I have been enjoying the weekly meetings at which we have undertaken The Prayer Course. The group has been small; usually about ten in attendance, although last week there were thirteen. Slowly we have been considering different aspects of prayer with a focus on The Lord’s Prayer to guide us.
Last Wednesday we considered “listening”, which is probably what we do least in prayer. The line from The Lord’s Prayer was, “Give us today our daily bread.”
A number of years ago now, when I took a weekly service at Firbank Grammar School, I was asked to talk about The Lord’s Prayer. As we considered this line of the prayer, we appreciated that it wasn’t just about bread or even about food. The line helped us to focus on our dependence upon God and his many provisions – yes our food, but clean water, good medical care, our education, friendships and so on.
Something else that we must consider is how God communicates with us. We are dependent upon his word to us. There is his Word (the Bible), as well as advice from Christian friends and our own common sense. The presenter of the series, Pete Grieg, suggests that when listening to God we remember ABC – Advice, Bible, Common Sense.
“Give us today our daily bread” might mean we are eager and listening for God’s voice.
And we must also note that despite the fact that many of us say the prayer quietly and privately and individually, that the pro-nouns are plural. Give us today our daily bread. We might be praying for ourselves, but the prayer is for all humanity.
The Lord’s Prayer is a great prayer, but it is more than a list of requests. As we offer the prayer slowly, we will find God speaking to us. The challenge we ask ourselves: are we listening?
Bless you as you listen
You have probably heard a variety of prayers before meals in your lifetime: ‘Two four six eight, dig in don’t wait!’ and ‘Grace!’ among them. I always give thanks, but sometimes it is a silent action. I don‘t need to make a spectacle of myself.
An acquaintance of mine, Iain Radvan, recently wrote, “Giving thanks before a meal can be one of the simplest and most heart-felt of prayers that an individual or group can say. It is not always spoken aloud – I believe that an unspoken ‘yummy’ or the appreciative sniff of an aroma is giving thanks to God and to the cook. Grace before meals can be extended to voicing thanks for other blessings that have come a person’s way during the day.”
“When I say ‘thank you’ before I eat, I am mindful not only of the cook, but, all in a second, of the Earth that provided the seed and soil, of the farmers who nurtured the plants, of the life and death of the animals, of the drivers who distributed the food and the shopkeepers who sold it. This meal and this prayer connects me to the whole Earth community. I feel humbled and truly grateful.”
So, that simple prayer might contain a wealth of ‘thanksgivings’, all offered in the blinking of an eye. Thank you Lord.
Like me you must have been so pleased to hear that the boys in Thailand trapped in a cave had been rescued. On Wednesday last the Herald Sun had the headline “World’s Prayers Answered.” Prayer was mentioned on the front page of a daily paper. I had also noticed that many a TV news presenter had also said something along the lines of the boys being in our thoughts and prayers. In the emergency that these boys faced many people turned to prayer.
The cynic in me might ask what people meant by prayer – wishful thinking, positive thoughts – which might well be prayer, but to whom are the prayers addressed?
Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney wrote recently, “Prayer in the presence of God is the appropriate response of those made in the image of God, who know they fall short of the glory of God, yet who rest upon his promise of forgiveness when they stand before their Maker.”
I am certainly one who dreams of futuristic outcomes, wishes to understand the present and reflects on times past. Prayer for me, however, is communication with the living God. As I commence I seek to put my relationship with God in a positive place, which I do by confessing my sin, and then I feel free to go on and discuss various things with God and make requests of him.
I prayed for the safe evacuation of the boys from the cave and then upon hearing that all were rescued we offered thanks to God and prayed for their future good health.
God is always ready to hear from us, but our fallen state means that we have to confess our failings to him, seek is forgiveness and then proceed with adoration, thanksgiving and requests.
Bless you as you pray.