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Here is the image of daily bread, given one day at a time, to be received in simple trust like a child from their earthly parent.
Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 NKJV
From the Syriac Peshitta form of the Aramaic dialect: Our father who is in heaven may your name be holy. May your kingdom come. May your will be as it is in heaven also on earth. Give us bread every day. And forgive our sins also as we have forgiven sinners. Don't lead us into danger. But deliver us from evil because the Kingdom is yours. And the power, and the glory forever; to eternity. Amen --Steve Caruso
Give us this day our daily bread.Open the way for me to earn an honest living without anxiety; but let me never forget the needs of others, and make me want only that benefit for myself which will also be their gain. --Walter Bowie
Daily bread - All things needful for our souls and bodies: not only the meat that perishes, but the sacramental bread, and thy grace, the food which endures to everlasting life. --John Wesley
Our Daily Bread
Finally, we get to something familiar! Food. We understand food. We can see, touch, smell and taste it; and hear it snap, crackle and pop. Nourishment is never far from our minds. In fact, a good bit of our lives revolves around producing, acquiring, preparing, consuming, and cleaning up when we are done. We read labels, compare prices, and omit one meal to splurge on another. Business lunches, candlelight dinners, parties and celebrations, bountiful buffets, early breakfasts, munchies, TV dinners, meals-on-wheels, midnight snacks,--there's no end to our eating. We even have days when food is the highlight, the best part of the past 24 hours! Might even have time left over to get in some chicken soup for the soul. Yes, Lord, bring it on!
But why do we ask God for bread when our cupboards are full! Now that's a puzzling question. In our rush to enjoy the pleasures associated with mealtime, are we missing the obvious connection? If we pause to trace the origin of the food on the kitchen counter, we do indeed find our way back to God. Before the store, came the bakery and processing plants, all the delivery people and intermediaries, farmers and migrant workers, the water coming through the irrigation pipes, maybe ships from many continents, the soil of our good earth, sunshine and rain, and the providing love of our Father in heaven.
So lest we forget and ignore the providence of God, Jesus reminds us to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven, . . . give us this day our daily bread." Neither are we self-sufficient. Our food comes from a network of many hands. God provides the natural elements, but we bring all the ingredients together to form the loaf. Prayer and labor are both required and always go hand in hand. Bread does not grow from the bed of idleness nor drop miraculously from the sky. As in all endeavors, there is a God factor and a human factor, and cooperation is the key. The words of this prayer also remind us of something else. Not all cupboards are full. The abundance is not equally shared.
And so our daily bread is a prayer for peace and security worldwide, that the fortunate will not hoard and the poor will not have to steal and fight to feed their families. We pray for fair-minded government policies and compassionate organizations and individuals, that the abundance of God's good earth will be shared and multiplied far and wide. We pray that business companies large and small will look beyond their bottom line and earmark a portion of goods for distribution among the long lines of people victimized by greed or dislocated by family strife, war and natural disasters. Those who are hungry pray for food, and as we share what we have, we become the hands and feet which enable God to respond to the sorrows of poverty and injustice.
The hunger of humanity involves more than physical food, and bread is a symbol for all our needs. Although our waistlines prosper, our souls may wither away from lack of sustenance. When life is skimpy and the physical, emotional and spiritual burdens heavy, when we seek strength for today and hope for tomorrow--God the giver, becomes the Gift. Like daily bread, the grace of God is fresh every morning.
We pray for daily bread not as a reminder to God, but to prod our own memory not to be arrogant or take anything for granted. We are not self-sufficient. We need God. We need each other. This petition requires that we pray daily. Today's prayers are for today and do not last from one Thanksgiving feast to another. Each day we humble ourselves and acknowledge our dependence. Gladly and thankfully we share God's provision with others.
In this second half of the Lord's Prayer, we see our situation from heaven's perspective. What is required in order to be set free to love and serve our Lord? We need to have our basic needs met, live in harmonious relationships with God and with each other, and steer clear of avoidable evil.
Yes, why do we ask our Father in heaven for bread when we already have access to all we could possibly use? Could it be that, like a little child who owns nothing, Jesus wants us to hold out our empty plate and ask our Father to fill it? Humble, grateful, receptive, and ever mindful of God's providing love, let us eat.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: What is your favorite kind of bread and what do you like on/in it?
What is the longest time you have gone without physical food? Have you ever been starved for spiritual food? Share something from either of those experiences.Which is worse--a day without food or a day without prayer?
Martin Luther said, "Daily bread includes all that's needed for this life,Such as food and clothing, faithful husband or wife, Good weather, job, home, peace, friends who are true, Loving family, health, respect, good government too." Did Luther miss anything in that description? Which of these things do you pray about most frequently? Which do you tend to neglect?
It is true that God provides for us whether we pray for it or not, and gives bread to both saints and sinners. But since Jesus told us to do so, there must be some value in our asking. What is the benefit to us? In an affluent society, do people still need to ask God for daily bread? Jehovah-Jireh is a compound name which means "The Lord will provide." How does God provide for you?
We learn something about a person from their prayers. What do we learn about Jesus from the Lord's Prayer in general, and from the daily bread petition in particular? Why would Jesus include such a mundane request as daily bread? How does the simplicity of daily bread fit into your lifestyle?
When you pray for daily bread, how does that affect your daily living? Your interpersonal relationships? Your national and world views? Your stewardship of the environment?
Bread--today we can take it or leave it, but in a society without forks and spoons, bread was essential for getting the food from the table to one's mouth. What does that image add to your interpretation of God's concern for the physical and spiritual nourishment of his children?
The disciples were familiar with the references to bread in the following Scriptures: Exodus 13:3-10; Exodus 16;14-17 and Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 58:6-12. Consider how each passage might add significance to the bread petition in the Lord's Prayer.