Pray for Provision

Pray for Provision

by Erin Bird

If you are reading this on Thursday, Jan 13, today is Day 13 of our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. I want to repeat what I said last week: if you’ve already missed a day or two or more, don’t worry about it. Simply open your devotional booklet to Day 13 and do that page today. And if you’ve already given in to temptation from that which you are fasting, today is a new day, so begin the fast again.

To complement the 21 Days, we are looking at the Lord’s Prayer as found in the book of Luke. We’ve already looked at verses 1 and 2, which brings us to verse 3, which says…

Give us each day our daily bread.
(Luke 11:3, ESV)

In the sermon at the Worship Gathering on January 2, we saw that trust is a key component of prayer. This cannot be seen any clearer than in the short sentence of verse 3. And we see “trust” as a theme in three ways:

1. Provide Me the Basics

Bread was considered a staple of the Jewish diet, the most common, almost-taken-for-granted, item of food included in a meal. And yet, Jesus is inviting His listeners to pray even for what they assume they will always have! Just as the ancient Israelites needed to trust God for manna while they wandered the wilderness in Exodus 16, you and I need to trust God to provide even the very basics in our own lives.

Now, don’t make the mistake some literalists make and think this means you can only pray for bread. The bread represents the basics you need for daily living. So, it’s okay to pray for God to supply money for the electric bill, gas for the car, and relief from sickness. To ask God to “give bread” is simply a poetical way of saying, “God, I am so dependent upon you, I need you to provide everything I need to live this life you have given me, even the most basic of necessities.”

Pray for Provision

2. Provide Me Today

The second thing I want you to see is that Jesus invites us to pray for these basics to be provided “each day.” In Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, we hear Jesus teach that “each day” includes “this day.” You can trust God to provide exactly what you need today.

3. Provide Me Tomorrow

But there’s more to this short sentence than just “give me the basics for today.” According to the tools at NETBible.org, the construction of the Greek of verse 3 could also be translated, “Give us bread each day for the coming day.”

To me, this means I can trust God so much, He will not only provide what I require today – He’ll also provide what I need tomorrow. What a thought! This helps me be at peace.

In light of all of these three things from verse 3, let’s end this Note in prayer together:

Heavenly Father,

Help me to trust you to provide exactly what I need today as well as tomorrow. But I pray you will not only provide me with the food, income, shelter, and friendships I need to make it through each day. I also ask that You will provide me with the faith to trust You as my provider, and peace as an outcome of that faith.

In Jesus’ name, I pray,
Amen.

Pray to the Father

Pray to the Father

by Erin Bird

Welcome to Day 6 of our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting to start the New Year. If you’ve already missed a day or two (or three!), don’t worry about it. Simply open your devotional booklet to Day 6 and do that page today. (If you don’t have a devotional booklet, it’s not too late to pick one up at the building today, tomorrow, or Sunday.) And if you’ve already given in to temptation from that which you are fasting, today is a new day, so begin the fast again.

Last week, we began a new series here in the weekly email that is running parallel to our 21 Days. This past Sunday, I taught from Matthew 6:5-15, which contains the Lord’s Prayer. But here in the email, we are walking through the Lord’s Prayer as found in the book of Luke. Last week, we looked at verse 1, which brings us to verse 2 for this post.

Here is verse 2 of Luke 11, as found in the English Standard Version translation:

And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.'”
(Luke 11:2, ESV)

Last week, we saw that the reason Jesus taught what has been nicknamed “The Lord’s Prayer” is because His disciples asked, “Teach us to pray.”  And as He begins teaching, Jesus says, “Alright, when you pray, here is what you should say:”

#1: To the Father

First, notice who the prayer is directed toward – God the Father. Jesus doesn’t teach them to pray to angels, or saints, or ancient prophets, or any other mediator. First Timothy 2:5 tells us there is only one mediator between God and humans – Jesus. And here is Jesus the Mediator giving permission to all of His followers to talk directly to the Father.

This is incredible! The Creator of the Universe invites us to come directly to Him in prayer. He isn’t like some mythological god who rages in anger in the heavens or makes unmeetable demands. He is a personal, caring, approachable God who loves us like a daddy loves his newborn.

However, just because we are given the opportunity to approach the throne of God with confidence doesn’t mean we treat the Father flippantly. This is why Jesus next teaches us to pray…

Pray to the Father

#2: With Respect

The Father is far more loving and approachable than you may realize, but He is also far more holy than you can comprehend. In fact, He is SO holy, even His name is holy. Not just His being, or presence, or character. His very NAME is holy!

So come to Him in prayer – He wants you there! Just come with respect and awe and humbleness, because even His name is hallowed.

#3: With Surrender

As we saw this past Sunday, the underlying current to the Lord’s Prayer is trust. Jesus next teaches us to pray to the Father and humbly ask with a trustful heart for God to bring His Upside-Down Kingdom into our lives. This means surrendering to the King and submitting ourselves to His will and desire.

So let me encourage you to take 30-seconds right now and apply what Jesus teaches by praying something like this:

Heavenly Father,

Thank you that you have created a way through Jesus for me to approach you. You are so holy, so amazing, and so unlike me, yet you seem to delight in opening your arms and letting me come to you in prayer. Please help me to trust you, to let you do in me and through me what you will, that your kingdom would rule and reign in my heart, my thoughts, and my entire life.

In Jesus’ name, I pray,
Amen.

Learn To Pray

Learn to Pray

by Erin Bird

By now, you know 2021 is slipping past us and 2022 will be upon us soon. (Which means you have two days left to try to get your 2021 New Year’s Resolution accomplished!)

Hopefully, you heard this past Sunday, we will begin the 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting this Saturday, Jan 1. (If you didn’t pick up a devotional booklet, you can do so tomorrow (Friday, Dec 31) anytime between 1:00 and 5:00 pm.) I strongly encourage you to not only participate each day with the devotional booklet but to also fast from something for the first three weeks of 2022. It could be a certain type of food, or a specific meal each day, or even something like social media or entertainment so that we might together as a church family seek God and His full presence.

Through the booklets and on Sundays, we’ll engage in a series called The Upside-Down Kingdom which will walk us through much of Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5, 6, & 7. But here on the Riverwood website, I want to dig deeper into the topic of prayer since that is what we will be focused on doing for 21 days. To help us consider this important topic to make the most of the 21 days, we will look at the Lord’s Prayer from Luke 11.

You are probably more familiar with the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew. If you grew up in a church that recited the Lord’s prayer, it is patterned more after the version in Matthew than the one in Luke. While Matthew’s version isn’t vastly different than what is recorded in Luke, the version in  Matthew just has a bit more. (We will study Matthew’s version this coming Sunday.)

There is a reason I am choosing to look at Luke’s version for this post – because of how it starts. Take a moment to read verse 1:

“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1 ESV)

Luke opens the 11th chapter of his gospel with Jesus praying to the Father, just a stone’s throw away from the disciples. When He finishes, He walks back over to where the disciples are sitting, and one of them pipes up and asks Jesus to teach them to pray. Perhaps the Twelve were talking amongst themselves about prayer while watching Jesus in the distance down on His knees. So when Jesus rejoins them, one brave soul makes a request of Jesus – “teach us to pray.”

Learn to Pray The fact that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray tells me they weren’t content with their current understanding of the topic. They weren’t just content to have Jesus do the praying for them. They weren’t content with just saying the prayers taught to them when they were young Jewish boys. And they clearly weren’t content to just freestyle it. They sensed something different in the way Jesus talked with the Father. (And they knew John the Baptist had taken time to teach some of his disciples to pray.) So because they desired a close relationship with God the Father, they boldly yet humbly asked Jesus to teach them to pray.

As we begin the 21 Days on Saturday, I hope you will be like the disciples. I hope you won’t be content with the current state of your relationship with God through prayer. I hope you won’t be content to just repeat prayers you may have been taught in childhood. And I hope you won’t be content to just mumble something every so often.

Instead, I hope you will truly seek after God, letting Jesus teach you yet again how to engage in prayer that draws you close to the Father and gives you the joy of watching Him do what only He can do in response to your time with Him.

Freedom in Prayer

Freedom in Prayer

By Erin Bird

Today, we are concluding our short three-week series on prayer. In week 1, we talked about how often you can pray to God (anytime!). Then last week, we discussed how we are to approach God in prayer (authentically!). But if I were to put this into a math formula, I think it would look like this:

Frequency + Fervency = Freedom

As we saw in week one, when the Apostle Paul told the church in Thessalonica that they should “pray continually,” that would mean they could pray anywhere at anytime. They weren’t relegated to just praying in the temple, or at the dinner table, or at the foot of their bed before sleep. They had the freedom to pray to God at any hour in any location.

Likewise, as we saw in the psalms last week, we can come into God’s presence authentically. Having a bad day? You can tell Him about it. Have something to celebrate? Praise God for it! Angry at Him for allowing something hard in your life? Share your feelings honestly. (He can handle it!) In other words, you have the freedom to just be you before God.

But let me warn you: When you come to God freely in prayer, you are also giving Him the freedom to work in you and around you as He sees fit. When you pray, you are ultimately surrendering to God. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) However, I think you will discover that when you freely surrender to God in prayer, you will find your greatest joy as you see Him do what only He can do.

So even though our 21 Days of Prayer ends this Saturday, may you continue to realize you have the freedom to come to God at anytime, in anyplace, with anything on your heart. He loves you, and because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God welcomes you with open arms to approach His throne of grace with confidence.

Heavenly Father, help me to realize I have the freedom to talk with you through prayer. Forgive me for not coming to you more often, and when I do, for not bringing my full self before you. Grow me as a pray-er. Help me find joy in your presence and to trust you to answer my prayers as only you can. Thank you, though, for the freedom you have given me to come before you, the Holy One of Heaven, and bring my requests freely before you.

In Christ I pray,
Amen

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