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One big ask

12 June 2013

refugee in South Sudan 

Give us today our daily bread. It seems such a simple prayer. But then, the Lord's Prayer has that incredible frankness and simplicity.

The Bible repeatedly tells us not to be afraid to just ask for things - see, for example, John 14:13; 16:24; or 1 John 5:14.

Jesus himself said: 'Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you' (Matthew 7:7). It pays to remember this was Jesus' lesson in how to pray. Ask. Just ask.

For people who not only have daily bread as standard, but daily showers, daily changes of underwear, daily lunch breaks, daily emails, daily probiotic yoghurt drinks, it's hard to get our heads round the whole idea of how big a deal it is, this 'receiving of our daily bread'.

Have we ever been without it? 

  • "Give us today our daily bread" is a massive prayer, a huge, ambitious, daring, faith-driven prayer.'

But the magnitude of bringing food where there is none, and the absolute desperation in the absence of food - the total absence, a reality for more people than we can conceive around the world - turns that simple prayer into a mountain-moving proposition.

Tearfund's international director, David Bainbridge, recalled something recently that he's often heard about in hunger situations, and it sticks like a knife in the heart.

He was talking about what it does to people, and particularly to mothers unable to feed their hungry children.

He said how women have been known to boil pans of water over a fire at bedtime, trying anything to comfort their children, to give them a sense of normality, to create a hope that food might be on its way - even though they know there's nothing - just to help them fall asleep.

He talked about how people resort to eating anything - leaves and roots, nutritionally negligible - because there's nothing else.

He spoke of how seeing children and adults starving is witnessing the body shut down, that spark of life in the eyes fading away. Little children, who should be running around and fidgeting about - like healthy children - are eerily still and immobile, joyless, listless.

'If your vision isn't so big that it scares you, it might just be an insult to God,' says Pastor Steven Furtick, founder of the Elevation Church, North Carolina.

'Give us today our daily bread' is a massive prayer, a huge, ambitious, daring, faith-driven prayer.

It's a monster vision - just like 'Your Kingdom come' or 'Forgive us our trespasses'. And we're asking on behalf of 'us' - the whole, wide, enormous world.

Right now, we need a miracle. The IF campaign needs a miracle - people joining together, stirring the hearts of the G8 leaders, partnering with a God desperate to provide, looking for openings, opportunities.

So let's pray. Let's pray for that daily bread. Let's just keep asking. Jesus tells us to ask for it. We only need to obey.


Father God, we pray for everyone who is hungry today - whether they live thousands of miles away or in our local communities.

We pray urgently for food prices around the world to stabilise and fall, so that more countries do not fall into extreme hunger.

God, we ask for wisdom for leaders and experts working to tackle hunger, and that they would be willing and able to make progress in identifying ways to combat food security issues and help communities adapt to changing weather patterns.

In Jesus' name,

Isobel Peaty, writer on the subjects of justice, poverty and walking with God for Tearfund, and worship leader at St Faith's Church, Brentford.


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