the story room

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

our eyes look to You

For my speech class a couple weeks ago, I had to give a short meditation on the part of the Lord's Prayer that says, "give us today our daily bread." It's not especially polished, but I wanted to share the thoughts I was working with. Here it is:

"I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy." (Psalm 123.1-2)

When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray he tells them to ask, "Give us today our daily bread."

Give us today our daily bread. Meet today the needs we have today. Put food on the table, Lord. Give us health and strength to work, and provide a paycheck to pay the bills. Give us the motivation and clarity of mind to complete our daily tasks. Keep the car running. Meet today the needs of the day. Give us our daily bread.

For some of us, this prayer is an easy one to pray. We recognize that we are dependent on God alone, and we look to his hand for everything we need. We're mindful that our physical needs matter to him just as much as our spiritual needs, so we don't feel foolish asking for food, money, clothes, strength, a running car. Some of us have been through times when we didn't know where our next meal would come from, how we would afford our home, how to send the kids to school or how to send ourselves to school. The only thing we knew was to fall to our knees, close our eyes, and with earnestness and faith pray, "Meet today, Lord, the needs we have today."

And whether or not we've been in such great need, we've been witnesses of his great power and loving care. We've seen him provide...sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes miraculously, always faithfully. We know that we're so weak and dependent on God that in and of ourselves we don't even have the power to put food on the table. So in thankfulness, faith, and trust we pray with all our hearts, "Give us today our daily bread."

For others of us, this is a difficult prayer to pray. We've known security and comfort all our lives, and we've never felt the anxiety of wondering how our daily needs would be met. We know that God is the giver and sustainer of life, but we've never had to ask for a thing. We're able to walk to the refrigerator, microwave food we bought with money we earned...and it's so easy and natural that we forget that it is a gift of God. Asking for food we know we'll receive seems like a formality. Why ask when we know we'll receive? And we may still be deeply thankful for what we have...but we forget that it's been given to us. Even so, whether we feel it or not, let us pray: Give us today, God, our daily bread.

And for still others of us, this is a difficult prayer for a completely different reason: we ask and cry out and beg, and still we receive not. We've faced foreclosure notices that end in eviction. We can't get a job, no matter how hard we search and where we apply. The health we need to work and live fails us. The car won't start.

And we think of those in other lands who look to the sky pleading for rain...but the earth remains full of dust, the livestock die, and the crops don't come in. We think of those who pray desperately for bread, but it doesn't come...certainly not every day. And this is a difficult prayer to pray because there are those of us who ask with expectancy and faith and hope...but the arms outstretched in prayer remain empty. How do we continue to ask when we never seem to receive? Even so, let us pray: Father, whether we understand or not, give us our daily bread.

Provide today, our Father, the needs we have today. It's a prayer we keep praying...sometimes because we see him answer; sometimes in spite of the fact that we don't think we need an answer; sometimes when we don't receive an answer. But we pray it still, not just because we have need of things, but because, at the very heart of it all, we are in need of him. We don't know why he gives as he does, nor why he withholds. But we say with the psalmist:

"I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy. Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us."

Our Father, we look to your hand, all of us. We live each day in dependence on you, whether we feel it intensely or not at all. We look to your hand for our greatest needs: for daily bread, for love, for breath, for you. We don't pretend to know your ways: you bless and you withhold; you give and you take away. But we know, Father, that you are good, and we know that you are loving. Grant us the faith to ask for daily bread, to look to your hand. Help us in our needs; turn to us and have mercy on us. Provide today the needs we have today. And whatever we receive or lack, blessed be your name.


Blogger Andii said...

Thanks for posting this. You may be interested in my further reflections on the issue at

10 March, 2007 08:30  

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