where religion and politics meet

Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is what one believes about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Countries also have a worldview, a way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Ours used to be Christianity. Now it is secularism, which is practical atheism.

Some of us are trying to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Voting Laws
Letter to the Editor

You recently had an editorial that I thought I should write you and express my appreciation and support for the ideas you presented.  But I hesitated, thinking that you probably get too much mail as it is.  But then it seems a shame to only hear from people when they disagree.    Well, I forgot what that other editorial was about, but I have to respond to this one.
If our state senators think our state needs a constitutional amendment to prevent citizens from being denied the right to vote or register due to some long list of things, then I am very disappointed in my state senators.  What the bleep were they thinking? 
There is nothing going on anywhere that would in any way deny anyone the right to vote.  The wording of this proposed amendment as you frame it uses the word ‘citizens’ which I still take to mean what it has always meant, and that is the only place where challenges are being made. 
But you showed concern because of certain other measures being proposed around the country.
You believe voter ID laws are a hurdle to voting.  You say that 11% of eligible voters don’t have a government issued photo ID, and so we shouldn’t require one.  So how do these people even function in society without them?  Heck, we would be doing them a favor by requiring a photo ID if they really wanted to vote in the first place.  Don’t they drive?  Don’t they have bank accounts?  How do they cash checks? 
You say most of these people without IDs are “those with low incomes, the disabled and the elderly.” 
People with low income need help.  In more ways than one.  I am sure the government is trying very hard to help them with all kinds of assistance, as in money.  Well, how can they cash these checks without a government issued ID? 
As for the disabled, there are two kinds of disabled people: there are those who are pretty well self-sufficient and those who are not.  I have no doubt that those who are self-sufficient would already have IDs, because they know how important they are. 
Those who are dependent on others either are being cared for by those who love them or those who don’t.  If those who are being cared for by those who love them wanted a photo ID so they could vote, I have no doubt that this would be worked out.  If those other disabled people who have no way to get a photo ID, because their caretakers won’t let them or help them, how will they ever vote in the first place? 
As for the elderly, how have they survived this long in this country without a photo ID?  They know better than not to have one.
I would dispute your contention that “no evidence that IDs are needed to prevent voter fraud,” but you seem quite willing to wait until there is evidence of voter fraud before doing anything about it.  Do you really think an election would be held over if fraud was uncovered?  It would be held up in court for years while the wrong person could be serving in office. 
You mention voter drives as well.  Anybody who is interested enough in what is going on and who wants to vote can have no problem registering anytime they want.  Frankly, voter drives only increase the number of registered voters, which to me only makes voter fraud easier, because there are more names on the register of people who are unlikely to vote in the first place. 
Making registering to vote easier will not raise voter turnout and certainly won’t increase the likelihood that the voter knows what’s going on in the first place. 

The banner on your editorial called voting a sacred right.  Sacredness generally implies a certain worthiness on the part of the partaker.  Nobody is asking for anything unusual or burdensome for any potential voter.  But the potential for mischief is great.  Being in Chicago, I am surprised you aren’t questioning more the integrity of the voting process.   Wasn’t it a famous Chicago motto: Don’t forget to vote early and vote often?
Why Obamacare is bad for our country

and what we should do about it

In response to a recent letter:
Those who like Obamacare point out certain benefits to the public and challenge opponents to offer something better.  Part of the problem here is that our government has been creating problems for a long time on the one hand and then offering to address the results of those problems with the other hand but without solving the original problems.  So the solutions they offer wouldn’t have been needed if they hadn’t meddled with things in the first place.  Meanwhile, the solutions they offer add other problems which they will later offer to address, and the cycle is repeated. 
The goal of the whole process is to win elections, and the means to doing so is to identify a group of people in our country and do something for them that will gain their vote.  It doesn’t matter what it costs, how or if they can pay for it, or how it affects anything else.  This group will want this thing enough that they will overlook the bigger picture to support the people who promise them the thing that benefits them in this one particular way. 
With Obamacare, the targeted groups are those with pre-existing conditions, certain people who cannot afford medical insurance, and poor women.  In order to win these groups over, the government is willing to let most people pay substantially more for their insurance, let millions more work fewer hours while still not having insurance, and facilitate employers dropping their health insurance plans thus perpetuating the need for more people to have government assistance to pay for their insurance.
There would seem to be more people adversely affected by Obamacare than those who would gain by it, but this is portrayed as a moral issue that only greedy, selfish people would refuse, and the government hopes to win the others by other programs or mandates to win their support.  Other attempts to win votes without regard for the larger ramifications have included higher minimum wages, equal pay for women, immigration reform, government takeover of the mortgage and student loan industries, unemployment compensation extensions, and calls for early childhood education.
The roots of the problem that prompted the perceived need for Obamacare goes back several decades when our country sent millions of our jobs overseas.  They did this by dropping the tax on imports for more and more countries while taxing our homeland companies through the roof.  So many of them closed their factories here and moved them to foreign countries.
With the loss of so many middle class jobs went also the group medical insurance plans that went with them.  Now any insurance plan is concerned about people who only buy insurance when they are sick, so they generally would have waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, but this is also generally waived when people had continuous insurance coverage prior to enrollment in this new plan. 
Employer-based insurance plans also offer the best rates, because they offer group plans.  There are moves today to disassociate insurance from employment, but I think that is a mistake, because you won’t be able to get individual insurance plans cheaper than a group plan.
So a reader asked four questions to those who oppose Obamacare and expected deafening silence in response:
1)  What is going to happen to all those people who have a pre-existing condition?
Short answer, get a group insurance plan.  You can’t get a group insurance plan?  Then ask your Congressperson and your President why the blank they sent all those jobs overseas.  They called it free trade, but the price for free trade has cost our country trillions of dollars.
2)  What will happen to all those people under 26 who are on Mom or Dad’s policy?
This is not an intrinsic part of Obamacare.  This could be voted on separately if people really want this.  One of the problems with our current lawmaking process is that they combine dozens or hundreds of provisions into one law, and there is no way every point can be debated or discussed. 
But then this was never a serious problem before, because kids either got insurance through their schools or their jobs.  But government has been destroying the job market for a long time. 
3)  What will happen when policy limits are reinstated? 
I think the question refers to the lifetime limits on most insurance policies.  I don’t know how many people ever reach that limit.  If that is a concern for the people, the government could easily offer to subsidize anyone who exceeds their lifetime limit, if necessary.  It would certainly be cheaper than subsidizing millions of policies as Obamacare does now. 
Again, this is another separate issue that Congress could debate that wouldn’t have required an overhaul of our entire health insurance industry to address.
4)  What will happen to people who cannot afford their health insurance?
The first thing to note here is that Obamacare is forcing the costs of health insurance to rise dramatically for everybody, contrary to their promises.  The government is mandating that policies cover things that people don’t want or need.  The only people who are finding their insurance cheap(er) are those for whom the government is paying for most of it.  That means, the government is taking money from other people to pay for it.  Actually what it means is that the government is borrowing money they never expect to pay back to pay for it. 
The government keeps coming up with more and more things that everybody should feel entitled to have and which they are deemed responsible for seeing that they get them.  The reality is there is never enough money to do all that.   Countries can and do go bankrupt, and we are trying real hard to get there.  
Why Terms Limits are Needed

Letter to the Editor 

A reader opposed the push for term limits as just an aid to get Bruce Rauner elected governor and that there is no real need for it, if only voters worked harder to understand the issues and vote the bums out.
I agree that term limits should not be necessary, but our politicians have pretty much rigged the elections by gerrymandering the districts.  Politics is no longer about particular issues but broad political philosophies. 
Half the country believes that government must try to solve all our problems, and the way to do it is to spend more money and make more laws to shape our behavior.  A major result of this philosophy is that more and more people are reliant on the government just to get by.  The government has to borrow trillions of dollars to pay for all these things, and this slowly erodes the life out of the rest of the economy.
The other half believes that the rise of this first view of government has caused a slow, steady decline in our country since then, economically, educationally, and morally. 
And so, because our elections are not set up in a way favorable to more than two parties, and since most people vote these broader party directions, politicians are able to draw voting districts that can generally assure the outcomes of the elections. 

Term limits won’t solve the underlying problems, but it can at least open up the government to more people.  The current system makes it very hard to vote anybody out of office.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The government wants too much of our money.
Letter to the Editor
Chicago Sun-Times

You devoted a lot of space recently to a man advocating higher property taxes for Chicago, because the suburbs have it, and this is good for schools.  Then there was the letter from some school official who said that schools need more money, and the state wants to spend another $6+ billion on schools and make that temporary tax hike permanent.  And, of course, the pension issues are always in the news, about how they need billions more to keep up with their obligations. 
Why doesn’t everybody just give Springfield and Washington our whole damn paychecks, and they can just give us all a living allowance?  With cost of living increases, of course.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the people in this country who are getting screwed are so busy working, there would be riots in the street and sit-ins at every government building in the country.  But trust me, they are getting angry, and there is a limit to their acquiescence.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

1.         Introduction
to "The Importance of the Lord's Prayer"

Having kids is a scary thing, and the first time is the scariest.  I remember the first time I held my oldest son.  His arms were wrapped tightly to his side, and he lay very still.  His eyes were very big, and he hardly blinked at all.  He stared right into my eyes.  It was like he was saying: “Alright, pops, here I am.  So now what are you going to do with me?”
I knew this would be serious stuff, having kids; so every night while my wife was pregnant, I would pray over my wife, putting my hands on her stomach, praying for our unborn child.  After my children were born, I would lay my hands on them every morning before they got up and every night after they went to bed and pray for them.  I prayed for their perfect development, perfect health, protection from sickness and all manner of evil.  I continued this until they started going to bed after I did.  At that point I only prayed for them in the morning in my own prayers. 
It was around the time my first child was born that a pastor named Larry Lea became popular through a book he wrote on prayer: "Could You Not Tarry For One Hour?”  He tried to encourage churches to meet for one hour every morning for prayer.  The Lord's Prayer formed the pattern for their prayers.  That is, they would begin with worship and then move on to a time of reaffirming their commitment to God before they went on to confessions and finally asking for things for themselves.
I never read the book, but I heard about the idea, thought it was a good one, and so I began praying the Lords Prayer every day.  The fact that I was praying for my kids everyday made me think about the need to spend time everyday praying for my daily needs.  Looking back now, I wondered what I did before that.
The more I prayed the prayer and thought about it, the more I saw things that I hadn't seen before and that I never heard anyone else talk about.  Now that can be scary, thinking that you see something that no one else has.  But then, what do you do?  Say that you didn’t see it?   I began to see how really important this prayer is.
Often when people talk about prayer, they would bring up all the stories about times when things didn’t happen the way they prayed.  Prayer seemed a lot like playing the lottery.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you can’t win if you don’t play.  But there was certainly not that much of an expectation that what you would pray for, you could expect to get.  There was always this sense that we don’t know what to ask for, God has other (and better) plans for us, and there are a lot of trials and tribulations that we need to go through first (for our own good, of course).  So we pray and hope that things will turn out better because we prayed.
We know prayer isn’t just about asking for things.  In prayer, we worship God.  We thank Him for everything.  We confess our sins.  And we ask for things.  And we ask for things. (And, yes, I repeated that last sentence.)  Not because we are selfish, though that too.  But we ask, because we are aware of how much life is bigger than we, how little control we actually have over things, over our lives.
The fact is, life is hard.  And we are dealing with a God who is infinite.  By His very nature we are not going to understand everything about Him.  The book of Job is probably the earliest book of the Bible that was written, and no wonder.  The questions the book deals with are the most fundamental of all the questions we have about God.  What do you do when you don’t understand what is happening in your life?  What does God mean to you?  Is He someone who is just supposed to take care of you, or is He someone who is worthy of your worship, your praise, your obedience, your all, even when things are not going your way, when things are going completely out of  control, when you have no idea what the heck is happening in your life?  Can you still love Him when you don’t understand what He is doing or even like what He is doing?  Can you give Him the benefit of the doubt?  Or do you serve Him only because of the benefits? 
It’s like the rich person who doesn’t know who his friends are.  Do they love him for what they hope to get from him, or do they love him for who he is?  God has a bit of the same problem.  God is big and mighty, and those who believe in God can easily look at the sky or a mountain and recognize the glory of God and acknowledge the greatness of God. 
But recognizing God’s power and majesty and being in awe of them does not mean that you actually love God.  God’s greatness can instill a sense of awe and wonderment, even a sense of fear.  You recognize your smallness in His presence and that He is the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe.  So you worship God.  You offer Him your praise.  How can you not? 
But do you love Him?  Do you actually like Him?  Can you trust Him with your life?  Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden couldn’t even do that.  God said not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and they did anyway.  They believed that God was holding back on them.[1]
Job could not understand what was happening in his life, things were falling apart, and his friends concluded that surely Job had done something that made God respond in displeasure to punish him.  But Job felt that he certainly was no worse than anyone else, and people far worse than he were not experiencing such tragedy.  So what is going on?
 In the end of the book, God finally spoke.  But He didn’t answer Job’s questions.  Basically He just reaffirmed the fact that human beings will never understand everything that God does.  At some point you are just going to have to trust Him.
The point is that, when we pray, or anything else that we do, we are dealing with only one small part of the universe.  Job never found out apparently, but the readers of the book did, that there are unseen spiritual forces at work in the world that have a major influence on our lives down here.
So when we talk about prayer, I think we need to be careful about thinking that we have all the answers, that we have all the loose ends tightly wrapped up, and that we have covered all the contingencies. We like to think in terms of formulas.  We like to have things simple:  Give me a rule, something to do, a program, 3 easy steps.
I like to think of the analogy of a sports team.  I remember the Chicago Bulls basketball team when they were at their best.  They set a record of 72 wins in one season.  I believe the old record was 69 or even 70.  This is truly an amazing accomplishment.  But do you know what?  That still means that they lost 10 times that year. 
I remember watching the 1985 Chicago Bears.  Myself, I don’t like close games.  I don’t like games where the outcome is undecided until the final few seconds.  I feel like someone is about to rip my heart out.  It was fun to watch the Bears either dominate their opponents or rally from a big deficit and come storming back to win. 
But I remember quite well that one Thursday night they played Miami and they were thoroughly whipped.  What happened there?  It turned out to be their only loss that year.  Even in the playoffs, they played 3 games and won them decisively.  In those 3 games their opponents were able to score only 10 points. 
Why I am talking about sports and prayer?  Because I believe life can teach us many things about God.  When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, He usually used parables, stories.  He would say that the Kingdom of God is like a woman baking bread, like a tree, like seed, like a pearl of great price. 
And prayer is a lot like sports.  Even the best teams never win all their games.  The best teams can even lose a lot of games.  But the best teams always win most of their games. The best teams may fall behind during many of their games, but they never give up and usually they can come back and win. 
So I would never say that this book or this prayer will solve all your problems, answer all your questions, or keep you from having any more problems the rest of your life.  What it will do is turn a losing season into a winning one, a losing team into a winning team.  It will give you tools and a direction.  It will make a significant, noticeable difference in your life.  It will encourage you in your prayer life and motivate you to pray more and more, because you will know that prayer really does change things.
One of the biggest difficulties with prayer, I believe, is knowing what to pray for.  On the one hand, we are often told to be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.  We are warned often about the need to seek God’s will and that if something isn’t His will, either we won’t get it anyway, or worse yet He might actually give it to us, and then we would be in trouble. 
But yet, on the other hand, we are told to pray in faith, and not to doubt.  In the book of James, we are told to pray in faith, nothing doubting, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, tossed about by the wind, and that that person should not expect to receive anything from God.[2]
But how can you have faith for something if you don’t know what God’s will is?  I think too often we act like there is no real pattern to God.  One day or in one case He might want one thing, and then the next day or in the next case, He might want something totally different. 
We talk about how we know people, our spouses, our kids, our friends.  If someone told us something about our spouse, I think most of us would be able to tell right away if the thing were true or at least consistent with their personality.  God gave us a Book to tell us what He is like as well as coming in the form of a Human Being Himself.  If you wanted to communicate with the ants that are crawling on the sidewalk outside your house, you would need to become an ant yourself.  So God took on the form of a man, the man Jesus, to show us what He is like.
So we have a written word and the Living Word (Jesus) to tell us and to show us what God is like.  We have often watched people and we may see the things they do, but we never really know them until they tell us what they are doing and why, what are they thinking.  So too God has to tell us what He is like and explain the way He works in the world. 
Obviously there is a limit to what we can understand and know.  But still, if we are to know Him, there must be some pattern to His behavior, some consistency so that we might know what to expect.  Otherwise we realize we don’t know Him at all. 
How many times have we heard of someone telling another person, “I don’t know you at all.”  They did something so unlike what we expected that we realized that they could do a lot more things just like that.
            So too with God.  We Christians talk about having a personal relationship with God, yet so often we have no idea from one day to the next just what we might expect from Him.  Yes, like Job, we realize this gap between the finite people we are and the infinite God that He is, but far too often we act like we know nothing at all about God
How many times in the Gospels did Jesus chide His disciples or the people in general because they had no faith?  They worried about food and clothing, and Jesus says they were people of little faith.[3]  They forgot to bring food and were concerned about that, and Jesus said they had little faith.[4]  They were in a boat close to sinking in a storm and Jesus asks them: “Where is your faith?”[5]
Faith in these contexts means nothing if a person had no reason to believe that God would take care of them.  And how would they know, apart from God somehow telling them that, yes, He would take care of their food and clothing.  You can’t believe that God will do anything, unless He first says that He would. 
Reading through the Gospels, having no or little faith was the one thing that bothered Jesus the most in His dealings with His disciples.  He actually expects us to read the Bible and to gain information about God and how He deals with human beings so that we can believe that He will do a certain thing.
I know this can cause some hesitancy in people.  We are afraid of becoming too certain of what God wants to do in our lives.  Sometimes things may appear contrary, and we think that if we say something is or isn’t God’s will, we are being impudent and rash, thinking that we can tell God what to do. 
            But it is this uncertainty which brings God’s displeasure more than our certitude.  It is this uncertainty which brings fear, and worry, and anxiety.  When people worry about having food and clothing, is it not because they are not sure that God will take care of them?  And if they are not sure, how can they have faith that God will?  The fact is that life often brings people into situations where indeed it looks like they might not have food or clothing. 
So when Jesus says that we should consider the lilies of the field and so trust God to take care of our needs,[6] all this means nothing if life doesn’t often look like our needs won’t be met.  What is faith anyway?  You see a situation and it looks bleak.  When things look bad, what do we do?  We worry; we become afraid; we get sad, depressed, and angry.  Now how does faith change any of this?  If we don’t know or believe or think that God will change the situation, what happens?  Nothing.  We still have our worry, fear, sadness, depression, and anger. 
But isn’t faith in God just trusting God, without knowing the outcome?  So going back to what Jesus said about the lilies of the field, if we don’t know whether God will provide our food and clothing, what do we do when it looks like we might not have food and clothing?  Can we actually not be anxious, not knowing whether God will provide or not? So if God actually said to you, “Okay, you are on your own here.  I won’t provide your needs.  You will need to just hope for the best like the heathen.”  Do you mean you could do that without fear and anxiety? 
The fact is we do have expectations of God, vague images based on countless sermons and Sunday School lessons that give us some sense of a God who cares.  Our problem is just that: they are vague images.  And too often when we get in a tough spot, we have no idea just what we can actually believe that God will do.  No, He probably won’t let us starve to death, but hasn’t He been known to do that before?
I am suggesting that Jesus, when He taught His disciples this prayer, what we call the Lord’s Prayer, intended to give them information about God that they could take to the bank, information that they could use in times when things look bleak and the natural human response is to be afraid, to worry, and even to become depressed as hope slowly dissolves. 
We know from the story of Job that we are supposed to love and serve God apart from any rewards or other benefits, because it is the right thing to do.  But does that mean that whenever God does anything for us, it is to be totally unexpected, like winning the daily Lotto, or seeing a parking space right in front of the store, or finding a dollar bill in the street.
The fact is that in many places in the Bible God actually makes a covenant with His people, where He tells them what He will do for them and what He wants us to do for Him.  The problem here, of course, is that we always see our part as something unattainable, as keeping all His commandments (who can do that?), or there is the stipulation that something must be in accordance with His will, and who knows what that is? 
If you want to build a house, you start with a foundation and build the walls brick by brick.  We may not know and understand everything about God, but that does not mean that we cannot know and understand some things about God.  We need to start somewhere, and I think the Lord’s Prayer is a good place to start.
First of all, we have Jesus Himself speaking to us.  And secondly, He is specifically addressing the question of how to pray.  And prayer is that area in which we are dealing with reality as we see it and the reality that we hope to see. 
I think too often in our desire to be humble and teachable, we are afraid to think we have ever learned anything.  Either we live in fear, or we live in confidence.  To live in confidence, we need a level of certainty.  To have any kind of certainty about God, we need to go to the Bible and ask: what does it say?  We may not understand everything, but we need to start somewhere.  And when we find something that we understand and believe, we need to hold on to that, because as sure as anything, a circumstance will rise in your life which will challenge you and deny that.  And you have to decide what is true: The Word of God or how things appear to you.  We need to ask ourselves: just what do I know about God?  And what exactly does that mean in this situation?
Many of us have lost any sense of boldness in our relationship with God, because we have come to associate that with presumption.  We have no faith to move mountains, because we are never sure if God really wants that mountain to be moved.  We have lost much of our joy in God, because we have lost our sense of His will in our lives.  We never know what He wants for us anymore.  The only pattern to His will is that there is no pattern. 
I believe our look at the Lord’s Prayer will change all of this.  There is a pattern to God’s will.  God’s will is certainly far more knowable than we are acknowledging.  But we have a responsibility to lay hold of this.  It’s like God is the utility company that provides our house with gas or electricity or water, but we have to plug in the appliances or turn on the heat before we will see the power work in our lives.
We often talk about how God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts; how as far as the heaven is above the earth, so His thoughts are above ours, and His ways above our ways.[7]  And we understand this to mean that we can never be sure what God might want in a situation, because He is so vastly different from us.
Yet that is precisely the reason that we have the Bible and why Jesus came to us in the flesh: to tell us and to show us what God is like.  No, we will not know and understand everything about what God is like or what He wants to do, but there is certainly a lot that we can know.  And God expects us to know it and to act on it. 
There will be a test and frequent pop quizzes.  So like the disciples, let us ask Jesus to teach us to pray.

[1] Genesis 2,3
[2] James 1:5-8
[3] Matthew 6:25-33
[4] Matthew 16:5-12
[5] Luke 8:22-25
[6] Matthew 6:25-33
[7] Isaiah 55:8,9
2.         Teach Us To Pray
            He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." [1] 

Have you ever asked anyone to teach you how to do something?  Being a man I can admit to a little reluctance at times in asking for help, at least until I have tried to do it myself.  There are some things, though, that I have just looked at and said: “There is no way I can do this on my own.  I need someone to walk me through this.”  It’s not that I am stupid.  It’s just that there is only so much time in life to do everything that we want and need to do.   It's like reinventing the wheel.  I am sure a lot of us can do it, but why?  The faster we can learn the things that others know, the more time that leaves us to do the things we want to do.
            So back to our question: have you ever asked someone to teach you how to do something?  Sometimes we don’t want to admit we don’t know how.  We are afraid that people will think less of us.  We want others to admire, respect, and love us.  It’s easy for some of us to feel like others will love us less because we don’t have all the answers or we are not as smart as we would like them to think we are.
            Let me ask a different question: do you know how to pray?   “What kind of question is that?” you might say.  I am sure many of us would think: “What is there to learn?  Isn’t prayer just talking to God, like a child to a father?” 
Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.    And He does.  And by doing so, He forces every one of us essentially to rethink everything we think we know about God and prayer.
This raises questions that go to the very heart of our faith.  Isn’t prayer just talking to God?  What is there to learn?  And what difference does it make if a person is taught or not taught how to pray?  Will God answer more prayers of the person who has been taught how to pray than of the person who has not been taught? 
But what made them think in the first place that they even needed to be taught?  Yes, the passage says that John the Baptist taught his disciples how to pray.  But that still does not answer what made them think they needed to be taught how to pray.  The only answer seems to be that they could see things change as a result of Jesus’ prayers. 
I know there is a lot of talk today about how prayer changes us, and that is the reason we should pray.  But if you go through the prayers of the Bible, you might be hard pressed to find a prayer where someone didn’t ask for something.  And the people who didn’t get what they prayed for were considered sinners and the like.[2]  I would go so far as to say that asking for things is at the heart of prayer, and that the idea of praying just to change ourselves is a very modern concept. 
In fact, in the Old Testament one of the recurring problems that existed was idolatry.  And God, speaking through the prophets, often mocked those who worshipped idols and mainly for the reason that the idols could not deliver their people in a time of trouble.[3]  The idols could not answer prayer.  They could not help the person who prayed.  The idea that the chief benefit of prayer is changing ourselves is something foreign to the Biblical writers. 
The Bible talks about people worshipping God, offering sacrifices, and singing songs of praise to Him.  But it does not call these things prayer.  These same people may have begun their prayers with worship and confession, but they always ended them by asking God for something.  And if there is a rare case when they don’t, then it is just that, a rare case. 
Six times in the Gospel of Luke prior to this question by the disciples, it talks about Jesus praying.  Once the heavens open up, and once Jesus is transformed into a shining figure and famous people from the past appear with Him.[4]  If indeed the disciples wanted to pray like Jesus just to change themselves, what they were trying to change themselves into was certainly far more than what we might expect today.  Jesus wasn’t just a nicer, kinder person than they.  He lived and moved and taught in the power of the Holy Spirit;[5] and when He called the disciples to follow Him, he performed a miracle that prompted them to leave everything immediately and to follow Him.[6]
            So why did they ask Him how to pray?  What made them think they needed to be taught?   Do you need to be taught how to pray?  Isn’t prayer just talking to God anyway? 
Let’s just say that in 90% of the prayers that people pray, they ask for something.  And this is not a bad thing.  The prayer that Jesus taught the disciples has petitions.  The whole thing is petitions, unless you regard the first few statements in the Lord’s Prayer as pronouncements.  So at least half of the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples (us) to pray is petitions, asking God for things.
So what if we never learned how to pray?  Say we go through our whole life never stopping to ask if prayer is something we need to learn.  And, even if we do take a class or two on prayer, sometimes people don’t learn their lessons well, right?  At least that’s the way the schools I went to were.
So the question is, does it make a difference?  And what difference would that be?  If half or more of all prayer involves going to God asking for His help, and we need to be taught how to do this, will that affect how God answers these prayers?  Will we receive the same things anyway, or will what we receive from God in answer to our prayers be affected by how well or if we have learned how to pray?
After all, what would be the point of teaching them, if it didn’t make any difference?  And if it does make a difference, how might this affect how we interpret the answers or non-answers to our prayers?  Might we have expected different results?
Imagine two people, John and Mary, who are in pretty much similar circumstances.  It could be the same illness, or both of them are out of work with families to support.  Whatever.  If two people have as much in common as they possibly can, and the only difference is that one person has been taught how to pray and the other has not, and they both pray for the same thing, will it make any difference ? 
And if then the one person, who had not been taught how to pray, learns how to pray and goes back to God, should we expect a difference? 
I wonder how many people pray and when they get their answers or non-answers say that this must be what God wanted for them in their lives, but if they had only known that they needed to be taught how to pray, they might have had a very different outcome.  How many things might people call God’s will when, if they had been taught how to pray, the outcome might have been different?
            Now frankly, I know this is not the kind of stuff people like to hear.  We believe that God is a merciful God and that His grace, His unmerited favor, flows down on all of us.  And if something happens or doesn’t happen to us or for us, it must have been His will.  Yet, the disciples who spent more time in close, intimate contact with Jesus, the Son of God, felt that they needed to be taught how to pray.  And He taught them.  He did not say that they would learn as they went along, or learn from their experiences. 
We want to shy away from any kind of responsibility for what happens in our lives.  We are always quick to say that something must have been God’s will.  The fact is: life is hard.  We all experience things that we can’t understand why a loving God would allow it.  And, unlike Job’s friends, we don’t want to be too quick in pronouncing in any situation why things happened the way they did.  Too much of the time we just don’t know enough.
But then, on the other hand, I think it is dangerous to be so quick in saying that something is God’s will just because it happened.  For that matter, every rotten thing that ever happened in the world, from the Holocaust to starving children to terrorist bombings has been allowed by God.  The fact that God allows something has nothing to do with whether this is what God wants.
If everything that is, is allowed by God, then does that make it the will of God?  Then why pray at all, but if not to change some things?  And if things can be changed because we perceive they need be, how are they changed but by prayer?  Then does it now follow that if we need to be taught how to pray, that if we are not taught, things may not change as they might otherwise?
Have you ever been blamed for something that you didn’t do?  Maybe at work something went wrong and it wasn’t your fault, but you were fired anyway?  Maybe at school somebody didn’t like you and they made up a story that got you into trouble?  I wonder how many times something goes wrong and people say it is God’s will, and they are doing the same thing to God.  I can imagine God wanting to say, “Hey, I didn’t want that to happen.” 
At this point, the theologians among us will step in and tell us about the sovereignty of God and the providence of God.  But what exactly are they trying to say: that everything that happens is God’s will?  God is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance,[7] and He desires that all men be saved.[8]  Yet people do perish, and there are men who are not saved. 
I think we often misunderstand the concepts.  If prayer doesn’t change things, then the Bible must be wrong.  And if we need to be taught how to pray, then, if we are not taught how to pray, things may not change like they could have.. 
Is everything that happens what God wants to happen?  If they were, then there would never be any reason to pray for anything different, would there?  And does prayer change things?  The Bible certainly shows many, many instances where it does. 
Then, the question is, does it matter how I pray?  I certainly don’t want to say that, if you do this formula, say your prayers this way, God will suddenly hear them and is bound to answer them the way you ask. 
But we have to go back to the original question.  Do we need to be taught how to pray? We don’t have all the answers.  None of us does.  But the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  If prayer changes things, and it does, then we have to conclude that if we learn how to pray, prayer, our prayers, will change things more, or differently, or better, or something.
When things are going well in your life, you have a job you like, the kids are not in trouble, everyone is healthy, it is easy to say that all is right with the world.  But if you start looking around, you soon see that there are a lot of things in the world that are broken, that need to be changed.  You can work to do that, and you can pray to do that.  Ask Jesus to teach you how.
            Over the years I have done a lot of teaching in churches.  And I have asked the question:  can I actually be teaching if there is no learning taking place?  So often in churches, I have gotten the impression that we already know everything we need to know.  We just need to be reminded of it.
            I believe there is still a lot that most of us need to learn.  And for learning to take place, either of two things needs to take place.  Either we say: “I don’t know,” or “I was wrong.”  Hard things for any of us to say.
            But the disciples came to Jesus and said: “Teach us to pray.”  We too need to be taught, and the Lord’s Prayer is the place to begin.

[1] Luke 11:1
[2] Psalm 18:41, 66:18, Proverbs 1:24-28, 21:13
[3] Psalm 115, Isaiah 44:6-20. 46:5-7
[4] Luke 3:21, 6:12, 6:28, 9:18, 9:28, 11:1
[5] Luke 4:14
[6] Luke 5:1-11
[7] II Peter 3:9
[8] I Timothy 2:4
3.         Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
   Luke 11:3
If God told you to do something and you didn’t do it, would it matter?  Would everything continue on as if He had never told you?  Would it make a difference?
When we were growing up, prayer was often described to us as just talking to God.  And, of course, listening to Him.  Many times our prayers are all one-sided.  We do all the talking, and if God wanted to say something back to us, He wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise.  We finish and say “Amen” and then we go on our way.
            But here we are finding that Jesus is teaching us how to pray.  Prayer is not just something that we can do spontaneously, though at times we certainly can, but it is and cannot be just that.  Jesus is teaching us that there are some things that we need to pray for specifically everyday.   One of these things is our daily bread. 
            Did you pray for your daily bread today?   And what if you didn’t?   Will you still get it?  And if you didn’t get it, would that have been God’s will for your life?
            When you pray, what do you pray for?   I think most of us pray for needs, our needs, our kids’ needs, our neighbor’s needs, the needs of the world.  The difference here is that He is telling us to pray for something before it actually becomes a need.  He is telling us to pray for something that most of us probably don’t even think about. 
            But let’s first ask the question: what is our daily bread?  We use the expression to refer to our daily needs, but we get that idea from this passage.  But what did it mean back when Jesus first used it, and where did the expression come from?
Let’s look first at some of the things that the Bible talks about when it refers to bread.  First, there is, of course, literal food, and, by extension, clothing.  In the same context where Jesus talked about prayer and gave this Lord’s Prayer,[2] He talks about how God takes care of birds and wild flowers and how much more He will take care of us. 
We shouldn’t worry about food and clothing, because God cares about us more than the birds of the air, which don’t even sow, or reap, or gather into storehouses.  He feeds them, and He will take care of us as well.
In another context, Jesus calls Himself “the Bread of life.”   The person who comes to Him shall never hunger and the one who believes in Him shall by no means ever thirst,[3]  and then again shortly after: the living Bread come down from heaven, which we must eat to gain eternal life.[4]   What is significant in both passages is the use of the present participles.  It is quite common to speak of faith in Jesus as an event that has happened in the past.  We say that we have believed in Christ, and therefore we are now saved.  But the emphasis here is on the present state of the person who is doing the believing.  As this person is believing in Jesus, they are finding that they are not hungering or thirsting.  This is a state of continual coming and receiving from Jesus. 
I have heard Christians speak of dry seasons, or times when God seems so far away from them.  That seems contrary to the tone of these passages.  If we are in a “dry” spell, it would seem that we are hungering and thirsting.  Jesus says that would never happen to those who are continually coming and believing and feeding on Him, the living Bread from heaven. 
Jesus tells us that everyday we are to ask God for our daily bread.  This includes then the comfort and presence of Jesus in our lives.  Everyday, in the morning, we come and receive our daily bread of Jesus in our lives. 
There is something else here that bears comment.  It is common to hear in churches that we cannot tell God what to do, that some Christians act as if God had to answer their prayers a certain way and in a certain time frame.  We can only ask of God, not demand, always sensitive to His will, which may or may not grant whatever it is that we ask.
There is one slight problem with this.  Note the petition that Jesus tells us to pray here: Give us this day our daily bread.  If this is a request, how does it differ from a command?  The verb form is called a present active imperative.  And this is the form of a command.  Certainly we don’t want to say that we are commanding God.  However, if God, or Jesus, tells us to pray for a certain thing, first of all, that means that that thing is God’s will for us to have in our lives.  So it means that He intends to grant us that petition.  Asking generally implies the possibility that the request will not be granted.  But this petition will be granted.  We are told to pray for it, so it must be God’s will, and so He will do it.   So the petition is not “please may I,”  “please would you,” “if you please,” or even, “if it be Your will,” but “give us this day.”   Saying “thank you” goes without saying.
This is a prayer with immediate results, as far as prayer goes.  Some prayers take years to see the fruits, but here God is telling us that help is here today for us.
There is another meaning to the idea of bread.  In the book of Sirach,[5] wisdom is described as feeding a person with “the bread of understanding[6]” and “the water of wisdom.”[7]   Elsewhere in the New Testament, wisdom is spoken of as something that we are encouraged to ask for if we need it,[8] and we should be assured that God will give it to us, but we do need to ask in faith, which in that context means, believing that He will give it to us when we need it.
So when Jesus said we should ask God everyday for our daily bread, was He thinking of wisdom as well?  I would have to say yes.   When James spoke of asking for wisdom, it is clear that he is not thinking of wisdom as something that we ask for early in life, God grants it, and we are set.  But it is wisdom that we need as we encounter things in life that we don’t understand or don’t know the best course of action in a situation.   So too, Jesus would see wisdom as something that we constantly seek and receive from God.
My wife was just talking to me yesterday about Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, yet he still disobeyed God on some matters that he should have known about.  How can this be?  One explanation can be that he saw wisdom as something that he had achieved rather than as something to be daily appropriated from God, like manna from heaven, our daily bread.
There is another time in the Gospels that Jesus spoke of bread referring to something other than literal bread.[9]   A woman had a daughter who was demon possessed.[10]  She came to Jesus seeking deliverance for her, and Jesus spoke of that deliverance as bread belonging to the people of God.   A case could be made that this could apply to all physical healing.[11]   I won’t press the case here, because that is too big of a subject, but I would certainly include health as one of the things included under daily bread.  Too many of us see a few times in the Bible where someone was sick or had a “thorn in the flesh” and then overlook all the healing that Jesus and the Apostles did, and say that those were the exception rather than the rule of how God wants to work.  But that’s another and very large subject.[12]  But Jesus called the deliverance of this woman’s daughter “the bread of the children.”[13]  
There is one other time in the Bible where bread is used in a metaphorical way that I think Jesus also had in mind when He spoke of our daily bread.  There is an expression: “Cast your bread upon the waters.”[14]   Commentators have suggested different ways to interpret this, but I think that most have now reached the conclusion that the best way to understand the expression is that it is speaking of generosity.  Casting bread on the waters is a dispensing of what one has to others or in good causes without having as a motive any immediate, tangible return.  The verse continues: “for you will find it in many days.”
So how would this apply to the Lord’s Prayer?   If we are to cast our bread upon the waters and then ask God everyday for our daily bread, it would seem to be a general catch-all expression for all that you have that you might give to others, including but not limited to material possessions.  It could refer to time, talent, and energy.  I think we can understand it as general well-being in every way: emotionally, socially, and financially. 
If the fruit of the Spirit is love; joy, and peace;[15] and the joy of the Lord is our strength;[16] and God cares for us like a father his own children;[17] and He gives what we ask Him for in the same way we would give to our own children;[18] then when Jesus tells us how to pray and says that we should ask God everyday for our daily bread, and this is essentially all we are asking as something that God actually “gives” to us, then I would say that everything that contributes to our entire well-being is included in our daily bread.
A few questions to ask at this point are: when we ask for our daily bread, 1) do we need to be aware of all these implications when we ask, or 2) do we need to be more specific when we ask in order to cover all these other things?  Answer:  Jesus is teaching us to pray, so, yes, first of all, if we are not aware of all that we are asking for, we will not be expecting to receive more that what we are thinking we are asking for.  Will that make a difference?  I think so.  Like James said, when we ask for wisdom, we must ask in faith, nothing doubting, otherwise we will not receive it.[19]  So, if we are not expecting to receive anything more than what we are thinking we are asking for, will we receive the rest?  I would say, don’t count on it.
            But when Jesus spoke about daily bread, there is no doubt in my mind that He was thinking of an experience in the life of the ancient Israelites, when they were traveling from Egypt to their new home in Canaan, modern day Israel.[20]   They numbered over a million, and they were traveling through a wilderness.  And God miraculously provided food for them for 40 years.  Everyday, before the sun got hot, there would be a flake-like substance on the ground, like dew.  They called it ‘bread from heaven,” or manna.
            The Israelites were to go out everyday before the sun got hot and gather what they would need for the day.  If they tried to save some for the next day, it would rot.  It was only good for the one day - except when the Sabbath came, their day of rest.  They were to gather double on the day before, and what was left over would keep for the next day, so they would not have to go out and gather on their day of rest.
            The reason for all this was that God wanted to test the people, whether or not they would walk in His law[21]  And when the people had trouble following these instructions, some of them went out on the Sabbath looking for manna, and God asked Moses: “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?”[22]
            Now if the people overslept in the morning and went out later in the day to gather it, it would be gone.  Everyday, early in the day, they had to go our and gather their daily bread.  God wanted them to have it, but they had to go out and get it.  Everyday.  Early in the day.  Before the sun got hot.  And if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have any.
            I think it is interesting to note that those who gathered little did not run out, and those who gathered much did not have any left over.  But, again, those who didn’t gather any didn’t have any, and it wasn’t because God didn’t want them to have any..
            So when Jesus tells us that we should pray: “Give us this day our daily bread,” we have some idea what this looks like.  Everyday, before the sun gets hot, we should go to God and ask for what we need for the day.  
Over the years I have come to the point where I do this as early in the morning as I can.  I have learned that I am dependent on God for everything and that everything that we have is fragile and temporary.  I have learned also to become very specific in my prayers.
            Not only do I pray specifically for my family members, I pray for our house and everything in it, on it, and about it.  I pray for our cars and everything we own.  Why?  When I first started doing this, when things went wrong, I often found that I had not specifically prayed for that particular thing, so I began including these things as well.
I know this can sound strange, legalistic to some, burdensome to others.  I am just telling you my experience here.  The fact still remains that Jesus tells us that we are supposed to pray everyday  for our daily bread.  And as my prayer has grown longer and longer, I am becoming more and more aware not only of my utter dependence on God but also of my part in seeing God’s will done on earth.  If my prayers have this much difference on the things that I can see everyday, I can take great encouragement that my prayers can make a great difference in so many other matters in which I don’t have any daily feedback on the progress or outcome.
 Does all this mean that nothing goes wrong anymore?  Not exactly.  But I will say emphatically that it has made a difference like night and day.
            No, this is not the answer to all of your problems.  On the one hand, I will say that there has been such a noticeable difference that I won’t miss starting a day covering all that I have and care about with specific prayer for our daily bread. 
            But life is bigger than you and I, and there are still things that we won’t understand.  In 1992 I was out of work for much of the time.  I had lost a job that I had had for 15 years due to downsizing and the rest of the year I was only able to find temporary and part-time jobs.  That year our refrigerator went out, our television, our dishwasher, our oven, our disposal unit, and there were a few other major unexpected expenses that I don’t remember right now as well.  We didn’t have a lot of disposable income, but I made it a point to upgrade wherever I could.  A larger refrigerator, a larger television. 
When you have built a foundation where you see God providing for you, when things do get rough, you don’t start blaming God or wondering where He went.  You see it as a time to upgrade, to trade in your old for something better.  Even maybe at a time when you might not think you can afford it.
            The point is, when you start praying for things everyday, you will find that fewer things will need repair, fewer people will get sick, fewer things will go wrong.  But like Job never found out, there are factors working to influence our lives that we will never know about. 
I should say also that sometimes when you start on a new program like this, you may find a rash of things going wrong right at the start.  Don’t panic.  That’s like the first time you clean out your cellar.  You find all kinds of things in there that may need to be gotten rid of, but as you go down there more often, the place is cleaner and cleaner.
            But the next question is: so what if you didn’t pray for your daily needs today?  What if you never do?  Does it make a difference?   
Remember, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.  And He does.  He agrees that prayer is something that needs to be taught.  And what’s the point of teaching something if it doesn’t make any difference whether you learn it or not?  Whether you do it or not?  Does it make a difference if you don’t pray for your daily bread?  Unquestionably, yes.
Now many of us who will read this live in a prosperous nation.  We will not starve if it doesn’t rain for a month.  We have enough material things that, apart from some major tragedy, we don’t worry much about our daily needs.  The question is: do you want to wait until such time that that may happen, or will you do what Jesus says and come to God every morning asking for your daily provisions?    Do we need to wait until our world falls in before we learn that our lives are not our own, that most of life is out of our control, that we are indeed dependent on God for everything we have?
So, for most of us, if we don’t pray for this, we may not see much of a difference.  At least right away.   I certainly did.  But let’s say we don’t pray for it.  Today, or any day.  Does it matter?  If Jesus tells you to pray for something, whatever it is, and you don’t, will it make a difference?  Will you still get what you were supposed to ask for?  And if you didn’t, would that have been God’s will for your life?  After all, He did tell you to pray for these things in the first place.
Living in modern Western civilization, we can prosper materially and physically without even seeing any relation to God’s active provision for our lives.  One problem then is that we judge our blessing from God on the basis of things that we can see and touch and not even notice the state or progress of our spiritual, emotional, and mental lives.  So, no, whether or not God blesses us may not be as extreme as the situation of the Israelites where, if they did not physically gather their manna for that day, they did not have any.  Our refrigerators will still have the food that we left in there last night. 
So many of us may not notice any immediate changes from one day to the next or some of us who have not prayed this may not even see it as necessary.  But then, I am not suggesting that you try this.  I am just saying that any person who believes in prayer needs to be aware that prayer is something that you need to be taught how to do.  And Jesus, the Person who is the Teacher, says that everyday you need to pray for your daily bread. 
When God created the world, I suppose theoretically He could have created it far different than He did.  Theoretically, He could have created a world that could have procreated without sex, a world without families, without genders, without germs.  A world where knowledge was innate, where you did not have to learn a skill, where you did not have to eat to live, yet alone eat right.  Where you could eat all the junk food you wanted.
Why am I saying this?   God created the physical as a reflection of the spiritual.  We have children; God has children.  We have spouses; the Church is the Bride of Christ.  We learn spiritual truths often by observing physical truths.  This is one reason that, when Jesus taught, He used parables (“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a sower, like a pearl of great price, like a merchant, . . . ).  And one thing we learn from life is that all substantial growth takes time, that people learn and develop as they build piece upon piece, brick upon brick.  As they practice and practice, they gain skills. 
So, it is as we pray daily for our daily bread that we grow and develop into the spiritual people that God intends for us to be.  It is the daily prayer for our daily bread that builds up our lives that we can share them with others and become the all-around healthy prosperous people that God wants us to be.
So one last question here: if you didn’t pray for your daily bread today, and you didn’t receive it, would that be God’s will for your life?  If Jesus told you to pray for it, that must mean that God wants you to do it.  And if He wants you to do it, it must be His will.  And why would He want you to pray for something, if it didn’t matter whether you prayed for it or not?  So it must matter.  So if you don’t pray for it, and you don’t receive it, that must not be God’s will for you. 
There are entire books written on things like the sovereignty of God, and we are always told that nothing can come to us except it be approved by our loving, heavenly Father.  I think that often we confuse the issues here.  First, God has allowed every rotten thing that has ever happened in the world: all the wars, all the diseases, all the famines and natural disasters.  So the fact that something happens means that God allowed it, but I would be very hesitant to conclude that it must have been God’s will.  At least not in the way we like to use the expression.  We use the phrase to say that something is what God wants to happen for us and to us.  If we don’t do what God tells us to do and consequently something either happens or doesn’t happen because of that, can we say that this was God’s will?
This question relates closely to what we will look at in the next chapter, so we will look at it there a little more. 
But regardless.  Everyday.  Before the sun gets hot.  Go to God for your daily bread.  I used to do it while I was still in bed.  Now that I am starting work at six in the morning, I do it in the car on the way to work.  But I do it everyday.  As early as I possibly can.  First things first.

[1] Give us this day our daily bread.
[2] This prayer is found twice in the Gospels.   This reference is to Matthew 6.
[3] John 6:30-35       So they said to Him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?   Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, —He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"   Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.   For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world."  They said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."  Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.    John 6:35 eiåpen au)toiÍj o( ¹Ihsou=j, ¹Egw¯ ei¹mi o( aÃrtoj th=j zwh=j: o( e)rxo/menoj pro\j e)me\ ou) mh\ peina/sv, kaiì o( pisteu/wn ei¹j e)me\ ou) mh\ diyh/sei pw¯pote.
[4] John 6:58     This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers  ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever ouÂto/j e)stin o( aÃrtoj o( e)c ou)ranou= kataba/j, ou) kaqwÜj eÃfagon oi¸ pate/rej kaiì a)pe/qanon: o( trw¯gwn tou=ton to\n aÃrton zh/sei ei¹j to\n ai¹w½na.
trw¯gw   (tro’ – go) strictly crunch; literally, of animals gnaw, nibble; of human beings eat, take food, partake of (a meal) (MT 24.38); idiomatically trw¯gein tino/j ton aÃrton literally eat someone's bread, i.e. be a close companion (JN 13.18); figuratively and as a religious technical term, of deriving benefit from Christ's atoning death benefit from, partake of (JN 6.54-58)

[5] It’s a debatable question, and one that I will not try to answer here, what view Jesus held of the book of Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus, which is a part of the Roman Catholic Bible, but not considered authoritative or inspired by Protestants.  If you look at the Greek New Testament, however, I counted 121 times where the book of Sirach is alluded to, forty-two of which are in the Gospels.  In Mark 10:19, where Jesus is answering the question of a man who asked Him what He should do to inherit eternal life   (Dida/skale a)gaqe/, ti¿ poih/sw iàna zwh\n ai¹w¯nion klhronomh/sw;)) Jesus quotes some of the Ten Commandments, but He adds the command: Do not defraud.  Is that from Sirach 4:1, or from Exodus 21:10 LXX and Malachi 3:5?  Sirach seems the more likely source.
[6]  understanding su/nesij  (sun’–e–sis) a coming together, union, quick comprehension, mother-wit, intelligence, sagacity
[7] Sirach 15:3
[8] James 1:5-8   If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, being  a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways,.  Ei¹ de/ tij u(mw½n lei¿petai sofi¿aj, ai¹tei¿tw para\ tou= dido/ntoj qeou= pa=sin a(plw½j kaiì mh\ o)neidi¿zontoj kaiì doqh/setai au)t%½. ai¹tei¿tw de\ e)n pi¿stei mhde\n diakrino/menoj: o( ga\r diakrino/menoj eÃoiken klu/dwni qala/sshj a)nemizome/n% kaiì r(ipizome/n%. mh\ ga\r oi¹e/sqw o( aÃnqrwpoj e)keiÍnoj oÀti lh/myetai¿ ti para\ tou= kuri¿ou, a)nh\r di¿yuxoj, a)kata/statoj e)n pa/saij taiÍj o(doiÍj au)tou=.
[9] Matthew 15:21-28, esp. v. 26
[10] daimoni¿zomai    (day-mon-id’-zo-mai)  of demon possession or oppression be possessed by, be tormented or vexed by, be demonized (MT 4.24)
[11] Consider such passages as Luke 13:10-17, Acts 10:38
[12] I will refer the reader to my book, The Importance of Healing, by PublishAmerica, 2006.
[13] Matthew 15:26
[14] Ecclesiastes 11:1     Cast your bread upon the waters,   for you will find it after many days.
[15] Galatians 5:22
[16] Nehemiah 8:10
[17] Psalm 103:13
[18] Matthew 7:7-10
[19] James 1:5-8
[20] Exodus 16
[21] Exodus 16:4   
[22] Exodus 16:27f