They had always wanted a boat — and now they had it. They had always wanted to be in the open ocean — and now they were out there.
They had never actually wanted a storm — but now they had one of those too.
The pleasure of rolling on steady swells became pitching and tossing, climbing mountainous waves and falling into caverns between them.
“This is it,” they said. “We’re going to die.”
There are, in fact, atheists in foxholes, but these were not atheists. They called out to God.
“Lord if you get us through this alive, I swear we’ll never bother you again!”
God was more than generous. They came through alive. I suspect they were true to their side of the bargain as well — even though what they promised in return was something God never asked for.
If you take Jesus’ word for it, he would prefer that we promise to bother him every single day. He said we should pray
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
Every day you wake up it is again, truly, “this day.” We are supposed to come back and ask for help again.
And what we are expected to ask for doesn’t need to be so grand as sparing your life in a crisis: “bread” is about as basic as it gets.
Christians sometimes avoid this very basic kind of prayer. To get around it, historically some have interpreted “daily bread” as Jesus, the bread of life. Others have taken it to refer to the bread of the Lord’s Supper.
Question 125 of the Heidelberg Catechism has no such qualms. Praying for daily bread means
“Do take care of all our physical needs …”
The emphasis, though, is on the unspoken question “Why?”
First, we should ask God for every basic need because it teaches us where things actually come from. That is,
“… so that we come to know that you are the only source of everything good …”
And that includes the bread we pay for with our own hard-earned paycheck. God made the earth that grew the grain. God provided your steady job that allowed you to pay for it. Stuff like that.
Second, we should ask God for every basic need because in a quietly practical way it teaches faith.
“And so help us to give up our trust in creatures and trust in you alone.”
We know everything comes from somewhere. Over time we will put our trust in whatever we think, deep down, is the source of what we need — and trust is the core of faith.
Left to our own devices that source will probably seem to be our own hard work, or natural laws, or some other source here in the created world. Placing our faith in something in creation is, essentially, idolatry. And idolatry is a big problem.
Daily asking God for our every basic need shifts the weight of our faith off of creation and back to God where it belongs.
What makes praying for things as basic as bread difficult — or easy — for you?
What makes calling out daily to God for help easy — or difficult — for you?