Spiritual Practice


Steve Matthews

Being self-employed can be great. Right now, I am sitting outside working on my computer while the cat lounges nearby and the dryer tosses my clothes through the final cycle. Not a bad work environment. On the other hand, worrying about money and contracts is not so great. If I’m not careful, I can live each day with persistent anxiety about what is not getting done and constant worry about what my life will be like when my current contract expires in six months.

Sometimes, my anxiety is grounded in reality: I need to pay attention to income and resources. But I also need to make sure I am engaging in practices that point me to the ever-present resource I have in God—the presence of love and possibility that accompanies me and nudges me toward an assurance of abundant life despite the external ups and downs. I need practices that remind me that God’s love and presence is enough for today.

In Exodus, we read stories of God’s providence and grace as the children of Israel traveled across the desert toward the promised land. Their journey was not extravagant by any stretch of the imagination. But God sent a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide them (Exodus 13:17-22), and daily God provided manna and quail for them to eat (Exodus 16). They had enough for each day.

What blessing is the equivalent of manna and quail in your life? What, like the pillar of cloud or fire, helps you to see or sense God’s presence and guidance? We might think of prayer as a time of asking God for help; but prayer is also slowing down, paying attention, and reflecting on our day with heartfelt gratitude. Even when we, like the children of Israel, experience times when our future seems uncertain, we can have a sense of God’s love and providence.

In the story of the Exodus, the people were guided and sustained by God; but perhaps their greatest provision was the way God showed up in their community as they traveled together. We don’t have many stories about the Israelite’s daily interactions, but this group was learning what it means to be in covenant relationship with God and with one another. They were learning interdependence through the long, challenging journey across the desert. God shows up as “enough” for them—and for us—in so many ways.

Practicing gratitude, silence, and deeper awareness can nurture in us a growing sense of God’s moment-to-moment gifts. God also reminds us that we have “enough for today” when we begin to trust one another more deeply, when we borrow and lend courage and vulnerability within community. Our interdependence on God and one another is truly our manna—our bread for today—and it is enough.



For the next week, slow down for five to ten minutes a day. During these mini-vacations, notice your heartbeat and your breath. Let go of all that is unfinished in your life. Let go of your worries about the future, and reflect on God’s presence in this moment. What do you see, hear, and feel in the stillness? Reflect on how you are accompanied by others. As your time of prayer comes to an end, offer a prayer of gratitude for the gifts of “enough” today.

Steve Matthews was a youth minister for over 15 years. He is now a spiritual director, a coach working with redeveloping churches, and a Senior Associate Consultant with FaithX Strategic Missional Consulting.

—from devozine (September/October 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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