Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A brief glance at the Lord’s Prayer reveals that there is one word that characterizes the first half of the prayer and another word that characterizes the second half of the prayer. The word for the first half is “your"-Your name, Your kingdom, Your will. The word for the second half of the prayer is “us"-Give us, forgive us, lead us. By arranging things this way Jesus is teaching us that we are to begin with God’s concerns. We are to pray to God about the things he is most concerned about. When we have done that, we are to pray for our own concerns-Our daily bread, our forgiveness, and our protection in the moment of temptation. We start in heaven and then come down to earth, which is the pattern of all divine revelation.
In the second half of this prayer God is brought directly into the very tiniest details of our everyday lives.
Let’s take a look at the second half of the prayer and analyze it a little bit more. It contains three petitions- “Our daily bread”, “forgive us our debts”, and “lead us not into temptation.” That covers provision, pardon and protection. If you think about those three things, they take care of all the needs of life Not only that, it takes care of every part of you personally. Provision takes care of your body. Pardon takes care of your soul. Protection takes care of your spirit.
The second half of the Lords prayer begins with a petition for provision: “Give us this day our daily bread.” There are two words we need to think about before we consider the deeper meaning of this petition. First, this is a prayer for bread, not for cake. “Give us today our daily bread.” The Greek word for “bread” refers to common, ordinary bread. It doesn’t mean anything fancy. It just means normal, everyday bread. Jesus is telling us that when we pray, we ought to pray for ordinary, normal, everyday bread.
This is a prayer for food. When was the last time you actually prayed to God, “O God, please give me a meal?” Most of us ought to pray the opposite, “O God, prevent me from eating another meal, I have already eaten too much.” This petition sounds like it ought to be a prayer uttered by someone living in Haiti or Bangladesh. It’s sad but true. We have so much food we take this prayer request for granted.
In the broader spectrum, it also includes clothing and shelter. St. Augustine points out, "we ask for these temporal things not as our goods but as our necessities". We should not be seeking luxuries. Rather, "having food and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content" (1 Timothy 6:8). As Solomon wisely prayed: "Give me only the necessaries of life" (Proverbs 30:8)
But the bread mentioned in this prayer means more than just physical bread or physical necessities; it’s also a reference to our spiritual bread-the bread of life!. Luke when, speaking of the Lords prayer, says “our daily (Latin: quotidianum) bread”, which means “the bread of our necessity” or “the bread that suffices for each day”. But in Matthew the same Greek word is translated “supersubstantial (Latin: supersubstantialem) bread” which means more than substantial; being more than substance.
This petition,... also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: 'Man does not live by bread alone, but ... by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4), that is, by the Word He speaks and the Spirit He breathes forth. There is a famine on earth, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11). For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life, the Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.
Jesus compares the gift of faith to bread. After the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus told the crowd: "Do not labor for food that perishes, but for that which endures unto life everlasting, which the Son of Man will give you. ... My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. ... This is the labor of God that you believe in Him and in Him Whom He has sent" (John 6:27).
The crowd understands that Jesus is demanding faith, but they demand the labor of bread for their bellies. Jesus responded: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. ... whoever beholds the Son, and believes in Him, shall have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:27,32,34,40).
Therefore, we may conclude that Jesus, as the object of our Faith, is our daily bread for which we pray.
Jesus is more than our bread of faith; He is our Eucharistic bread. Only after they first believe in Him can they believe in His presence in the Eucharist: "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, and have died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that if anyone eats of it, he will not die. ... If anyone eats of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:48-51).
Many disciples grumbled at this, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" Note how Jesus confirms that they have understood Him properly, declaring solemnly, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:52-54).
This great petition “Give us today our daily bread” is more than just a prayer request. Properly understood, it describes an entire way of looking at life. This petition suggests something about a truly Christian lifestyle. You could call it Daily Bread Living. That is to say, if you are going to pray this prayer with understanding, it’s going to lead to a certain attitude, or a certain way of life. If this prayer is ever going to become reality it must first affect the way you live. Therefore I want to suggest four steps to Daily Bread Living. Each step comes from the very words of the text itself. These four steps to daily bread living are really four qualities that need to be in your life if this prayer request is ever going to become a reality.
1.The First Step to Daily Bread Living is Gratitude to God for All His Blessings.
The first step comes from the very first word. “Give us today our daily bread." This prayer request teaches us that everything we have comes from God. Everything. The clothes, the food, the friendships, the education, the mind we use, the words we speak, everything comes from God. We are put in the position of those who are praying, “O heavenly Father, give us what we need.” Surely this must be the central teaching-that gratitude to God is to mark our lives and we’re to be grateful to God for all he’s done.
2. The Second Step to Daily Bread Living is Contentment with What God has Already Provided.
The key to the second step is in the very last word: “Give us today our daily bread." We are invited to ask for bread, not for cake. We are to pray “give us today our daily bread,” not “our daily dessert.” Jesus encourages us to pray to God for our needs, not for our greed's. We are to pray and ask God for what we really need, not for every wild desire that comes into our mind. The text says “bread,” not “chocolate eclair.” We are to trust God for the things we really need.
3. The Third Step to Daily Bread Living is Confidence That God Will Meet My Needs Day by Day.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Daily bread living means believing that God will provide what you need on a day by day basis. God is willing to supply our needs, but only on a day to day-to-day basis. We don’t like to live like that. Most of us have freezers at home filled with food. Maybe we have a side of beef and some vegetables. We have plenty of food. A freezer filled with food makes it more challenging to pray this prayer sincerely. We mutter our prayers instead of saying them from the heart because we already know we aren’t going to go hungry. Maybe we should be considering giving some of that food, that is in the freezer, to those who have a daily need. You may be the answer to someone's prayer-”give us this day our daily bread”
We don’t like to live the way Jesus is talking about here. We don’t want to live day to day. We’d rather have pension plans and stocks and bonds and options. We would rather have life insurance policies that guarantee a secure future. If we had our way, this prayer would read, “Give us this week our weekly bread.” Or “Give us this month our monthly bread.” Or better yet, “Lord, give us this year our yearly bread. Just give it to us all at once and we’ll be all right. Then we’ll trust you."
God does not work that way. He works by teaching his people moment by moment dependence upon him.
4. The Fourth Step to Daily Bread Living is Generosity Toward Those who are Less Fortunate.
This principle comes from the little word “our” - “Give us this day our daily bread.” It does not say, “Give me my daily bread. That’s a completely different prayer. You’re never invited to pray for yourself alone. Every time you pray this prayer you are invited and encouraged and even commanded to pray in concert with your brothers and sisters. We all eat from the same table. This petition imparts a bigness, a vastness, a broadness to your prayers. It takes you out of the narrow focus of your own problems and it opens you up to a whole world of people all around you. This thought runs against the grain of modern society. In the marketplace only the tough survive. You’ve got to look out for yourself and make sure no one is gaining on you. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Whoever works the hardest gets the most. The world says, “Get to the top any way you can.” How different that is from the words of Jesus in Luke 6:38, “Give and it shall be given to you.” It is a jungle out there and the business world runs by the law of the jungle. Only the tough survive. You’ve got to look out for “number one.” It is open warfare and you have to be willing to stick someone hard if that’s what it takes to get to the top. It’s totally opposite of what Jesus is suggesting here.
So what is daily bread living? Let me summarize. Daily bread living is:
1. Gratitude to God for all of his blessings.
2. Contentment with what God has already given you.
3. Confidence that God will meet your needs day by day by day.
4. Generosity toward those who are less fortunate than you.
Gratitude. Contentment. Confidence. Generosity. That’s what Daily Bread Living is all about. If you pray this prayer enough, that’s where you’ll end up. It’s not a bad place to be.