One Day at a Time

September 9, 2014

Give us this day our daily bread…”  (Matthew 6:11)

The Lord is using the symbol of bread here to represent all our needs.  We are a veritable ‘Internet” of needs.  Our needs are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  This first personal petition should not be limited to our need for food but for all the needs we have as creatures of God.

Observe that the concept ‘one day at a time’ is repeated twice in this petition of just seven words.  Alcoholics and drug addicts with years of sobriety tell me that when they took their first step, they could not even entertain the thought of being sober for more than one day.  This prayer of Jesus prescribes that we pray ‘this day’ and ‘daily’ when we present our creature needs to our Heavenly Father. This principle of one day at t time is a proven therapy that has made the difference between life and death for some of my closest friends who are celebrating many years of sobriety.  Observe how Jesus concludes His great teaching about values with the same emphasis later in Matthew 6:  “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow.  God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”  (Matthew 6:34, Living Bible)

We read in the book of Numbers that when God miraculously provided bread from Heaven (manna) in the wilderness, the Israelites were only permitted to collect enough manna for one day. That story, recorded in Numbers 11, is also applicable to the one-day-at-a-time principle Jesus prescribes in the prayer He taught.

When we apply the story of that great miracle to our daily devotions, we should make the application that we cannot hoard our experience of a word from God, or the blessings of a time in the presence of God.  We must have our souls and spirits nourished with heavenly manna every day, one day at a time.

Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer

A Prescription for Inner Healing

January 9, 2013

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12)

The greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.  Those who work in ministries of healing claim that the lack of forgiveness on the part of a victim that has been terribly violated can retard their own inner healing.

Can you see why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray every day: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors?”  The original language has it, “As we have already forgiven our debtors.”  Do you think Jesus knew how important it is to our inner healing that we should forgive those who sin against us?

Some are bothered by the way Jesus offers commentary on this petition in the disciple’s Prayer.  He commented that if we do not forgive we are not forgiven.  It almost sounds as if we are forgiven because we forgive.  He defuses their confusion with a parable that is recorded in Chapter Eighteen of Matthew.  A man is forgiven a very large debt in the millions of dollars.  He does not have to go into debtor’s prison and see his wife and family sold into slavery.

But on the way home he meets a man who owes him twenty dollars.  He grabs him by the throat and orders him to pay him every cent or he will have him put into debtor’s prison.  Both events are observed and told to the one who forgave him the large debt.  He is recalled and his forgiveness is revoked.  Jesus comments on that story, that if we from our hearts do not forgive, we are not forgiven.

The point is that if we are a forgiven person we will be a forgiving person.  If we are not a forgiving person we are not really a forgiven person.

A Prescription for Forgiveness

September 25, 2012

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”   (Matthew 6:12 NIV)

In all the communication that flows between a husband and wife there are ten critical words that often must be spoken.  These ten words have saved marriages and the lack of them has dissolved marriages into divorce.  Those ten words are: “I was wrong.  I am sorry.  Will you forgive me?” And they critically need this ten-word response: “You were wrong.  I was hurt.  But I forgive you.”

Some people will never say the words: “I was wrong.” They never say: “I am sorry.” And they certainly would never ask for forgiveness.  They would rather live alone for the rest of their lives than to say these ten critical words.  It may be their pride prevents them or perhaps they are driven by the myth of their own perfection.  But these words can make the difference between marriage and living alone.

It is hard to imagine an unforgiving authentic disciple of Jesus Christ when the Disciple’s Prayer instructs us to forgive as we have been forgiven or we invalidate our own forgiveness (Matthew 6: 8-15).  According to the translation from which I have quoted, the teaching actually asks our Lord to forgive us as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.

God’s “Eighteen Wheeler”

May 22, 2012

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”    (Matthew 6:13)

An attractive young lady was returning from a church meeting at a late hour.  When she stopped at a traffic light, a large “eighteen-wheeler” truck was in the next lane.  As the light changed and she pulled away, the large truck “tailgated” her car while blinking its lights and blowing its loud air horn.

She was very frightened and increased her speed as she drove out of the city limits toward the farmhouse where she lived with her parents.  The huge truck followed her all the way, blinking its lights and blowing its horn.   She turned into a long dirt road that led to her home.  The truck followed her as she drove right up to the porch of the house.  When she frantically popped open her door to run for the house, the back door of her car suddenly opened and a man with a large knife bolted for the woods.

When she stopped for that light, the truck driver saw the man crouching behind her front seat with a knife in his hand.  Realizing that she was going to be attacked as soon as she drove into the country, the truck driver was determined to save her from that tragedy.

Sometimes, our suffering and limitations seem like that eighteen-wheeler bearing down on us.  Actually, however, that suffering can be a vehicle of our loving God, purging out of our lives the evil one who is determined to ruin us.  This is what our Lord was profiling when He instructed us in the disciple’s prayer to pray that we might be delivered from the evil one.

Can you meet yourself in this story?


Editor’s Note:  Dick Woodward (my Papa) recently returned from a hospitalization & has recovered nicely (thanks be to God!!)  He is now getting back into his normal schedule (blog writing inclusive.)  We appreciate your continued prayers as we give thanks – Life is a Gift!!