By Josh Feala, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
The fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “Give us today our daily bread.”
When Christians pray for “daily bread,” it can evoke the Christian practice of stewardship, such as tithing, sacrificial giving, or living simply. The premise of stewardship is that God has given abundantly to all people, and the abundance is a gift to be forwarded on to others where there is need. Since they are gifts, they should be used with both wisdom and joy. The resources people have can become gifts to share God’s kingdom with others.
What if voting was an act of stewardship?
It is virtually impossible to avoid the news when presidential candidates flock to Iowa to make their case for the Iowa caucuses. The campaigning happening in advance of the caucuses makes the toxic political environment even more apparent. Voting has become a high-stakes game, with opposing sides calculating tactics to ensure victory. Votes are used to help one team win over another. It is poor stewardship of the ballot when winning is prioritized over what might be best for the town, state, or nation.
Christians from the Lutheran tradition understand the fourth petition of The Lord’s Prayer to go beyond wealth. It includes everything that is necessary for daily life such as: clothes, work, family, friends, and government. There in God’s bread basket of abundance is a ballot. It is a precious thing that many in the past have fought and died for, and some are doing the same for it today. Voting indeed is a necessity for daily life. When used with wisdom and care, voting can protect the other necessities that are recognized in “give us today our daily bread.” The vote is for looking out for the common good and protecting the vulnerable.
Voting based solely on a preferred team wastes the gift because the vote is neither appreciated as a gift, nor is it recognized as something to use for the wellbeing of others. Faithfully stewarding a vote has always meant taking time to know and evaluate candidates’ platforms, leadership skills, and experience. Given the ever-rising political vitriol exhibited in recent years, faithfully stewarding a vote also means leaning into the 8th Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The public political discourse has all but evicted empathy and understanding. Voters need to listen to candidates as they present themselves, understand the candidates in the best possible light, but also test their words.
While the Democratic caucuses happen in about four months, every voter will get to cast a ballot in about thirteen months. While recent presidential scandals have superseded election news, an excess of public discourse regarding the primaries and general election still await voters. If you pray the Lord’s Prayer this week, pause when you get to the fourth petition. Reflect for a moment on the “daily bread” you have received. Where has God provided? What are some creative practices to share what God has provided? How can you wisely use your ballot for the common good? God indeed has provided much for us to steward faithfully, including a vote.