Every day my husband and I share time together, and with God. We are currently using Celtic Daily Prayer and have begun Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (which sounds bizarre, but actually it’s very interesting – the title is because it was written in 1652. It probably didn’t sound so weird then. Or maybe it did. Who knows? It’s good stuff and worth looking at).
Today we read an extract from the Desert Fathers:
A brother came to visit Abba Sylvanus at Mount Sinai. When he saw the brothers working hard, he said to the old man:
“Do not work for food that perishes, for Mary has chosen the good part”.
Then the old man called his disciple:
“Zachary, give this brother a book, and put him in an empty cell.”
Now when it was three o’clock the brother kept looking out of the door to see if someone would call him for the meal. But nobody called him, so he got up, went to the old man, and asked:
“Abba, didn’t the brothers eat today?”
The old man replied: “Of course we did!”
“Then why didn’t you call me,” he asked.
The old man replied: “You are a spiritual person, and do not need that type of food, but since we are earthly, we want to eat and that’s why we work. Indeed, you have chosen the good part reading all day long, and not wanting to eat earthly food.”
When the brother heard this he repented:
“Forgive me, Abba.”
Then the old man said to him: “Mary certainly needed Martha, and it is really by Martha’s help that Mary is praised.”
from Celtic Daily Prayer
A Northumbrian Office
Also each day until the end of the G8 summit I have signed up to receive Tearfund’s prayer requests. This is an extract from today:
‘Give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonour the name of my God.’
The prayer for daily bread is a prayer for all – for some it’s a prayer for less. Lord please don’t give me more than I can cope with, please protect me so my cup doesn’t runneth over, so my plate is not stacked too high, so my balance isn’t too big. It’s a plea that we put God’s glory at the centre of our lives. It’s a prayer for protection from over provision so we don’t disown or dishonour God’s glory.
But the prayer for daily bread is also a prayer for more for poor people. In a world where every day one in eight people go hungry something needs to be done. The Lord’s Prayer directs us to hallow God’s name and to forgive others, this requires more than just recitation, it demands a response.
Lord help us to remember,
make us one,
help us to live for your glory.
Lord please give us this day our daily bread.
Reading both of these reminded me of the story of Christ’s temptation:
…Jesus was hungry. Then the Devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, order these stones to turn into bread.”
But Jesus answered, “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’”
Matthew 4:2-4 GNT
For the Follower of Christ these truths remain:
- Ending extreme poverty is not just about food in stomachs.
- Sharing the gospel is no good unless words are accompanied by actions. Fine-sounding words never filled a hungry child.
- Where I have more than enough, Christ has blessed me so that I may bless others.
It is this last one that I so often struggle with. When I cling to material wealth instead of sharing, I only show the shallowness of my relationship with God. I make idols for myself when I rename ‘want’ and call it ‘need’. I think this makes God sad. No wonder Jesus says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle…
‘Give us this day our daily bread.’