Study 7: Why worry when you can pray?

We rarely give bread much thought. It’s a staple of most diets across the world and whether it’s a seeded batch loaf, a roti or a soft brown roll, there’s any number of ways you can turn flour into bread.  

In Swindon, few of us will have to worry where our next meal will come from. It’s a different matter though when it comes to concerns about money or work. When we face the job cuts in the kind of corporate downscale SBC are planning (announced 24/10/17) or when unexpected demands stretch our financial resources, it’s easy to worry. We know God provides; we’re just concerned how He will support us in the crisis we are facing right now.

The first three requests in the Lord’s Prayer focus on the Father: His name, His reign, His will. Most of our prayers start in the middle of this prayer with our own needs. Jesus doesn’t ignore our needs. He just puts them in the right priority. So, in today’s study, we consider the request “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

A God wise enough to create me and the world I live in is wise enough to watch out for me (Philip Yancey)

We can be certain that God will give us the strength and resources we need to live through any situation in life that he ordains. The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us (Billy Graham)

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
(Romans 8:32)

To think about

  1. Share a personal experience of how God has provided for you personally, in an unexpected way
  2. What kind of things do you worry about the most?
  3. How do the above quotes help us to put worry and provision into perspective?

Please read Luke 12 verses 13 to 34

We’ve started our reading earlier to include a parable – a story Jesus told to bring spiritual truth into everyday circumstances. In this instance, it’s a parable that follows a question about money, specifically the “rights” of an individual to a share of an estate (vv. 13).  There’s more to it than that – and Jesus’ teaching in the verses that follow (note the “therefore” in verse 22), illustrate the concern that lies at the heart of the earlier dialogue.

What is life really all about? (verses 22 to 23)

  1. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs us to ask the Father for each day’s provision. Why such an emphasis on the immediate - why not ask for a month of groceries?
  2. What other necessities might we ask the Father to give us each day?
  3. On a scale of one (representing “no problems”) to ten (representing “wild panic”), where would you register on the worry chart today? Explain why you gave yourself that rating.
  4. Does Jesus intend (from His teaching in verse 22), that we shouldn’t plan what to feed our family tomorrow or pick out clothes for work the night before? What does he mean?
  5. How might worry affect our sense of worth before God (verse 22)

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow: rather, it empties today of its strength.  We are right to be concerned about the future -planning where appropriate being prepared when it’s possible, - but we should never forget that our future is in God’s hands. Just like the Farmer who built the big barns to store a bumper crop for his own use, we will be called to account for everything we do and for the intent behind it.

Putting worry into perspective (verses 24 to 34)

  1. What practical truths can we learn from the ravens and the lilies?
  2. How would you use these verses to encourage someone who is going through difficulties?
  3. How do people who live without faith in God (“the pagan world,” verse 30) deal with their daily needs? Why can Christians respond differently?
  4. Verse 31 instructs us to “seek his kingdom.” Where can we invest in God’s kingdom in some very practical ways?
  5. If you genuinely adopt the attitude reflected in verses 32 to 34, how will it change your view of life and your material needs?

To think about this week

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35). How do you pray for spiritual nourishment? Where do you go to find that kind of “bread”?

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