Luke 9:13-17 But He said to them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people." (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, "Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each." They did so, and had them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. And they all ate and were satisfied… NASB
This miraculous meal is recorded in all four Gospels, and was obviously a testimony that deserved to be told and retold throughout their lives and to the generations that have followed. You have probably heard more than one sermon or Sunday school lesson taught on the feeding of the five thousand. Growing up in the church, I had probably heard a lesson on this miracle every year or so, but in January of this year, God prompted me to come and study it again. I prayerfully began to read from all four accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, being careful not to skim the Scripture with a blind eye of familiarity, but with a fresh and open mind, as if I was reading it for the first time. I am thankful to report that God showed me something new that we would need for the days that were ahead of us.
On the day of this miraculous meal Jesus and the disciples pull their boats up on the shoreline and are met by a crowd of dismayed people wandering and wondering what to do next. John the Baptist had been killed by Herod, and those who had followed him, to learn from his teachings were, “like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus had compassion on them and in His usual way He wanted to tend to their physical need so that He could address their spiritual needs.
As Jesus and His disciples gather to assess and address the situation, I had my moment of seeing the new lesson in this familiar story. Here they were on the shoreline of the lake, with their boats and nets within eyeshot of their discussion, and a hungry crowd in the background, and not one of these fishermen fell back on what they would have always done. Not one of them suggested that they go fishing, even though that is what they grew up doing in order to feed the families who lived around that same lake. They could have jumped on their boats out of habit, and thrown the nets a few times, and brought up fish for the crowd to throw on a fire and cook - but instead of doing what they had always done, they asked Jesus what they should do… and they got a miracle.
So often we are on autopilot; relying on what we have always done in the same way day after day. In these unprecedented days where EVERY American and many people around the world are being impacted by the coronavirus, it is not life, business, or ministry as usual. We are working, worshipping, and learning in ways and days like we have never seen before. We cannot rely on our habits and traditions, and we certainly cannot “lean on our own understandings.” We have no idea what the next hour might bring, much less tomorrow, and so we are all perfectly positioned to turn to Jesus in prayer and ask Him, “Lord, what do You want to accomplish, and what would you have us do for such a time as this?” If we do not pull into a shell of isolation and fear, if we do not rely or return to old habits and business as usual, but we turn to Jesus in what seems to be impossible circumstances, we set ourselves up to see His miraculous hand and heart supply in ways we never expected.
Will you please join me in prayer: Lord Jesus we don’t know what is going to happen from one minute to the next, but You do. Tomorrow is already a memory to You, and You hold all the answers, all the plans, all the provision we need, and incline Your ear to hear us ask. In our weakness Your strength shines. In our need Your provision gives You glory. In our prayers You position us to see Your goodness, and so we cry out today asking You to fill the earth with the knowledge of Your glory as the waters cover the sea.
Lenten and Lengthened Season of Prayer
Day 31: Make Room for a Miracle: Luke 9:16-17 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.
Pause and ponder ways that you have been trying to push through in your usual ways through these unusual times. First, ask Jesus what He wants to accomplish. Lean in and listen. Ask what He would have you do that might be new, for such a time as this. Make room for a miracle in your life and others.
Day 32: Prepared in Prayer: Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
As you pray, praise God as your creator and commit to continuing to be clay in His hands, constantly shaped and perfected for His purposes. Thank Him for the opportunities and good works He prepared for you, and ask Him to help you prepare for each deed and day in prayer and His Word.
Day 33: Say it, Sing it: Psalm 9:1-2 1 I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
If you have ever been at a loss for words in prayer or conversation, give God thanks for something specific, tell others about what He has done: a prayer He answered, a need He met, a way He showed up in a powerful and unexpected way. Exult (glory and triumph) in Him, in other words, be glad in His glory. No matter what you sound like, be willing to sing His praise. Let songs of worship, praise and faith fill some of the moments when you just don’t know what to say or how to say it.
Day 34: Truth in Love: Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
As you pray, ask God to examine your heart and the intention behind the words you speak. Knowing your lips only reveal what is in your heart; open yourself fully for God to show you areas where you are being critical, political, or sharing personal preferences, but not His Word with His heart. Our world is filled with hurting people, we all need more Jesus not more critics. Ask Jesus to fill you with His Word that heals, not wounds. Ask Him to continue to grow you and reveal the measure of maturity in you, as He rules and fills your heart.
Day 35: Found Faithful: Luke 18:7-8 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
Read Luke 18:1-8 as you pray and remember all of the prayers God has answered in your lifetime. Pause and thank Him as each one comes to mind. Turn your prayers to something you have been praying over for quite some time. Search your heart and ask God to reveal if you have lost your faith in praying this prayer, and if so, ask Him to heal your unbelief. Remember that His time is an important part of His design and pray with faith, passion and patience as He prepares His answer. Pray that you will be found faithful.
Day 36: Pray and Labor: Luke 10:2 And He was saying to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
You and I are laborers, sent out into the harvest. Every Christ-follower is a laborer who has been sent, the question is, “have we been obedient to go?” Pray for opportunities every day to share the love and message of Jesus and obediently go and make disciples.
Day 37: Here and Now: Matthew 25:37-40 Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
The world is filled with people with many needs. You don’t have to search too far to find someone who needs your encouragement and something you could easily give. The answer to the question of, “when and where?” is “here and now.” Pray and ask God where you can be generous with all He has given to you, not to store up but to steward and share. Ask Him to remove anything in your life that keeps you from wanting to see and meet a need.
Serving Him with Gladness,