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Faithlife Corporation

Why Pray for Bread

Notes & Transcripts

Franklin and Phileda Nelson served in the country of Burma as missionaries in the 1940's for 8 ½ years before the government made all missionaries leave. While they were in Burma, they worked among remote tribes and knew what it was to desperately depend on God. Franklin, reflecting on his time in Burma, said:

In the Burmese hill country, the only way to get to remote villages was by "shank mare." (That's walking, in case you've never heard the phrase.) It was not at all uncommon for me to walk twenty miles a day in the dry season. When I got back to the States and worked as a pastor and church leader, I rarely walked a mile a day; the telephone and car made walking unnecessary.

In Burma, if one of us got sick, the nearest hospital was ten days away. In the States, medical care is minutes away. In Burma, we'd go months without bread. Once we asked our daughter Karen to say grace before a meal, and she said, "Why do I have to pray for my daily bread when I don't ever get any?"

Franklin went on to speak somewhat wistfully of that experience. He said

I have often coveted that experience for our youngest daughter who never had to wonder where her food came from. It's hard to have that sense of helplessness and humility so vital to prayer when you sit down to your daily bread and don't even think about how you got it.

I don't in any way blame people here for not knowing what God can do. We're victims of our prosperity. But I sometimes wish we had a few more hard times so people could experience firsthand how wonderful it is to be totally dependent on God

You see, God shows up in the lives who get desperate for Him. And when He truly comes, there is an encounter with Him that causes us to see His powerful holiness. He shakes us to our core and brings us to full confession and repentance. That’s the wonder of worship. And flowing out of the wonder of worship, then comes this next ingredient. It is

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