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Psalm
118:25-29


Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!
 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.
 
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (ESV)
Praying for Bread
Holy Wednesday
23 March 2016
Some years ago while I was at a meeting with pastors in the office of a high church official, one of the pastors asked the church official if he could borrow his copy of the Book of Concord, to which the high church official replied, "I don't think I have that volume of Luther's Works." At the time, this reply occasioned stunned looks among the other pastors present and later was a subject that caused much levity. It seemed unthinkable that this high church official did not know the difference between Luther's private writings in the Works and the confessional standard of the Lutheran Church in the Book of Concord.
 
It is easy enough to cluck about the ignorance of our clergy and other church leaders and even to ridicule them for their manifestly risible missteps. But perhaps we should be asking the question, "Why has God sent us such leaders?" We should look to ourselves. Perhaps God has sent us the leaders we have deserved. We have not prayed for the bread that comes down from heaven, but have acted like it was our due, as though God always owed us that word and faithful preachers, "Of course the Word will always be among us. We are the Missouri Synod." 

Woe unto us for such arrogance and unbelief. We should pray all the more fervently in these dark days of spiritual ignorance and unbelief that God would give us our daily bread, not only bread for the body which only keeps fleshly life alive but also, and especially, the daily bread for the soul which gives life that cannot die. Give us this day our daily bread.

 

Martin Luther

"The meaning of the prayer is that God may give us the supernatural bread, our select, peculiar, and daily bread-daily so that we have it on hand and are constantly supplied with it against the time of need and suffering (which we may expect daily), so that it might strengthen us, lest we be taken unawares and despair and perish and die eternally from want of it.
 
"We must note here that we Christians ought to be richly and abundantly supplied with this bread. We should be so well versed and instructed in the Word of God that we have it at hand daily in all trials and will be able to strengthen ourselves and others. This is what the dear saints were able to do, as we gather from their letters and biographies. But we are at fault when we suffer want because we do not ask God for this bread. In consequence, we have ignorant bishops, priests, and monks, who have nothing to give us. And we, in turn, make a bad situation worse by loathing, ridiculing, and despising them. God's wrath brings matters to such a pass! Therefore we should examine this petition closely. In it God teaches us to pray for all spiritual leaders, especially for those who are supposed to offer us the Word of God. It will not be given to them unless we prove ourselves worthy of it and ask God for it. Therefore, when you see untrained and incompetent bishops, priests, or monks, do not curse, condemn, or rebuke them, but regard them as a horrible plague from God by means of which he punishes you and us all for not praying the Lord's Prayer and for not asking him for our daily bread.
 
"If we would sincerely pray the Lord's Prayer and ask for our daily bread, God would surely hear us and send us fine, capable, and learned spiritual leaders. We are at fault more than they. These days we find people whom God punishes by so hardening their hearts that they not only fail to recognize our untrained clergy as a plague, but even take delight in despising them and making light of this deserved plague of God, whereas they should really be weeping bloody tears, if this were possible, over such a serious and severe plague inflicted on us by God. I want you to know that God has never yet punished the world more harshly than by allowing blind and ignorant leaders to exist, who destroy us by withholding the Word of God and our bread. Let the Turks be Turks. This plague surpasses them. Woe unto us for not realizing this and praying for it to cease!
 
"On the other hand, God has never been more gracious to the world than when he granted it well-informed and devoted spiritual leaders, who supplied this Word daily and abundantly. Christendom, and every Christian soul, is born in and through the Word of God. Therefore they must also be nourished, preserved, and protected by it. Without it, they will perish more wretchedly than does the body when deprived of its physical bread."

Martin Luther, An Exposition of the Lord's Prayer for Simple Laymen, 4
 
Prayer
O Lord, give us this day our daily bread, that we might not starve either in body or soul. Give us faithful teachers who will eat the bread that comes down from heaven as their daily fare, that they might give to us the life-giving bread so that we might not die. Amen.
 
For our missionaries, that God would bless their work giving the life-giving bread from heaven
 
For clement weather, that God would grant to us the fruits of the earth and always give us our daily bread
 
For the people who have been affected by the terrorist attacks in Belgium, that they would be kept safe, those who are injured would find healing, that those who are grieving would find peace, and they would all be of good courage

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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