Why Don’t We Pray For Stupid Stuff More?

by Mar 29, 2017

Why Don’t We Pray For Stupid Stuff More?

by Mar 29, 2017

Why Don’t We Pray For Stupid Stuff More?

by Mar 29, 2017

When Jesus taught us how to pray, he told us to pray for bread. When’s the last time you thought to pray for bread?

We know our 12-grain whole wheat bread comes from a long chain of people.

  • Some guy tills a field, and plants a whole bunch of seeds. Then he has to come back later with a big combine and harvest the wheat.
  • Then someone has to drive it over to the grain elevator.
  • Then someone else has to drive it over to the flour mill.
  • Then some other guy has to run a machine that mills the wheat into flour.
  • Then a guy drives the flour to the bakery.
  • Then another guy mixes the flour with eggs and milk and 11 other grains, and puts it into the oven.
  • Then another guy drives it to the supermarket.
  • Then another guy puts it on the shelf.
  • Then another guy scans it at the register, so you can finally take it home and make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.

We depend on dozens of people to bring us our bread, but even with all of those people involved, Jesus says is there’s only one person responsible for supplying bread: God. So he says you need to pray for bread.

Maybe you’re like many Christians, and you think Jesus was just speaking metaphorically. God’s way too concerned with eternal things to think about something as insignificant as bread. I should be praying for more important things. Not stupid stuff like food. So why did Jesus tell us to pray for it?

It’s even more striking when you see the context of the full prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9-11).

Doesn’t that seem like a really sharp turn? We’re starting out with this awe-inspiring reminder that God is our father, the sovereign omnipotent one in heaven. We’re praying for his name to be hallowed — for him to be glorified and worshiped. We’re praying for his kingdom to come — for his reign to expand, and for his will to be done in our lives, and in our islands, and in our nation, and across the world. We’re praying for God to come and bring heaven down to earth!

And then we say, “Oh, and could you stop and pick up some bread on your way?” It seems so out of place, doesn’t it? We went from the heights of heaven to Foodland aisle 4. You have to pass the aisle with the hemorrhoid cream to get there.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If I pray for God to hallow his name through me, and his kingdom to come in me, and his will to be done by me, then I’m going to need to have energy to do all that. That’s why Jesus wants us pray for stupid stuff like bread.[/perfectpullquote]Why is Jesus teaching us to pray something that seems so boring? Here’s why: because if I pray for God to hallow his name through me, and his kingdom to come in me, and his will to be done by me, then I’m going to need to have energy to do all that. That’s why Jesus wants us pray for stupid stuff like bread.

Jesus is showing us how to pray realistically. He’s not teaching us to go off on a mountaintop somewhere and find some kind of spiritual inner peace. He’s not teaching us to be totally detached from this world, and become monks who fast every day and take vows of poverty silence. He’s not saying that we need to be totally tranquil and serene, floating above the craziness of life. That’s eastern mysticism, not Christianity.

As Paul Miller wrote in his book A Praying Life, “The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self-absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love . . . and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer.

Look at the life Jesus led, and you see someone who was crazy busy all the time. Going from one thing to the next, never getting a lot of sleep. Getting hungry, getting tired, getting thirsty. He had to depend on his Father through prayer, expecting God to supply him with everything he needed to keep going and keep ministering. Jesus showed us that physical things really matter.

A few years ago, we had an Athletic Director in our church lead a workshop at our men’s retreat, on the topic of developing a fitness plan. I loved how he framed it. He said, “Hey guys, you want to serve God, right? You want to have more energy so you can serve God more, yeah? You want to live longer so you can serve God longer, yeah? Then why aren’t you taking care of your body?”

Fitness helps us serve God. Food helps us serve God. A good car can help you serve God. Even a good parking space can help you serve God.

And that’s why we pray for stupid stuff.