Years ago, Christina, my wife, and I were both working as youth pastors and in seminary at the same time. I was studying theology and she was studying counselling. And although we were both working at a church of more than 50,000 people, we weren’t bringing in $50,000 between the two of us! We couldn’t even afford to go out for lunch!
Oh, and Christina was pregnant with our first child.
No big deal, right? WRONG!
Try placing yourself in our shoes. If we were barely making ends meet before we got pregnant, how were we going to afford feeding, clothing, and raising another human? Never mind the doctor appointments and the hospital bills for delivery?!
And that’s if our baby was healthy. If our baby wasn’t healthy, then what?
It’s hard to explain exactly what we were feeling at that time. It wasn’t regret, nor was it embarrassment, or even a sense of being helpless. We weren’t angry or frustrated either, nor were we ashamed. We were just scared.
Have you ever been afraid of not having enough? Scared of not being able to provide for your family? Worried that you’re not pulling your weight as a husband? Fearful that you won’t be able to give your children the things that they want and need? Afraid of being labelled a failure?
Praying the Lord’s Prayer
One of the reasons that I love the Lord’s Prayer is because of how nuanced and multi-dimensional it is. If you read it in its entirety, you’ll notice that the first half is different than the second half, and that order is intentional.
The first half begins with worship as Jesus teaches us to look upward, “Our Father in Heaven, your name be honoured as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10 CSB). In the first half, we are declaring who and what are priority—in the universe and in our lives.
Then in the second half, Jesus teaches us that prayer moves inward, to our specific needs, and outward to the needs of those around us, “Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:11-13). If we get the order wrong, our needs and wants begin shaping our worship, rather than our worship shaping our needs and wants.
Now if you were to read the Lord’s Prayer line by line, you would notice something different. Let’s take verse 11 as an example, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). When Jesus taught his disciples to pray this line, what exactly was he teaching them?
Was he teaching them to trust God with the timing of their needs? Or the particular amount? Or maybe Jesus was teaching his disciples that their Heavenly Father was going to take care of both?
Obviously Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray this prayer regarding their actual, tangible, physical daily needs—like food and finances. But I believe that he also wanted them to pray this prayer regarding their actual, tangible, and physical daily fears too:
- The fear of not having enough
- The fear of not being able to provide
- The fear of failure
- The fear of the unknown
- The fear of not being in control
- And the fear of sickness
The next time you find yourself in need, in want, or just simply afraid, I want to challenge you to pray the Lord’s Prayer—and in particular, this line, “Give us today our daily bread.” Praying this prayer reminds us of who is in control and pushes to act on the our belief that it is God who supplies our needs.
Next time you feel afraid or insecure (and if you’re like me it may not be in the too distant future) pray this prayer with those fears in mind. In fact, why don’t you do that now and see what happens?