Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:9-13
your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.Matthew 6:25, 32-34
I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.John 6:48-51
When I was a university student, I had a number of moments when I was worried about money. I didn’t know how I was going to pay my rent and buy groceries. Yet I ended up having what I needed every single time. My worry, while it seemed reasonable, was pointless. It’s also true that there’ve been times when I wasn’t so much worried about today or even tomorrow, but a few days or even weeks from today. Things are ok now, but what about later? And this is the thing: the Bible acknowledges the fact that we’re likely to worry about this stuff.
That’s why Jesus says what he does in the passage we read from Matthew: Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Why tell us not to worry if we’re not likely to do so?
Think about what’s going on in our world right now. Millions of people have lost their jobs. Businesses are struggling, especially small businesses. COVID-19 and the restrictions that have been put in place because of it, have had serious economic consequences. This even applies to churches. How many church people have worried their church won’t have enough money to continue? And this is true even when there’s no pandemic keeping things shut down. Churches struggle with worry over budgets and bills just like families and businesses. It all causes us to ask and face the question: what provides for us? Or who is it that ultimately provides for us? And where is our trust when it comes to our needs?
It’s because of all this and more that Jesus, in the second half of The Lord’s Prayer, invites us to pray give us today our daily bread. In fact, like the rest of the prayer, it points us back to the first line, our Father in heaven, and, also, points us ultimately to Jesus who was sent by the Father into the world to be the bread of life.
One of the things that has been disrupted during this coronavirus pandemic is what’s called the supply chain. And a supply chain “is the network of all the individuals, organizations, resources, activities and technology involved in the creation and sale of a product, from the delivery of source materials from the supplier to the manufacturer, through to its eventual delivery to the end user.” In other words, a supply chain involves all the steps between the food on your table and where it came from: who prepared or processed it, who packaged it, who delivered it, the store where you bought it. Depending on where you get your fresh fruit, for example, the supply chain could be longer or shorter.
I hope that we’re able to have our Barrington Farmer’s Market again soon, though right all dates for it are pending. It’s interesting to me that I feel somehow more satisfied about the food I buy from a Farmer’s Market than a grocery story. I’m closer to the source. The food and products are locally made, not mass-produced from halfway around the country or even the world. My point is that I think a lot of the time for many of us the supply chain between what we use and eat and where it ultimately comes from—that is, God—feels much longer than it should.
Or to put it really simply: we often lack a deeper sense that God is the one who meets our needs. Because of this we might be less inclined to pray this prayer—give us today our daily bread—if we are less aware of how dependent on God we really are. So: praying give us today our daily bread reminds us that all we have comes from God our Father as gift, as the provision of his grace. Everything we have is his. We can’t rightly claim ownership of anything.
Not only that, but praying this prayer also reminds us that not everyone is as blessed as we are. There are those who pray this petition—or words very much like it—with desperation, who literally do not know where their next meal might come from. I recently saw video on YouTube of food bank lines in some US cities—it looked like an enormous traffic jam, the lines were so long! Think of it this way: there are ways in which we can be the answer to this prayer for others. Our heavenly Father could use this prayer to prick the consciences of those who are more well-fed and provided for and prompt them towards greater generosity.
And perhaps most importantly, this prayer—give us today our daily bread—points us to the character of the God to whom we pray, that he is our Father in heaven, our Abba that we can trust and to whom we can cry out. For, as Jesus tells us, the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
What about you? Are you in a position of plenty or of need? And if you’ve never prayed to God because you’re in need, are you open to asking him for help? Are you open to praying give me this day our daily bread? I mentioned churches at the beginning. Are you in a church that is worried about its finances and its survival? Where is your trust, in your heavenly Father or in your church’s bank account? We have to keep reminding ourselves who it is we worship, who it is that we’re called—indeed, invited—to trust. When we pray give us today our daily bread—we’re talking to our Father in heaven.
Now, many of you read the Our Daily Bread devotional.And of course the only reason it has that name is because of the Scripture that says: It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. In other words, there’s physical bread and then there’s spiritual bread. This passage is found in two places.
In Deuteronomy there’s the story of God sending manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
God wants his people to learn to trust him for everything. He wants us to learn that our provision, physical and spiritual, is in him and him alone. He gives us each day our daily breath. He alone saves. He alone provides. He alone rescues. He alone feeds us. He alone supplies. He alone delivers. I may live as though the supply chain between God and I is long indeed, but that’s an illusion.
The second place we find this verse is on the lips of Jesus when he is tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days in the wilderness. Then the tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
What’s interesting and crucial to understand about the temptations of Jesus is that each of Jesus’ temptations mirror a temptation faced by Israel in the wilderness. Except where Israel failed to trust God in the wilderness, Jesus did trust his Father during his own time in the wilderness. He is the true Israel. So while I said that this prayer—give us today our daily bread—points us back to the first line, our Father in heaven, it ultimately points us to Jesus himself.
That’s why we read the passage from John 6, often called the bread of life discourse. In fact, here Jesus intentionally connects himself to the Israelites and the manna in the wilderness: I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
I like how Wesley Hill puts it in his book The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide to Praying to Our Father: “When we come back to the Lord’s Prayer after hearing Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life and His flesh given to the world for eating, it becomes hard not to see Jesus Himself as the daily bread He encourages us to pray for.”
And both kinds of bread—the manna in the wilderness and Jesus himself—come from God. They are provided. We don’t procure them or earn them or create them. God is the giver of bread. And in Jesus God ultimately gives himself.
Therefore, praying give us today our daily bread is about asking, also, for spiritual food. Praying these words means asking Jesus for help to receive him more fully into our lives. It means crying out to him, knowing only he can supply us with the grace and patience we need to get through each and every day. It means knowing that only he can sustain us into and throughout all of eternity—only by receiving the bread of life can we live forever.
Do you know that the same God who graciously provides all that you have for this life—even when you don’t ask him or thank him for it—is the God who seeks to have you with him for eternity. Do you get that?
That is why God the Father sent God the Son. As Jesus says himself: I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. Why? To live joyfully and peacefully and wonderfully in the presence of your Creator and Redeemer forever.
Maybe you have plenty for this life. Maybe you don’t worry about how to put food on the table. But what about eternal life? Remember what Jesus says to those who do worry about food and clothing? Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Those who receive Jesus as the bread of life, which is what it means to seek the kingdom, are those who needn’t worry about daily needs. So let me ask, is Jesus the bread of life to you? Is Jesus your dailybread? Is the one who you trust day in and day out to meet you in the deepest places of your heart and your life? Have you asked him to be the source of your eternal life?
Because here’s the thing: if all you seek from God is manna in the wilderness, not only is that all you might get, you’re not really seeking from God all that he offers. Manna doesn’t last. Manna never fully satisfies. But Jesus lasts. He is forever. And only Jesus truly satisfies now and forever. In the end, praying give us today our daily bread is not only about asking for what we need to get through today; it’s ultimately about admitting our need for Jesus, the bread of life. It’s about receiving the life he seeks to give. And we need this life—his life, Jesus’ life—now if we want to have life forever.