“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 (ESV)
The prayer Jesus taught in Matthew 6, begins by directing our attention away from ourselves. It positions our hearts towards worshiping God (Part 1). The prayer then addresses our pride by surrendering our control to God and his Kingdom (Part 2.) Then and only then, does the prayer shift to us. Our prayer life should model this, we should begin in worship and awe before our Father, we should insist on His ways before our ways, then our needs come into the picture. This is the priority of the prayer, however, just because our needs come secondary in the prayer, this shouldn’t lead us to the false sense that God cares for us less. God cares deeply for us and our well being, in fact, the bible says that God loves us as much as His own son. Jesus put it this way:
“…You sent me and loved THEM even as You loved ME.” John 17:23b (ESV)
This should cause our souls to find rest in a restless world, and hope in the midst of chaos. This fact also should encourage us to bring our needs (both big and small) to God. Paul encouraged us to do so:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God.” Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
Paul is leading us in the same prayer Jesus taught. Worship God first, and then be sure to let God know what you need.
There is nothing that we can conceive that is too big of a request for God to fill, nor is there anything that we can deem too insignificant for Him to care about. So Jesus teaches us to ask, each time we pray, for God to fill our needs. There is surely a difference in the things we WANT and the things we actually need. As the Rolling Stones put it, “You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” Such is life with God in His Kingdom. Jesus chose His wording here specific to point to something God had done for His people once before, and often what God did once, He is still seeking to do today.
The term “daily bread,” pointed the disciple’s attention back to the Exodus story. As Jews, they would have been familiar with this part of history (as most of you who were raised in Sunday School.) What Jesus meant to say through this comparison is important for us to understand. When we look back at Exodus, God gave very specific commands about the “daily bread” He was providing. Each person was only to take what they needed for that day. If they kept it overnight it would rot. This taught the Israelites that they had to rely on God each day anew. Then in true God-fashion, He told them one day a week they would have to pick up enough for two days so they didn’t have to gather on the Sabbath. God again was testing if they would do things his way instead of what made sense in their minds.
When Jesus instructs us to pray for our “daily bread,” He means that we should expect our needs to be met in the same way the hunger was provided for in the desert. God will give us what we need to get through today, and we will have to wake up relying on Him tomorrow for what we need at that moment. For some, this may cause anxiety, but Paul urged us not to feel that way, instead since we serve a God who is faithful and true, knowing that He has our today and our tomorrow should encourage us to no end.
This stanza means more than food. Our “daily bread” can be any physical, spiritual, financial, or emotional needs. He will give us the grace today to move forward in fighting against sin. He will give us the strength today to stand against the devil. He will give us His Spirit today to make it through whatever circumstances we may face, and He will provide you the means today to have food on our tables. Just like us as earthly parents, the Bible teaches that God longs to meet our needs, Jesus said so.
“…How much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him.” Matthew 7:11 (ESV)
God loves you, make your needs known to Him, and He will provide what you need for today.
Grace and Peace to You.
Read the next part here: “The Prayer Part Four: Forgive as we forgive.”