On Friday of this week at Christian Family Camp, Tom Wagner had the opportunity to lead us in the morning session. As a part of his priming of the pump, as I call it, he shared a little story about a family interaction. It seems that on several occasions within a particularly difficult week, his children overheard him saying under his breath the same words. “Just enough. Just enough. Just enough.” This would be as he was zooming through the house multi tasking on several levels, from cleaning items kids left on the floor to fixing things to trying to get out of the house on time for work. On one particular day, the “just enough’s” were coming fast and furious. His youngest son got up enough courage to ask him: “Dad, what do you mean when you walk through the house like that, saying “just enough” over and over again. He paused, mid stride, and in what he describes as his ‘harried parent voice and look’ he said – “Oh that. That is shorthand for the prayer that I am praying. The full prayer is this: Dear God, give me JUST ENOUGH patience so that I don’t strangle my kids today.”
I suspect we all have our variation of the JUST ENOUGH prayer.
Lord, give me JUST ENOUGH:
• wisdom to keep my mouth shut during the staff meeting being led by that crazy co-worker of mine.
• courage to choose life for this unborn child of mine.
• understanding so that I will know how to listen with your ears and heart and not my own judgments and prejudices.
• TIME to get these tasks out of the way before my kids come back from school
• patience to listen to my parent with Alzheimer’s repeat the same story for the 10th time in the past hour
• energy – to stay awake and listen to my spouse after a long day of dealing with the kids.
And so it goes. There are a TON of variations on the just enough prayer.
It seems that even Jesus had his experience of the “just enough’ prayer. There, enshrined in what we have come to know at the Lord’s prayer, is his variation of “Just Enough.” Give us this day our DAILY Bread. Not tomorrow’s or next week’s or next years – but what I need right here, right now. Father God, get me through this moment faithfully, so that I can be your presence and love in the world. Get me through this “now” that is a challenge to my trust or faith or hope. In your providence, I don’t need the whole world, nor am asking for it. And I may need something else tomorrow. But right now, all I need is my daily bread.
That part of the Lord’s prayer has become my favorite part to pray this year. (Who knows, maybe a different part will become more important next year.) Because there is something about asking for my daily bread or for ‘just enough’ keeps me honest. When I pray like that, I’m not caught up in demanding of God what is impossible for me to do, nor for him to give. But, I am focused, here and now, in this demand, in this little in-breaking of the kingdom, this little moment of eternity, be it one with large consequences or small – because I know that NOW matters. Asking for my ‘just enough’ keeps me centered in the do-able, not the impossible.
So far, I have never had to pray the ‘just enough’ prayer asking not to strangle my staff or brother priests or even the Archbishop, as Tom had to pray for his own children. But I am grateful for his little insight into asking for my daily bread. And as we will pray that part of the Lord’s prayer in a few moments together as a community of faith, I’ll be keeping all those ‘just enough’ prayers in my heart this day. Who knows? If we all hold one another’s intentions in our hearts, like a father who will not give a stone to a child who asks for bread or a scorpion to a child who asks for an egg, we will discover that God will give each of us ‘just enough’ to get through our days…