The following is the seventh part of a series written by one of our members, David Carrico. Previous parts can be found at the links below:
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:9-11
Most commentators on this prayer typically divide it into three sections:
Adoration of God (v 9)
Submission to God (v 10)
Petitions of God (v 11-13)
Personally, the more I study it, the more I come to see that it is all praise of God, and at the same time it is all petition of God. Just something to think about.
Today I want to look at verse 11: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Bread—remarkable stuff, isn’t it? More than any other single food source, it contains enough of the necessary nutritional elements to preserve human life. It’s often called “the staff of life.” Today it’s plentiful, at least in America. And we all have our favorite types: white, whole wheat, etc. Myself, I’m partial to a good dark rye or pumpernickel.
Throughout recorded history, the masses of people survived on bread. In the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, providing bread on a daily basis often literally meant the difference between life and death. You can tell from several of Christ’s parables that there were times where a man’s ability to find day work would determine whether his family would eat that day. So frequently teachers look at this verse and say, “This is asking God to meet our physical needs.” And on one level, that’s true. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, the apostle Paul states, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:9)
Of course, there’s the little matter of just what our needs are. And when you study that matter in scripture, you will find that our physical needs are defined very simply: food, clothing, shelter. That’s it. Anything beyond that is a want, not a need. We can get by with a lot less than we want. If you don’t believe me, consider the places in Africa where a family’s income is about $200 a year.
We need to learn to be as Paul was.
Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. Philippians 4:11-12
Our prayers should not be wish-lists of “I want this, and that, and it would sure be neat if You would give me this other thing, too.” Instead, we should be asking God to meet our needs, and to help us to be content with what we have.
But that’s only one level of this part of the prayer. I see another level, one that is probably even more important.
Jesus did teach this phrase. But he also said something else that touches on this.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4
Just as bread made of wheat, or barley, or rye, or millet, or rice, or some kind of grain is needed to keep the body alive, there is a bread that is needed to keep the soul alive, and that is the word of God. And just as we crave food, just as we crave bread, we should crave the word of God. Just as we fill our bellies with food, we should fill our hearts and minds with the word of God. After all, “you are what you eat.”
Let’s look at this from a third and slightly different angle.
Jesus therefore said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” They said therefore to Him, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:32-35
Jesus, the Son of God, tells us that He is the bread of life, and that just as bread sustains life for the body, He is given to bring life to the world. Our eternal life comes from God the Father by way of Jesus. We should crave knowing Him, and by extension, also knowing God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. We should crave knowing God more than we crave a steak, or chocolate, or a hot fudge sundae, or whatever our favorite foods are. We should crave knowing God more than a junkie craves his next fix. It should be the overwhelming desire of our lives to know God.
To know God, who gives us Jesus on a daily basis. To know God, who gives us His Word on a daily basis.
And so our prayer should be, “Give us this day our daily bread. And give us a hunger for You that can only be satisfied with Your bread. Make us hunger and thirst for you. Strip away all things that would distract us from You, until there is nothing left for us but You.”
Grace and peace to you.