Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
“The danger with the prayer for bread is that we get there too soon. We come to prayer, aware of urgent needs, or at least wants. It’s tempting to race through the Lord’s Prayer, as far as ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ so that we can then take a deep breath and say ‘Now look here: when it comes to daily bread, there are some things I simply must have.’ And then off we go into a shopping list. To do this, of course, is to let greed get in the way of grace.” N.T. Wright (The Lord & His Prayer, p. 36)
We go to our refrigerator and pantry and many of us have enough food for the next month, maybe even more. We live in a land of plenty. None of us have probably ever gone hungry. We do not worry about having enough to eat, so how do we pray this prayer? One of the challenges of this is prayer is to always remember that what we have, whether it be plentiful or sparse, is from God. Often those of us who are richly blessed have the hardest time remembering this.
This prayer may be more beneficial to us, not as a daily request for food, but as a daily reminder of where our food comes from. We need to be constantly reminded that God is in control and that we rely on him for all things. Without him the crops do not receive rain. Without him there is no sunshine. Without him we are nothing. God gives us life. He gives us each breath we take. The more we reflect on these things, the better off we will be.
“Keep us alive each day by giving us the food we need”
We are reminded by the word “daily” to take life one day at a time. We often struggle with this as Americans. We want to have a plan for everything. We plan for our children’s education. We plan for our retirement. We plan for our vacations. We have all these plans and here we are reminded to live life one day at a time.
It is possible for “bread” to mean spiritual bread. In John 6:35 Jesus says that he is “the bread of life.” It is also possible for bread to have a double meaning and for it to mean both physical bread and spiritual bread. I think it is better to understand it as physical bread since this is how the hearers of the sermon probably understood it, and Jesus never gives us any other reason within the context of the passage to believe it is something else.
Duet. 8:17-18 – It is easy for us to look at all we have and to think “mine!” “I earned this. I worked hard for what I have. No one is going to take away my things.” Even if we did earn all of our things by working hard this passage reminds us that God gave us the ability to work hard. We have what we have because of God and we need to be reminded of this fact on a regular basis.
Exodus 16 – This is the story that many 1st century Jews would have recalled when praying the Lord’s Prayer. It is a story about how the Lord provides, but it is also a story about trusting and obeying God. The Israelites are given specific instructions as to what to do and what not to do. They are not allowed to store up bread for themselves, meaning they must rely on God each day.
Matt. 4:4 – Although physical bread is important we must remember that it is not enough to keep us alive.
This is a prayer that should be prayed daily to remind us that God is the source of life and we rely on him for all things. In praying this prayer we should learn to trust God more. He gives us what we need. He provides the sustenance for us to live. Our food, clothes, and breath are gifts from God. We should learn to be less anxious about the future knowing that God is in control, and we should be thankful for everything he provides.