“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6: 9-13)
“Give us this day our daily bread”
It is significant that this fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer – “Give us this day our daily bread” – is the only one that concerns our physical needs. It comes after the first three which focus on God’s name, kingdom and will. Hence, following the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer, we learn that we must put God first in our lives. The honouring of His name, the coming of His kingdom, and the doing of His will – must be sought first before our own personal interests. These thoughts teach us that we must attach more importance to spiritual things such as the cause of Christ and our soul’s well-being, than to our own bodily needs.
In the Sermon on the Mount, our Saviour exhorted us to “take no thought” for our basic needs “for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matt. 6: 31-32). Rather than be anxious, we are told to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6: 33).
This petition, “Give us this day our daily bread”, carries great spiritual blessings. Let us consider some of them:
o Daily provisions
As children of our Heavenly Father, we depend on Him to supply our basic needs. Note that there is a limitation in this petition – it is for “daily bread” – and not for bread to meet our future needs. Hence, when we ask God for “daily bread”, we are taught to depend on Him for our daily nourishment. This lesson was also taught to the Israelites when God provided manna for them in the wilderness. The people were told to “gather a certain rate every day” (Ex. 16: 4).
We learn here the wonderful lesson of living one day at a time. Our tomorrows are in God’s hand, and we may not live to see them. We must “take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6: 34). Thus, let us commit our cares to our Heavenly Father, and confine our thoughts and concerns to the present day.
“This does not forbid forethought – the Bible encourages wise and proper care for the future. But all we are authorised to ask God – to give us what is enough for the present day. Even if in the evening our last crust is eaten and there is nothing in store for tomorrow, we need not be afraid, nor think that God has forgotten us. When the morrow comes, we may ask for the morrow’s own bread – and know that God will hear us and answer our prayer in the right way” (The Golden Gate of Prayer – J R Miller).
o A humbling practice
It humbles us when we ask God for our daily sustenance. It reminds us that we are fully dependent upon Him not only for our basic needs, but also for fresh mercies every morning: “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3: 22-23).
Bread is a staple food for many. We depend on it to sustain us daily. This thought also humbles us, as explained by Dr Peter Masters: “Crops are so vulnerable to the weather. In those times, when there were no modern food-storage facilities, bread was never taken for granted. They could not count on having it. So we must learn to pray as people who are always vulnerable, and in need of the protection and blessing of God. We cannot count on this without prayer” (Sword & Trowel 1998 No. 2).
o Guard against extravagance and covetousness
Our Heavenly Father provides richly for His children. Often, He gives us more than we need. But we are taught to ask for what is enough – “our daily bread”, not for luxuries or extravagances. What we ask for must be profitable for us and glorifying to God. Should the Lord provide more than what we ask for, we will seek His grace to manage that blessing in a God-honouring way. But we should not pray for a luxurious home, a limousine or anything that is unnecessary or excessive. Such needless indulgences may encumber us in our walk with the Lord.
As we pray, let us ask ourselves – Is it necessary? Is it out of a self-serving motive or covetous spirit? Is it God-honouring? Will it stumble others?”
As God’s children, we are comforted to know that we are under His constant care. We are thankful that we can look to Him for “our daily bread”. But while we are concerned about our bodily needs, we must seek to put God first in our lives. Approach Him humbly to acknowledge our daily dependence upon Him. Let us also check our desires and ensure that our petitions are necessary, and glorifying to God. (… to be continued)