This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins
In this study I will focus on the shortest part of the prayer that stands on its own. It is again something that is often misunderstood or misquoted. These simple few words: “give us today our daily bread.”
This is about the most basic level of our needs. Daily bread. A prayer that you will have food in your stomach. It is not a prayer for money. It is not a prayer for a larger home. It is not a prayer for a car, or a newer and faster car. It is not a prayer for wealth in any shape or form.
These days there are many people who preach a ‘prosperity gospel.’ They say things like Christ became poor so that we might be rich. They quote the verse about it being impossible to out-give God (Luke 6:38). I don’t see this ‘gospel’ as being from God, but only an excuse for some greedy ‘big name’ preachers to get richer at the expense of poor Christians.
What I see is big-name preachers and teachers taking photo opportunities with ragged and poor children in Africa or South America to use for advertising of their international ministries, while they are in their own minds planning yet another extension to their multi-million dollar mansion. Why? It would be better to use the money to provide proper housing, proper safe diet, and good education to those ragged kids.
And I see the Luke 6 verse being used as some kind of magic formula, like a way of trying to manipulate the universe, or even like a kind of witchcraft. A challenge to whoever will listen to give more and more and more, because the verse seems to suggest that you will receive back much more (and totally ignoring the context of the verse, by the way…).
So they use this verse when calling for the donations and ‘love offerings’ in the big meetings. They challenge people to empty their wallets and their bank accounts, while all this money goes to their own accounts. So their mansions become larger, their super-car collections get another vehicle. They get to travel to yet another exotic location that others can only dream of, claiming ‘missionary work’ while wining and dining and enjoying the holiday – giving the minimum to the local economy and helping few. Sometimes they hold the big evangelical rally in that exotic location, and maybe even thousands will come. But there is the same teaching about money and a call for the ‘love offering’ and so those who are often close to starving give from what they can’t afford and place their own children in danger, while the visiting evangelist grows even more in wealth.
I am not joking! You will find many such on the ‘God Channel’ and similar places. Brothers and sisters beware!! You may be inadvertently putting money directly into the mouth of the devil! Do some research and keep your wallets and purses closed until you know 100% that it is the Lord speaking to you to give something to someone. Mostly these ‘big names’ don’t need another penny. They frankly disgust me. Taking advantage of the poor to feed their own greed and calling it the love and blessing of God. Sorry, but it makes me want to puke.
Yes it is good and right to give. But read what Jesus repeatedly says to rich people. Instead of saying to build another wing to their home, what is it that He really says? Sell all you own and give to those in need. So much for the ‘prosperity gospel.’
These ‘big names’ bring to mind another passage of scripture later in the gospel of Matthew. The part where Jesus talks about not all who come to Him saying Lord, lord, will enter the Kingdom. It is worth reading the whole passage. These were ministers of the gospel with international and miraculous ministries. They had faith in the Name of Christ. But it seems that this faith alone was not enough for their salvation. Yes, we are saved by faith – but a faith borne out of a relationship. What relationship? As sons and daughters of the Father, and as brothers and sisters to the first born – Jesus Christ. It is interesting that Jesus said, get away from me your workers of evil, because I never knew you.
Don’t read all this the wrong way. I am not opposed to the doctrine of salvation by faith. It is just that Jesus makes it obvious time and time again that there is more to it than that. And the ‘more’ is not legalism either. It is never any help to the salvation of anyone to tell them to do this or that. What is needed again and again (and I make no apology for sounding like a stuck record about this) is a personal identification with the work of the cross of Christ. A dying to self daily, so that the life, the love, and the righteousness of Christ can be lived out in your life.
And this life of Christ in us brings us close to the Father, our Father. And He is a good Father. He will make sure that His children will not starve. He will provide for you according to your needs. And provided you come to this position through the Cross, then, frankly, He will look after you whether or not you give into the offering. Don’t allow any preacher to make you feel guilty about that, or to bind you with chains of legalism about it either. This is between you and the Father, and not the business of anyone else.
If your church has a promise to give into the collection as one of the things you need to sign your name against – don’t sign! Run away from that church! Find one that preaches the true gospel without legalism. A church where love comes first. The Lord will touch your heart to give and show you the amount also. All needs can be met.
And what was the most significant word in that last sentence? For me, it is the word ‘needs.’ Have faith that the Father will provide for your needs. And certainly for the most important of all: food in your stomach.
I was wealthy, but then for several reasons I lost it all. I became homeless and with almost nothing to call my own. But it is in that situation that I learned to live by faith. I repeatedly saw the Lord provide me with food, shelter, new clothes. It grew to sending me to other countries, meeting new people, and beginning to work for Him. More opportunities, more travel, more excitement, more ministry both given and received, since I had to become completely dependent and reliant on the provision of the Lord.
He keeps his promises! He provides for our needs, not our wants. I know this is true! I know because it happens every day in my life.
Give us this day our daily bread. Amen.