Trust in God and fill 10,000 grocery bags with food was the challenge heard by attendees of Saddleback Church this past weekend.
As part of his current sermon series on prayer, Saddleback's founding pastor Rick Warren gave a message on "The Prayer of Dependence" where he urged attendees to pray and depend on God for their daily bread.
The sermon was especially timely because of heightened anxiety over the economy as well as concerns over whether the stimulus package passed by Congress last week will work.
But Warren reminded his congregation that depending on God means seeing God as the source for everything.
"Whatever your need is – physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, whether it is the need in your body, in your mind, or a need in your soul or a need in your spirit – God says 'I will take care of that need if you will depend on me," Warren preached on Sunday, according to an audio file posted on the church's Web site.
Christians need to trust in Him to provide the necessities they need in life, and also share whatever He gives, the California pastor noted.
"There's nothing I need that God can't supply," Warren told his congregation. "It means that as a child of God, as a follower of Christ I should never, and you should never, have a scarcity mentality."
"What is the scarcity mentality? Scarcity mentality says, 'I'm afraid there isn't enough. There isn't enough to go around. So I'm going to panic, I'm going to worry. I'm going to get anxious, I'm going to be afraid.' There's more than enough to go around friends," the megachurch pastor assured.
To apply the lesson, the church distributed more than 10,000 empty shopping bags at the end of the services and challenged its congregants to overcome their economic fear with faith and take care of their neighbors' need.
"The number one way that God tests your faith? Money," Warren said. "God wants to know: Are you going to worry, or are you going to trust me? … When I meet others' needs, God takes care of mine."
Saddleback Church encouraged participants to give the bag filled with nonperishable food to friends and family in need, but most of the parishioners said they'd rather bring the bags back to the church for it to distribute, according to The Orange County Register.
The southern California megachurch is expected to in turn donate the bags to local food banks that are desperately in need of supply.
Operation Blessing International, a Christian relief and humanitarian ministry, reported, for example, a 343 percent increase in partner applications from food pantries across the country for provision recently.
But despite the economic depression, Saddleback parishioners after the service appeared enthusiastic to help put food on the table for needy locals.
Ruthie Daniel expressed willingness to participate in the food drive despite identifying herself as a "person in need."
"This is my way of giving to God, because I know he'll supply my needs," she said, according to The Orange County Register. "This sermon was just perfect for me today, because I'm going to trust him and not worry. … I think this is going to be a really great week for me."
Across the country, food banks have been reporting a drastic rise in demand for assistance as the economic depression deepens. The Maryland Food Bank, for instance, saw an increase in demand of 25 to 50 percent since last summer, according to WBAL-TV. Meanwhile, food banks in Gulfport, Miss., say they've experienced about a 30 percent increase in families needing food, according to WLOX-TV.