I have learned so much from my friends in Southeast Asia. The Christians there are often poor in this world’s goods, but as the Scripture says, “God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith.” A great example of their riches is what I have seen in their life of prayer.
For instance, in the model prayer our Lord teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread…” When I pray those words I simply do not fully enter in to the reality of trusting God to provide for every meal. Our prayers regarding food are usually just meal time gratitude toward God for His bounty in our lives. There is certainly nothing wrong with having your needs bountifully supplied. But not realizing where it ultimately comes from is wrong!
I have eaten rice with the poor in out-of-the-way villages in very remote places. When they pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” they truly are looking to God for the provision to simply eat another day. It is hand to mouth. There is no pantry. There are rarely any left-overs, and certainly no refrigerator in which to put them.
I do not share this to make anyone feel guilty about God’s blessings. And I am not saying that living hand-to-mouth is a better scenario. But I am saying that I have learned a lot about trusting God and about prayer from these humble poor people.
I remember the testimony of a little girl whose family had become Christians through the outreach of one of our tribal churches. As Christmas came one year, they had learned about Jesus’ birth and the real meaning of Christmas. But being from a very poor family, this family could not afford to buy and share gifts with each other at Christmas time. But the little girl really believed that Jesus was a prayer hearing and prayer answering Savior. Had they not already experienced Jesus saving their family from the bondage of demonic oppression and idol worship?!!
The little girl so wanted to experience what the more wealthy kids enjoyed at Christmas: a certain candy treat made from scratch locally. It was always on sale at the little road side shops. But she had never tasted it. Some of the other kids had told her about it. This little girl, having already learned how to bring her simplest needs to Jesus in prayer, made this candy one of her requests. She even told her parents that Jesus would give her candy for Christmas! She really expected to receive it.
At one point on Christmas Day a raven actually swooped down directly in front of the hut where the little girl lived, and dropped a piece of this yummy candy.
No, I didn’t read this story on the internet! It really happened among the people we work with. A Pharisee might chide the little girl for such a shallow prayer. But Jesus apparently wasn’t offended by it. For He clearly commanded the raven to secure the treat and to deliver it at the exact address!
“If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good gifts to them that ask Him.” (Matt 7:11)
This is one of my favorite stories about prayer! But we must not miss something. The bird and the candy came from somewhere. Though God could easily create them out of nothing, it is not likely that He did.
What He did was sovereignly direct the relocation of the asset.
One time in the same Asian country, I was sharing a meal of rice and roasted chicken with some other pastors in an outdoor setting. When suddenly there was this black swoosh on the table in front of us. In the next instant I watched a raven carrying off a chicken leg from our table!
We were startled and a bit put off by this – feeling even a bit violated by the brazen bird! Later I tried to “connect the dots.” Could it have been that there was a humble believer outside of town praying for her daily bread! I think God has often moved meat from the table of the Ahabs and directed it to the Elijahs at the brook – who were hungry and praying. (This at least is my interpretation of 1 Kings 17:2-6.)
But for those of us who belong to the Lord, how much better and more glorifying it is to God if we pray, “Lord, you have blessed me. Now make me a blessing. I want to share my bread with those in need. Where shall I send it Lord?”
Why not see all your assets as belonging to the Lord and yourself as His raven? For this is much closer to the truth. Remember the words of our Lord, “For it is more blessed to give than to receive.”