Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
Daily bread is just that. People in Jesus’ day had to make bread each day. They were asking God to supply an everyday reality, not a luxury. Making bread could be hindered due to drought or trade. There could be no taking for granted daily bread. Thus, daily bread implies trust in God to provide, not just in us to make it.
There are very few things that we can consider “daily bread” today, because we have the ability to get them. Our purchasing power negates our need for this prayer. For those in Jesus’ day who paid a temple tax and a tax to the Romans, and who had barely enough to survive on in the first place, this was a real cry for sustenance. For me, this is a cry for knocking me down a notch. It’s like saying, “God, don’t let me have more than I need, or else I will become too proud, too reliant on myself, and too attached to my stuff.”
Daily bread implies satisfaction. Dietrich Bonhoeffer comments in The Cost of Discipleship, “The disciples realize that while it is a fruit of the earth, bread really comes down from above as the gift of God alone. That is why they have to ask for it before they take it. And since it is the bread of God, it is new every day. They do not ask to lay up a store for the future, but are satisfied with what God gives them day by day.” Anyone else get the feeling Jesus is trying to remind us of the Israelites being fed by manna in the desert? It gets really hard to grumble about life when we pray this way.
Our natural longings are not evil. Just so we’re careful not to make our desires inherently evil, let’s remember this. God didn’t create us with desires just so he could condemn them in us. Not at all. He understands, however, and so must we, that we easily allow our natural desires to become twisted and turned inward, with motives of power, control, and covetousness. N.T. Wright says, “This clause in the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that our natural longings, for bread and all that it symbolizes, are not to be shunned as though they were of themselves evil. Of course a genuine glutton must repent of desiring, and grabbing, more bread than is wise or good. But God knows our desires in order that we may turn them into prayer; in order that they may be sorted out, straightened out, untangled and reaffirmed.”
Prayer for daily bread keeps us following the commandments, do not lie and do not steal. I am reminded of what Proverbs 30:7-9 says. “Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” This prayer enables us to make God’s name holy! It is intricately tied to what we’ve prayed earlier. We can honor a God who provides for our needs. We will not honor a God who gives us more than we need or less than we need.