Our Daily Bread

Scriptures: Exodus 16:1-7; Matthew 4:1-4

We’re continuing in our series on the Lord’s Prayer. As we have noted before, the prayer consists of seven petitions or requests. The first three have to do with God and are distinguished by the word “thy”: “Thy name,” “Thy kingdom,” and “Thy will.”

The second four petitions, which we begin to examine now, have to do with human well-being and are distinguished by the word “us”: “give us,” “forgive us,” “keep us” and “lead us.” In these last petitions we turn from praying for God’s glory to praying for our needs.

It is interesting that the first real petition in this model prayer only comes after we have begun in praise and have affirmed the priority of the kingdom of God and His rule in our lives. We can only truly effectively pray for ourselves after gaining the perspective that worship and a focus on the kingdom of God will provide. Only then are we ready to ask for the things that we need.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” In this prayer for daily “bread,” bread stands for more than just food. It stands for all the results we get from eating food. It stands for all the physical things we need for life.

You, and all people, have three kinds of needs:

  • Physical needs, such as shelter, food and clothing.
  • Emotional needs, such as stability, confidence and self-esteem
  • Spiritual needs, which can only be satisfied in Jesus Christ.

When you awoke this morning, none of you had even the slightest doubt that you would be able to eat today. Most of the major concerns for the average American is what will we eat, not whether we will eat.

This was not true in Jesus’ time, where subsistence living, as it is called, was the standard fare. People basically worked all day to pay for dinner.

So what does this request mean? First, to pray “give us this day our daily bread,” to ask God to “give” us, suggests our absolute dependence on God for everything. God made us with needs so that we would have to look to Him to supply them.

To pray this prayer for “our daily bread,” expresses our conviction and belief that God is able to answer our prayer and meet our needs. It is not that we are praying to overcome God’s unwillingness or overcome his reluctance, seeking to bend His will to ours. We noted last week that is far from the case, as we pray “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

But rather, it is the taking hold of God’s willingness to give. God is always more willing to give than we are to receive. God desires daily dependence on Himself.

When God provided manna in the wilderness for the Israelites, they were commanded to gather only enough food for each day. (Except for the day before the Sabbath, because they were not supposed to go out to gather on the Sabbath. They were to be worshiping God.)

If they gathered more than they needed it would spoil overnight. It says maggots would be growing when they looked at it again. Because there were some people who disobeyed God’s command, and they tried to take more and hoard it and sock it away. God wanted them to realize that they must trust Him to provide for their needs every day.

In the spiritual realm it is just as true that yesterday’s strength is absolutely useless to fight today’s battles. Sometimes we as Christians rely on our experiences with God in the past. Of course, they were good, and we want to learn from them, but we need a fresh touch of God in our lives every day.

God never gives us a sort of reservoir of grace in our lives, but expects to turn to Him every day for the grace sufficient to meet the challenges of the day. “He is not going to give you the grace to do something tremendous tomorrow. He is going to give you grace to be extraordinary in the ordinary circumstances of today.” (That comes from Alan Redpath, Victorious Praying.)

The phrase, “this day” reminds us as believers that we need daily renewal of our patience. (Sometimes we need hourly renewal, or minutely renewal.) We often get stressed out with anxiety because we try to face the problems of tomorrow today.

Jesus addressed the problem of worry later in the Sermon on the Mount where he said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Seek first the kingdom, and all those other needs will be added to you. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” When we worry about tomorrow we are telling our heavenly Father that we are not sure that He can provide for tomorrow’s bread.

Let me just state that there is a difference between concern and caring, and worry and anxiety. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate. But if I was to say anything concerning caring, it is an other-centered thing where we are concerned for the well-being of others. We care for the well-being of others. We want to help make sure that they do get what they need and what is provided.

Worry tends to be fret. It is fruitless, and it is a bad habit, in general, that many of us get into. Anxiety is the source of many bad physical conditions that people get. Some of us are anxiety-eaters, who then have problems with weight.

They even say that anxiety is a primary cause of stomach cancer and colon cancer. People that cannot let go of worry are for more – like 800 times more – likely to get those kinds of cancer because they hurt themselves with what they do.

The invitation to pray “give us this day our daily bread,” is not carte blanche to pray for everything in the Sears catalog. But the prayer is an invitation to come to God with even with those things that others might call small.

The prayer also expresses our willingness to accept the kind of bread that God supplies. Another translation of this verse might be, “Give us this day bread suited to our need.” (I couldn’t help but think of the skit that we had two weeks ago, and the petitioner said, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and He said, “Why don’t you lay off it?”)

Give us what we need. Proverbs says “Give me neither poverty nor riches – feed me with the food allotted to me.” We might think of this in terms of the convenience food-stores of our day. What do they try to carry?

Many of them are the necessities, the things needed for daily life. They also have a lot of those impulse buys too. But part of the reason why they sprang up was for those who were traveling who forgot something, to be able to get something that they needed.

This is as much about God meeting your need as God enjoying fellowship with you. God knows that by needing Him daily you will also fellowship with Him personally. Prayer is about a relationship with a father and child. The importance of the prayer is that it keeps us in touch with Dad!

There are three essentials that I want to give you, for receiving our daily bread from God. First is obedience. If we want to receive from the hands of God we must live within the will of God. There are several areas in our walk with that are essential that we are obedient in if we expect to receive from God.

We must be obedient in our fellowship with Christ, first of all. Obviously, if we are to be a position to receive anything from the Father we are going to have to be in a right relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus told us, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

Secondly, we need to be right in our relationship to the Church. We cannot be in a position to receive from God if we are not in right relationship with fellow believers. Hebrews 10 says “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Third, we need to be obedient with diligent work habits. The word of God is very explicit in its demands that people be willing to work. I always like to point people to Thessalonians. They were so expecting the day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ, that some of them had given up their jobs, and they were just in church all day, praying and worshiping and raising their hands to God.

That’s a wonderful thing, except they also still wanted to eat. So they were asking everybody for charity. But they were not widows or orphans or disabled in any way. They were able to work just fine, but they just wanted to be in church, in case Christ came at that moment. Paul says if you don’t work, you don’t eat.

Fourthly, we need to have obedience in giving. If we are to be in a position to ask for the daily provision of the Lord, we must have been faithful in the matter of returning a portion of what has been given to us to finance His work. Those who do not break the bondage of greed set themselves up to be pierced through with many troubles (that comes from 1 Timothy 6).

I sometimes wonder what God thinks when we pray for daily bread but are unwilling to live in daily obedience. Many Christians never realize that God’s promises, often in the form of provisions, do come with conditions.

The second thing to consider after obedience is faith Without faith it is impossible to please God. Everything that we receive from God is through faith. What are you trusting God for that only He can bring about?

God tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that your Father knows you need those things: food, shelter, and clothes. What God is attempting to grow in us is a relationship of trust. Will we really trust Him? So much of this prayer, as a whole, is about trust.

The third thing is diligence, or dedication: As we saw in the temptations of Christ, God’s bread is more than physical. We also see how Jesus remained steadfast in his faith and prayers through the trial of forty days of hunger, and then through direct temptation by the devil himself.

We, too, need to remain steadfast in our practice and position in prayer, recognizing that we need the word of God in our lives, each and every day, if we’re going to withstand both the temptations of the devil and the obstacles that the world places in our path, as we try to walk as disciples of Christ.

So if there are 7 petitions in the prayer as a whole, we can understand that the first three deal with God, and giving us the right perspective in the rest of our prayer. “Give us today our daily bread” begins the petitions for ourselves. If we are in the right attitude for prayer, then this next petition sets us in the right relation towards God’s gifts.

God is not a God that wants His followers to be in want, but to notice that our needs are only addressed after we have given our wills over to the Father. I also like to say sometimes, God is not a celestial vending machine, where you punch in the right words and you pull something out that you want.

When God appeared to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1, He told him he could ask for anything he wanted. Think about that for a moment. Most of us, if put in that position, would have asked for things that would be beneficial to us. “I’ll take a hundred million dollars tax-free.” Something like that.

But because Solomon was in the will of God, he asked for something that would help others. He asked for wisdom to lead God’s people into His will. God was so pleased by that, that He also gave him everything else.

Solomon, unfortunately, did not finish completely. He did not always reside in God’s will. He went quite far astray, in fact, sometimes. But the fact of his asking for wisdom shows us how much God appreciates when we ask in His will and we ask for ourselves in relationship with Him.

So the challenge for us today is to apply this in our own lives, as we ask each Sunday, but maybe each day, for daily bread, both for food to survive, for patience to endure, and for the strength of spirit to overcome the trials that face each and every one of us each day.

Then we need to look, out of that provision, to see where we can care for others, and help them with their needs as well. In so doing, then, we fulfill the law of God, where Jesus Christ said, “First you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. And then the second is like it, you shall love your neighbors as yourselves.”

As we do this, then we become a faithful and fit witness to the grace and the love of God. And we bring praise and honor to His name. And that’s, as they say in the Hokey Pokey song, what it’s all about.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: