Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daily Bread

Last week I attended a seminar given by my New Testament professor, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel. He talked about the radical nature of Jesus' teachings in respect to the religious stance of his day. One of the things he mentioned that struck me was about Jesus' teachings regarding our relationship to God. Jesus encouraged his disciples to have an intimate relationship with their Father in Heaven. When he prayed, he addressed God as "Abba" which is Aramaic meaning "Father." When he taught his disciples how to pray, he taught them to pray for their daily needs. In the Lord's prayer, Jesus prays, "Give us this day our daily bread." Dr. Holzapfel made the point that people in Jesus' time and still today in Europe and elsewhere, people would go to the market every day to buy fresh bread, or they would bake fresh bread at the beginning of each day. I'd never really thought of it in that way since I've grown up always buying "weekly bread" from the grocery store, so I didn't really relate to that phrase very well. But, Dr. Holzapfel helped me to realize the intimacy of such a request. Such a prayer shows that Heavenly Father is concerned about even the simplest things in our lives - our day to day needs - not just the broad things; he's concerned about the specifics. This point was further driven home for me when in Relief Society (the women's organization in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon church)) the following Sunday, the discussion ended up focusing on ways of improving our prayers and making them more meaningful. Although I'm pretty good about remembering to pray, my prayers are regrettably formulaic at times, repetitive and not as feeling. I tend to repeat the same phrases and use generalities. So, I really appreciated being reminded of how intimate and loving our Heavenly Father is and I've since made the resolve to put more feeling into my prayers and to imagine a loving father listening to me as I pray and eager to assist or to bless or to guide as needed, even in the simplest ways. He's blessed me before when I've come to Him with simple requests, such as for help staying awake in a class, or finding a lost watch or getting along with others. I just need to keep remembering that He's always there and keep involving Him in my daily life.