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Daily bread

The Life Less Traveled

February 15, 2012
For the last six months, my 3-year-old daughter, Kate, has refused to go to sleep without a slice of bread. She doesn't always eat it. Usually, she just takes a bite and sets it by her pillow in case she needs it. I'm sure it totally negates the effect of brushing her teeth before bed, and all the dentists reading this either now condemn me as a bad parent or hope I start bringing my family's business to their office.

The other bad part about Kate's nocturnal bread addiction is the fact that every morning we have to brush a couple of tablespoons of crumbs off of her sheets. I'm guessing if you looked under the corner of her bed, you'd either find enough crumbs to make a pan of Thanksgiving stuffing or one happy mouse.

I appreciate that Kate doesn't get greedy with the bread. She's strictly a one-slice-a-night girl — no more, no less. She asks for exactly what she needs.

I think that's what Jesus had in mind when He told His friends to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." He probably wasn't talking so much about the putting bread by your pillow part but the fact we should ask God and trust Him to meet our daily needs.

On one extreme, I've met people who have a hard time praying for themselves. They believe it's somehow selfish or unspiritual. These people feel guilty asking God for anything personal. After all, there's so much need in the world. Who are they to ask for God's help while there are children starving in Africa? People with this mindset are missing out on a couple of key facts.

1. I think God can multi-task. Once you create the universe, you can probably swing dealing with multiple prayer requests at once. This is the same God who told his followers to never stop praying. If I didn't want to deal with a bunch of calls coming in at the same time, I would not tell billions of people to give me a ring whenever they needed me.

I don't think one extra prayer is going to distract God from the really important ones. Can you imagine God saying, "Oh shoot, I was going to deal with that tornado, but Bob asked me for help with the job interview and I totally spaced the whole twister thing. Sorry, my bad." Not likely. Throw your requests to God. He can handle it.

2. God wants to be our dad in heaven. Good dads love to give things to their kids. I love to say yes to my girls. I don't always do it because it's not always the best thing for them, but when I can say yes, it's awesome. I love to see the look on their faces when I can give them exactly what they ask for. If that's how I feel, just imagine how much more the one perfect dad loves to give His kids what they need and sometimes just simply what they want.

That's tough for some people to get their heads around. They think God only gives us things that are good for us, like broccoli and vitamins, but those people don't know God. Good dads like to surprise their kids. God has nothing against broccoli and vitamins, but He's also a God of cake and doughnuts. He's a God of fun surprises.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that God always answers prayers the way we think He should. And He never promised to make us healthy or rich if we follow Him. But that doesn't mean He never comes through with something absolutely awesome. In fact, He often does. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift is from God, and we should gratefully accept it as such and give credit where credit is due. That doesn't mean we should feel entitled to it or bash God because He didn't give us everything on our Christmas list.

This is where the daily bread thing comes in. Asking God for daily bread means I trust Him for what I need today. I don't freak out about all of my tomorrows. I don't expect Him to make my life problem-free. I just ask Him for what I need for the next step in my life — today. Yes, I can pray into the future, asking God to prepare me for whatever He has in store and pave the way to deal with challenges I'll face down the road, but really what I need most is His help this minute.

That brings me back to Kate. Each night she asks for a sippy cup of water, two books and her daily bread. Give her that and she's good to go. She puts her head down on her pillow and rests securely, because she knows that her dad will give her exactly what she needs. As we learn to trust in God, we can rest with that same peace, knowing our Dad in heaven has us covered.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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