“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew vi.11 NKJV
The Lord Jesus taught his disciples to pray for their needs, especially for basic needs such as food. The Master did not include anything fancy here—just plain bread, the staff of life. This is not an indictment of those who eat a variety of wholesome and delicious food. However, it certainly reminds us of the essential simplicity that Christian discipleship demands from us. We should eat to live instead of living to eat.
The prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” may not at first make sense to people who have stocked up enough food for many days or have money to buy food for many years. While affluent Christians today recite the Lord’s prayer as a matter of habit or religious obligation, there are probably millions of their brethren who sincerely pray that God will miraculously provide their next meal.
Regardless of what we may think about the necessity of this prayer, the rich and the poor should pray for their daily bread. This will remind everyone that God our Father – not our jobs or businesses or supermarket shelves – is the true Source of all our blessings. God, in his loving care, created the food web for humans and for all creatures. He alone controls a host of cosmic, global and local factors that determine and facilitate food production.
The words “day” and “daily” remind us of the need to live our lives day by day. We need to take every new day as it dawns and live focused on the present. Modern technology makes us believe that we live week by week or, worse still, as a never ending continuum of work, rest and more work. God never makes a mistake. If we consciously live day by day, we will learn to appreciate God’ fundamental unit of time for us.
We are asked to pray for today’s needs instead of worrying about tomorrow’s breakfast. This is not contrary to other Scriptures that teach us the value of planning and saving for our future. Those who have will save a little for the morrow. But what about someone who doesn’t have anything? He will be tempted to worry about tomorrow. This prayer is a reminder to the poorest of our brethren that God will provide for their daily needs. Instead of worrying about tomorrow, they can sleep well. “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? (Matthew vi.25-26)
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Matthew vi.31)
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew vi.34)
The apostle Paul taught the Philippian Christians – a poor church – the need to pray for material needs. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians iv.6-7)
Finally, the prayer for daily bread reminds us of the corporate nature of the Church. We don’t pray for “my daily bread;” we pray for “our daily bread.” As we approach the heavenly Father with the needs of all His children, we may even discover that we are the answer to the prayers of our brethren. When our brethren in Christ suffer today a lack of essential things, how can we, with stuffed pockets, pray this prayer on their behalf without the willingness to share our resources?