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The Savior continues His Sermon on the Mount through Matthew 6-7 this week. Normally I try to take a couple of verses and create a message around them. However, for this week’s message, I found a theme running throughout many verses that I believe paint a picture of how we should approach our own temporal welfare.
If you combine and thoroughly believe three of the teachings from these chapters, you can find yourself feeling very safe in this world.
The big three – knowledge, power, desire
One of the first things Christ teaches is that Heavenly Father is already aware of what we need.
Matthew 6:8 …for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
So our Father in heaven already knows what we need. In fact, He probably knows what we need better than we know what we need. This principle applies to things both temporal and spiritual, and He can utilize both for our benefit. You don’t have to worry that He might make a mistake providing for you.
A second thing that Christ teaches is the power to provide that our Father in Heaven has.
Matthew 6:33 Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
You are meant to worry about what you’re capable of actually controlling: your willingness to serve God. He will worry about everything else. None of us have the ability to add one cubit to our stature. None of us truly have the ability to provide under every world circumstance. Even with a year’s supply of food and water, you’re still going to find yourself in trouble if there is a nuclear war. All the money in the world will become useless tomorrow if the world “ends” because it’s not edible. Your ability to take care of yourself and those around you is extremely limited.
But our God has the power to take care of everything. Providing for us is so ridiculously simple for Him. It is nothing for Him to give you a bottomless barrel of flour as He did for the widow of Zarephath.
You focus on being willing to serve Him and worry about that, and He will make sure everything else is added to you.
The third thing Christ teaches is that God has the desire to take care of us.
Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
He takes care of the birds and flowers. We are worth much more than either of those creations. He wants to take care of us. He has a desire to do so.
Heavenly Father knows what we need, has the power to provide it, and He wants to give it to us. It’s a perfect combination for feeling safe in a world that feels very unsafe. Think of a baby that needs to be fed. Mom knows the time is coming that the baby will be hungry, mom knows what food the baby needs, mom has the food and ability to give it to the baby, and mom has a desire to help the baby. Because of this, that baby is going to be just fine. Now scale that small example by infinity, and you have God. All of the factors are in place for you to be taken care of in the ways that you need.
Our daily bread
Since we’re talking about Heavenly Father providing for us, let’s talk about the fact that Christ set this example:
Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
What does it look like to pray for your daily bread? This answer is more complicated the longer you look at this verse, and that is because our “daily bread” looks so different person to person. I have come to the conclusion that praying for your daily bread is equivalent to saying, “Please give me what I need on this day to be able to accomplish what You would have me do.”
Even more complicated than that is the diverse ways that Heavenly Father responds. Sometimes He gives us exactly what we want and wish for. Sometimes there is a miracle. Sometimes there is a “lack” of miracle and a lesson. Sometimes there is a back door. Sometimes He is answering that we need to prepare for hard times.
But regardless of how He may answer, I plead with you to ask Him. By sincerely praying (as in, we are listening and the Spirit is guiding us on what to pray for), we are opening the door for Him to help us understand what we need. We are missing out on so much when we do not ask.
When we knew we were leaving Utah for Virginia, I sat down to my little prayer journal and listed everything I wanted in a house. I asked for things that we wanted but didn’t need, and I asked for it to be affordable. When we got to Virginia, we started looking at houses right at the peak of the housing market craziness. I quickly realized that my list was a little outrageous. We spent about three months in a hotel and two months in an apartment when I got a message from a lady in our ward offering to let us stay in her house while they were traveling internationally for a little less than a year. The house she offered came at literally the perfect time, a day before we would have probably decided to move back to Utah. Even beyond that, the house had everything on my list that I had asked for. It was also wildly affordable.
If I had not prayed for those things, I believe we would have still found somewhere affordable to live in the area that we needed to be in. However, I don’t believe we would have had nearly what I had asked for. We would have been just fine if I hadn’t asked. However, Heavenly Father wants to bless us.
On the other end of that spectrum, I think it’s important to note another experience I had. We eventually will no longer be in this house, and we will need a place to stay in. I sat down once again to make a list of things I would like, but I didn’t feel right asking for it. I didn’t feel like I should be asking for all of those things I wanted. Though most people would look at my second experience as unfortunate, we know better. We know that the Lord knows what we need, and with that belief comes a gratitude for whatever He chooses to give.
Regardless of the temporal outcome, I want to draw attention to the fact that the Lord answered. I was blessed in both instances. In the first experience, I was blessed with far more than I thought we could have, and I know it’s because I asked. In the second experience, I was blessed to know that He has something else in mind for now. With that answer, I was given an opportunity to trust Him, feel peace, and know that He is going to give us exactly what we need. I knew He was giving me my daily bread when He answered, “No.”
We are missing out on so much when we don’t pray for our daily bread. There is nuance and intricacy in how the Lord weaves the details of our lives, and we won’t see the half of it if we’re not talking to Him. There are blessings He wishes to send down on us (both in the form of temporal gifts and spiritual assurances) that aren’t coming because we’re not asking. You’re either missing out on blessings or you’re missing out on Him telling you that it’s going to be okay.
So approach your Father in Heaven. Approach Him with your goals and dreams. Tell Him how you picture your life playing out and how you would like to build the kingdom. Ask Him for the temporal blessings and opportunities that will enable you to serve Him. Then trust how He answers you.
Treasures in heaven
There was a time when I was feeling anxious, and my mother reminded me that the Lord takes care of us. Though I believe a great many of us will avoid this kind of hardship, my mind was drawn to the Saints who found themselves trapped in the snow with their handcarts on their way to Utah. It would be easy to say there was no evidence that the Lord was taking care of them, but they knew better than that. One elderly man recalled his time pushing his handcart when he thought he would die; he believed it was a privilege to pay that price to become acquainted with God.
Our personal, daily bread may look bountiful or negligible to the world, but let it be known that the Lord does take care of us. As we come to see the treasures of the earth and the treasures of heaven for what they really are, we will also gain a testimony that the Lord takes care of us.