This simple blog is devoted to the greatest privilege that man has ever been given; PRAYER.
“Give us this day, our daily bread.” Notice that Jesus did not say, “Give us this day a Mercedes Benz.” He’s teaching us to pray about sustenance, not lavishness. If all God hears from you is “Give me this home,” “Give me this possession, job, power, social status, car, wardrobe, etc.,” you have missed the point of prayer. Does this mean that we must pray only about our needs? Are we not supposed to bring our desire before our heavenly Father? Of course we are! Psalm 37:4 says,
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Do you see the structure of this verse? It is built like an “if/then” statement: if you delight yourself in the Lord, then He will give you the desires of your heart. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, His agenda becomes our own. His priorities outrank ours. We determine importance according to His standard. A person who is delighted in the Lord may very well desire a house (or one of the other items I mentioned early). But he will pray, “Lord, give me this house so it can become your house. Meet my need so I can build your kingdom.” It is as though God is saying, “If you want My blessings so you can build a kingdom of your own, don’t expect much. I’m only interested in answering the prayers of people who say, ‘Thy kingdom come’ and mean business.”
There’s a great statement about which prayers the Father will and will not answer in Matthew 7:7-11:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; everyone who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
That is a very, very powerful verse of scripture because it simply says, “ask.” Asking is not a difficult thing to do. In fact, if you have children, you know that they are almost constantly in “asking” mode. When was the last time your child came to you and said, “Dad, Mom, what can I do for you today?” Well, God invites his children to be children. Ask, seek, knock. And if those statements are not staggering enough, notice to whom he delivers that invitation: everyone! The natural reaction at this point is, “Wait a minute! I’ve ben asking for years. I’ve been knocking longer than that. I’ve been seeking, and I haven’t found anything.” Sometimes, when our requests seemed to be met with silence instead of solutions, it appears as though this passage does not line up with real life.
Isn’t this a contradiction? Doesn’t this passage offer an open-ended promise of provision? Not, quite. That’s why reading the Bible in context is so important. You can do almost anything with a verse if you choose to ignore the rest of the story. Look again at verse 9 and pay special attention to the two comparisons: bread and fish to stone and snake. What is the point? Very simply, bread and fish are good for you; stone and snake are not. The earthly son has requested two good items, the earthly father responds accordingly. The reverse is also true. If an earthly son asked for a stone to eat, any loving father would refuse. (Everyone needs minerals in their diet, but this goes a bit to far!) To follow through with our analogy, God is not saying, “Ask for whatever you want.” Instead, He is saying, “Ask for what is good.” When you ask for good things, our heavenly Father will surely approve-and He would never substitute something harmful. If you have prayed for something you desire with all your heart and have not received it, it is because what you have asked for is either no good or not good for now. God is either saying, “no” or “wait.” You may say, “But wait a minute. My circumstances right now are miserable. Everything I touch is falling apart; my world is crumbling. I’ve been praying faithfully about it, and I’ve heard nothing! If God does not give His children stones or snakes, why doesn’t He act on my behalf!” Let me suggest that you read Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
If you love God from your gut; if you love him deep down where you live on the inside, then I have some good news for you. The mess you’re in today will become your trophies on your wall tomorrow. I watched my wife cook about 15 different dishes for the holidays, including desserts. (It tried all 15 of them!) When she is mixing the cake batter, it’s messy, gooey… and anything but appetizing. Then, the batter is poured into the pan and starts to take shape. But, it is still little more than a partially coagulated mess. Finally, it is put into the oven. Given enough time in that crucible of pain, anguish, and burning, a delicious cake will emerge.
If you love God, it doesn’t matter how hot the oven may be. When the allotted time is over, the same people who paid little attention to you while you were dough will wonder where this delectable pastry came from. Ask. Ask!! And you shall receive. Make sure that, to the best of your knowledge, what you’re asking for is good. If it is, you shall receive. That’s a promise!
How can you determine that your request qualifies for the “good” category? I suggest asking yourself two questions. First, is there anything in Scripture that justifies the request? For example, James 1:5 says,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Obviously, asking for Godly wisdom is a prayer that will surely be granted. But suppose that there is no direct biblical support for what you have requested. Let’s assume that we’re dealing with a desire instead of a need. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, it does bring us to our next question: “If God grants my request, what will He get out of it?” How will He be glorified and in what way will His kingdom be promoted if He does as you ask?
You may be familiar with LeTourneau College. LeTourneau College is named after R.G. Le Tourneau, who asked God to make him so prosperous that he could live on 10% of his income, and contribute the rest to the Lord’s work. (A sort of “reverse tithe!”) God not only answered his prayer, but also provided so abundantly that the remaining 10% made LeTourneau a millionaire. LeTourneau’s request was rooted in his desire to glorify God. King Solomon made a similar plea. He asked the Lord for wisdom instead of riches, because he knew he couldn’t lead God’s people without it. As a result, God not only gave Solomon what we requested, but unprecedented wealth as well. Ask. If it is good you shall receive.
Notice Jesus’ choice of words: “Give us this day, our daily bread.” God wants you to walk with Him one day at a time. He wants us to trust Him for tomorrow, next week, next year. That’s why He says, “Ask me for today.” Think back to the story of manna in Exodus 16. While the nation of Israel wandered through the wilderness on its way to the Promised Land, God provided white, fluffy manna for them to eat. Every morning, without fail, there it was on the ground for the people to pick up and eat. But there was a catch. Manna couldn’t be stored. Those who had tried discovered that it bred worms. (The interesting exception to this rule was that manna could be stored over the Sabbath. No gathering was done on the Lord’s Day.) What was God’s point? He didn’t want His people living on yesterday’s manna. The Lord was teaching Israel to depend on Him to provide their daily bread. Now, you may have enough bread in your freezer to last you for weeks. But, you still may be metaphorically living on yesterday’s manna. God wants you to remember each day where your blessings, your forgiveness and your very life come from. Lamentations 3:22 says,
“The Lord’s lovingkindness never stops for His compassion never fails. It is new every morning.”
Excerpt from “Prayers that pass the ceiling” by Tony Evans