Pray Then Like This: Meditations on the Lord's Prayer part 6

Give us today our daily bread. 

Bread is one of the most basic food items and is used in the bible to represent our food needs in general (Proverbs 30:8). In this petition it probably functions to incorporate all of our physical needs.

The qualification ‘daily’ bread most probably has the sense of bread “for the coming day”. Notice the limitation this word brings and the check to our greed. Jesus gives us warrant to ask for our immediate needs, not those of the indefinite future. In fact, tomorrow’s needs are to wait for tomorrow’s petition.

The mention of the word 'today' suggests Jesus intends this petition to be on our lips daily as a constant reminder of our absolute dependence on God. We take it as a given that if we don’t work, we don’t eat. This petition reminds us that God’s gift is even more fundamental than our labour. We are diligent to get up every morning to work for our daily bread. How diligent are we in asking God for our daily bread?

The presupposition behind this prayer is our absolute dependence on God. Our life is from Him. He preserves us and He decides if and when we will live or die.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4)
In [God’s] hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:10)
If He should set His heart on it, if He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust. (Job 34:14-15)
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15)

The James passage reminds us that all of life, including plans and actions, is dependent on God. In this passage he is particularly addressing Christian merchants. They state with self-dependent confidence how the coming year will pan out. James reminds them that God determines their travel plans and business success. ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).’

The reality of need can sometimes be an occasion for worry and anxiety, especially for those facing financial hardship. At this point it is good for us to recall who we are praying to: “Our Father in heaven.” The One we are asking for daily bread is the One who loves us dearly and is able to do all that He pleases without restraint. Therefore Jesus says,

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Jesus’ initial illustrations of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field present us with graphic evidence of our Heavenly Father’s providential care. But far from serving as mere evidence, these illustrations provide the basis for a powerful argument.

“Your Heavenly Father provides for the birds of the air, right?”


“Are the birds of the air of more value to Him than you are?”

“No, I’m of far more value to God than the birds of the air.”

“Then how much more will your Heavenly Father provide for you. His care for the needs of things of little value guarantees His care for the needs of those of great value. So trust Him and be encouraged to ask Him for your daily bread.”

The connections between this passage of Scripture and the petition for daily bread are significant.

The priority of values we have seen reflected in the Lord’s Prayer are touched upon again by Jesus. When we make physical needs our top priority, we are no different from unbelievers. Jesus says, “the Gentiles seek after all these things…” Jesus calls us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. In the Lord's Prayer, He calls us to pray for God's kingdom to come and His will to be done before requesting daily bread.

The concluding comment reminds us that God gives daily grace to meet our daily troubles. ‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ God doesn’t expect us to meet tomorrow’s troubles with today’s grace, and we shouldn't expect to either. He calls us to pray daily for all that we need for that day. ‘Give us today our daily bread.’ Tomorrow’s bread will be given in answer to tomorrow’s prayer.

It should be noted for those who are tempted to doubt God’s Fatherly provision that here we have God teaching us to ask Him for such.

Pray Then Like This
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

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