Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Do You Know Your Needs?

I've heard many people ask how we in our highly indulgent western cultures can truly pray, "give us our daily bread." the question comes from two types of people. The first type consists of mostly preachers/pastors/church leaders. They ask the question in hopes that we will hear in the asking a convicting statement, but then almost every time follow the question with something like, "but don't get me wrong, having lots of stuff is fine." so, instead of being convicted we hear that daily bread only applies to those without means to have more.

That leads me to think that, sadly, the second type of people who raise the "how can we ask for daily bread" are actually more sincere in their asking. This group are people who use this and other texts to point out how hypocritical Christians are. This is one of those great and pointed reasons why they will not consider Christianity.

The funny thing to me is that neither group is really asking the right question. This isn't a how can you question; it's a do you question. That is where it becomes personal and convicting. asking how makes is general, asking do you makes it personal. So, "do you ask for daily bread?" and (with all respect for "not adding anything to scripture") let's add two more words to that, "do you TRULY ask for ONLY your daily bread?" Since I believe 99% of us will answer in the negative, let me ask the next and all important question. Why do we not truly ask only for our daily bread?

There are probably a million reasons for why we don't ask only for daily bread. I think the top of that list is likely we simply want more than that. The concept of "daily bread" just doesn't quite cut it for our happiness. Maybe that is a bit harsh sounding. Then answer this: can you honestly even tell me what you think daily bread consists of for you? I can tell you that is a VERY tough question for me to answer. If I am 100% honest, I will answer something like, "one small meal, a couple glasses of water, shirt, shoes, pants (and hopefully underwear), and a small room (with or without a bed), and maybe a cover if it's crazy cold. The problem is, I'm rarely honest about the answer. That list has NEVER been my answer to the question of "what makes up your daily bread."

The ability for us (or at least those who are likely to read this) to honestly consider the bare necessities as all we want from God as far as our physical needs goes just doesn't seem plausible. To live in a manner below the supposed poverty line is simply ludicrous. After all, doesn't God want me to be successful? Well, does He? In short, no. I don't think God cares about your success one little bit. He couldn't begin to care less about your success so long as that success is defined by man's view, and it is. The success God cares about is when He welcomes His followers (don't take that word lightly here) into His eternal kingdom and says "well done my child." That phrase will not be in reference to how well you moved up the corporate ladder, or how much you left your kids in your will. That phrase is reserved for how well we reflected His grace, love and mercy to others and how well we did at following His example of self-sacrifice.

Before you (or I, since I am guilty of this) say something like, "what Jesus really means is to acknowledge our basic needs and be aware and grateful for all our extra blessings," take a look at some of Jesus' other words. In Luke 9:58 Jesus says "foxes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Sounds to me like Jesus didn't even consider a place to sleep among his daily bread. Want the best part of that statement from Jesus? It is in response to the statement in the preceding verse where a man said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." See, I told you not to take the word follower to lightly. I just don't think you can take the whole of Jesus teaching and make the idea of the "Lord's Prayer" daily bread as a simple acknowledgement of your blessings. It is WAY more than that to Jesus. He truly meant it as depending upon God for your daily needs.

Now true, Jesus isn't likely talking just about physical needs here. I think He is indeed talking about EVERY need. The point isn't does He mean food or love. The point is that whatever your NEED, truly NEED is what we should be asking God for. Let's be real. Ask your Heavenly Father for what you NEED and start forgetting about all the stuff you want that the world says you need. Who defines your needs, you or your culture. Who do you listen to in order to determine what you need, your college buddies or God's Word? Let me suggest we start with God's Word as our only need and slowly move out from there. Let's look to Jesus and His TRUE followers from the Bible to see what REAL NEEDS look like and begin to bring our lives into alignment with that.

Let's start honestly, with integrity praying "Father, give me ONLY what I NEED for TODAY. And let me be content, no let me be thrilled beyond my hearts capacity with Your provision each day." That's a Chris-follower's prayer!