Morgan County, Ohio Presbyterian Churches
Prayer and Provision
Nothing drives me to my knees in prayer like need and fear. I echo author Anne Lamott’s first of “Three Essential Prayers”—“Help!” Biblical characters reveal that she and I—and you?—are not alone.
For example, the multiplied descendants of Abraham groaned under Egyptian oppression, God called Moses from a burning bush to lead them from slavery into freedom. Moses expressed his sense of inadequacy and God provided Aaron as a partner. Later, the recently liberated slaves worried about what they would eat while wandering in the wilderness and God provided fresh manna, just enough for each day. When they tried to gather more than they needed (except for a Sabbath portion), it spoiled. (Exodus 3, 16) God listened to the pleas of God’s children and invited them to practice trusting God’s consistent provision on a daily basis.
The model prayer Jesus provided in response to the disciples’ request was rooted in this ancient story. The precise words are less important than the pattern. Try presenting your specific needs and desire for help to God at least once a day. Consider keeping a journal of prayers and responses to help you witness God-at-work. Pray for one day only. Greedily praying for more than we really need tends to lead us in the direction of self-sufficiency rather than trusting in God’s dependability.
These days we have many needs and fears. Yet, God has provided helpers and to support and guide us through transition. The list of steps sometimes feels overwhelming and God invites us to take them one at a time. When we fall to our knees crying “Help!” God reminds us of previous provision, prompting us to humbly pray the second essential prayer—“Thanks!” Then God invites us to gaze toward an unknown future with confidence, knowing that God, with unimaginable ingenuity, is already preparing it for us. When we experience it, we’ll call out the third, “WOW!”
Remembering the human tendency to worry about the future and God’s consistent provision for human needs, Jesus invited disciples to trust God one day at a time. I seem to need a lot of practice! After all, Jesus knew that God had a broader vision for the future.
So Jesus said, “When you pray, say... Give us the bread we need for today…”
Luke 11:2-3, Common English Bible