From the Pastor’s Desk
“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
Matthew 6:7-8, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this …”
With this week’s devotion we move to consider the second half of the Lord’s Prayer – to three petitions focused more on our horizontal relationships and daily needs. In Matthew 6:11, Jesus teaches us the 4th petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” There are several things to take to heart as we reflect on Jesus’ teaching.
First, we learn that God cares for our daily needs. Specifically he cares for our daily physical and material needs. To ask for our ‘daily bread’ is to ask for God’s provision. It is not to ask for wealth or poverty, but simply to ask for God’s daily provision. It is to ask that God will see us through today (Prov 30:8-8; 27:1).
Second, like the second petition, “Thy kingdom come,” this petition is much broader than we often realize. It is a sweeping petition. To pray for our ‘daily bread’ is at the same time to pray for the multitude of factors involved in the production of our daily bread. For example, to pray for ‘our daily bread’ is to pray for the stability of government, the stability of society, the prosperity of our labor, the faithful managing of households, and on and on.
Third, as we make this petition we are reminded that God cares for the material world. Simply put, it is a reminder that we are not Gnostics (Gnosticism was an ancient 2nd and 3rd century heresy that saw the material world as inherently evil). God created the world in six days and declared his creation ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31; Psalm 104:24-25). The Lord is concerned about our material world and it does not necessarily demonstrate spiritual maturity to eschew the petitions for physical needs.
Fourth, it is important to recognize that this petition (and indeed the two petitions to follow) are not and end in themselves. That is to say, we pray for our daily bread in order that we might better hallow God’s name, obey our Lord, etc. Or to put it another way, we pray the second half of the Lord’s Prayer in order that we might better fulfill the first half. The ultimate in the Christian life is not our daily provision, rather it is the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17).
Fifth and finally, we ask the important question: “What spiritual graces and virtues is Christ teaching us as we make this petition?” I would suggest at least two: dependence and contentment. By making this prayer, we are learning to rest in his provision – to depend upon him. We are to live each and every moment of our lives in absolute dependence upon our good and sovereign God (1 Cor 4:7; James 1:17). To live in light of this prayer is to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). And if we are to depend upon God for his provision, we are also to rest content with his provision (Matt 6:25-26; Phil 4:12-13; 1 Tim 6:6-7). We are called to give thanks in all circumstances and to rest content in the Lord. His way his good. His way is right. Brothers and sisters, may we pray for our ‘daily bread.’ May we give thanks for our daily bread. May we grow in our dependence upon Christ and our contentment in Christ. And may we remember that the provision of our daily bread is to the end that we might hallow God’s name and give him glory!