing tragedy, poverty, or war, pray for your daily bread.” He doesn’t say, “If you are well-to-do, pray that your blessings won’t be taken away.”
Nope. Everyone is asked to pray, “Give us our daily bread.”
We all live in an uncertain world. We are all supposed to ask God to sustain us through THIS day.
Why This Line Perfectly Positions Us For Sharing our Tables
Last week, I told you I wanted to share some tips I’ve discovered for hospitality to a wide variety of people. These tips fit perfectly in today’s post, because asking God for daily bread is a great tip to start with.
Tip 1: Ask God for daily food, knowing what you have could be gone at any moment.
If I am asking God for daily sustenance, I won’t feel superior to others just because my freezer is full. If I really live in the attitude that my possessions could be gone at any time, I’ll be more grateful than ever for them, and more willing to share my abundance.
Tip 2: Cut the New England snobbery
So I manage to internalize Tip 1. I know my pantry is from God and I want to share it while I have opportunity. But I haven’t mended my daughter’s torn jacket, and it’s sitting on top of the roll top desk. There are books scattered on the floor and laundry scattered in the bathroom. Worst of all, what would I make? I don’t have time to make a cheesecake and the grocery store was out of the chicken I wanted to buy.
I think of New England about every time this comes up. Debra from Inferno in the Lost Pines says she was raised in New England where panic swept through the house if someone knocked unexpected. Everyone in the family peered through the glass to see who in the world dared to come without a warning phone call.
Now, let me be clear. I haven’t gotten rid of this yet. My grandmother would set her dinner table several days before the meal and apologize for the quality of the food several days after the meal. I have her blood in my veins. I’m not to where I can say, “It’s fine, I don’t care what they think.”
But I am trying. And I’ve concluded that the only way to be comfortable hosting guests often is to narrow the margin between hosting and normal life. If I’m not going to invite guests unless I clean the whole house and make cheesecake and grilled chicken, I’m not going to have many guests.
Tip 3: Don’t be discouraged by bad manners
So I master Tip 1 and Tip 2. I know what I have is from God and I want to share it. I have laundry on the couch, but that’s not the most important thing. My guests can help me move it.
I get out your phone and invite my neighbor for supper. They thank me and agree to come. I prepare burgers, counting out one or two for each person. I fire up the grill at just the right time so the meat will be piping hot when the guests arrive.
The hour rolls around and no one shows up. We gloomily eat the meal alone. At least I am glad that I didn’t make a four-course meal or wash the kitchen floor by hand to impress the guests.
What I consider bad manners are pretty standard in our neighborhood. I don’t really understand why someone would agree but then not show up. Or why they would show up and monopolize the conversation by complaining about all the people who have wronged them.
To me it seems rude. But I think for a lot of people, bad manners are driven by insecurity and fear.
The best thing I can suggest is to keep trying. There are so many people starved of community who I CAN GUARANTEE would love to sit at the dinner table with your family to share a pot of soup.
I remember the last time our friend Chris came before he died. We sat on the porch in the warm September night.
“You just don’t know how much of a blessing you are,” he said, breaking down.
But oddly, I felt that he was the one who added to our lives.
Give Us Lord Daily Peace and Goodwill
Christmas time is a great time to share food and fellowship. But let’s remember that the biggest needs might happen in January and February. When the grocery store no longer plays “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men” and the snow has turned to slush, sharing your daily bread will still be at its finest.