Scripture: Matthew 6:7-15
Key verse: (11) “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Reflection: According to a recent Harris Poll, the happiness index in our nation for 2016 came in at 31, down from 34 the previous year. What is the happiness index? It is the average of the percentage of Americans who responded “strongly agree” to questions about life satisfaction, or “strongly disagree” to negative questions about discontent in life. So on average, 31% of Americans are happy with their lives. As reported in Time Magazine, women are happier than men, (33 to 29.) People whose annual income between $50,000 and $74,999 are happier than people who earn between $75,000 and $99,999 (32 vs. 30). The South is the happiest region (32), 65+ is the happiest age group (a whopping 37.) Eight questions were asked concerning various areas of life. We are most satisfied with our family life. We are least satisfied with jobs and money. But in every measure it seems the majority of us are not content with our lives.
Jesus offers an antidote to our discontent in The Lord’s Prayer. He calls us to focus first on God —“hallowed be thy name”— and on God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. This moves our focus away from ourselves and from our own feelings of inadequacy that lead us to discontent. He then instructs us to pray for our needs, for daily bread. As Paul says to Timothy, “If we have food and clothing we will be content with these.” (1 Timothy 6:8) We are to remain humble, praying for grace and to extend grace to one another. And we pray to be delivered from trials — perhaps even the trials of negotiating a world that breeds discontent in order to fuel constant desire for more.
Where would you locate yourself in that Harris Poll? In God’s will, in daily bread, in grace received and given, may we be delivered from our discontent to know the joy of life found in God. As Paul said to Timothy, “There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment.” May we know this contentment today.
Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].