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Our Daily Bread

"Give us this day our daily bread." -Matthew 6:11

Bread is interesting. Almost every known culture has some type of bread, whether it is a flatbread or leavened, whether it is made with wheat flour or corn flour or something else. Can you imagine a world without any type of bread? No sourdough, no sliced sandwich bread, no tortillas, no naan, no arepas, nothing. Bread is part of every culture because it is a basic, an essential, of human cuisine.

When we look at Jesus' words in Matthew 6:11, it might seem strange to us that this very specific food would appear. But Jesus is not only talking about literal bread. Let's look at four takeaways from this petition of Jesus in the Lord's Prayer.

God wants to know our needs

The first thing from this verse that sticks out and is probably not new to anyone is that God wants to know our daily needs! Your daily needs are not too small for him - It is not true that God has “bigger fish to fry” than your seemingly mundane or small daily needs. But God can handle your daily needs, big or small and he can handle those of our neighbors at the same time. Do we live as though we believe this is true?

Jesus is teaching us that praying for ourselves is more than okay, it is expected daily. And not just for bread, right? Martin Luther teaches us that daily bread is everything that we need in this earthly life, such as food, clothing, and shelter, upright and faithful rulers, good weather, good friends, and faithful neighbors. God wants to hear from us about all of this, and God cares about our earthly life. This petition of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us this.

According to Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist, he argued that survival needs must be satisfied before the individual can satisfy the higher needs. The higher up the hierarchy, the more difficult it is to satisfy the needs associated with that stage, because of the interpersonal and environmental barriers that inevitably frustrate us.

Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. Once that level is fulfilled, the next level up is what motivates us, and so on. The human body cannot function optimally if physiological needs are not satisfied. Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.

So much of science and what psychologists say about human needs and behavior points to what we see we, as humans need, in scripture. So Maslow was spot on with what Jesus is saying we need to be praying for daily - Our daily bread. Our daily basic needs and it is no coincidence that this is one of the beginning verses. God cares for his people - He created us, He knows what we need.

We should trust God to meet our daily needs

In Exodus 16, the Israelites experience God's provision through a dramatic miracle: he provides bread for them every day called manna as they wander through the desert. They are instructed to only collect the amount that is needed for that day. Yet the Israelites have trouble trusting in the Lord's provision, or being content with it.

CS Lewis says “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day”. - The truth is, reliance on God for our daily bread or basic needs is more than just money, or food on our table.

Relying on God for our safety, our health – we may be safe or we may be healthy but could be fighting thoughts and feelings otherwise for many reasons. When we choose to rely on God for our daily bread, we grow in sanctification as we rely on him for our actual safety and perceived safety. We rely on him for the strength we need just for that day, maybe even for that hour or minute.

By praying “give us today our daily bread” - we are learning to rely on God, each and every day.

We should be praying for daily bread for all

This verse is not just for us but instead is a prayer for daily bread for our neighbors too. Pastor James Lawrence says “The Lord’s Prayer never uses the words “me” or “my”. It is always “us” and “our”. And that’s important. This is a prayer to be prayed by the community, for the community. Give us this day our daily bread.”

This petition can’t really be prayed by itself, in other words – it must be prayed with the previous petitions, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” They are all connected. And God’s kingdom has not come in its fullness as long as there is one of us in this world who is in need.

John Wesley once said “there is no holiness but social holiness”. We were created by Divine community to live in Community - if we are trusting God and desperate for God to give us today our daily bread, to meet our needs, we need to be making the same petition on behalf of others and the prayer Jesus taught us to pray clearly petitions on behalf of others too.

Social workers have a core belief when working with difficult clients: They will never get anything done until basic needs are met. The same way that toddlers often need a snack or a nap to make them feel better, adults often are missing something from their basic needs when they are feeling off or dysregulated.

Toddlers and adults are both human, and we could learn from the desperation of a toddler for a snack by being desperate for God to provide our daily bread. When we become desperate for God to provide our daily needs and to provide for the daily needs of others, we live into the fullness of being a child of God.

We do not live by bread alone

We were created for more.

Do we really, honestly understand what it means to pray for our daily bread unless we connect it to Jesus?

When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, after having fasted for forty days, the first temptation he faced was to turn a stone into bread. But he responded to this temptation with the well-known words from Deuteronomy: “One does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Jesus is the more - there is more to life than just our basic needs being met. There is even more to life than safety, security and happiness.

John 6:30-35 says “ So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’[a]”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus is our daily bread - he will provide our every need.

Every time we pray this prayer that Jesus taught us, we are praying not just for our daily needs, but we are also reminding ourselves that what we need, more than anything else, is what we find in the one who taught us this prayer, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As we reflect on how God has provided our daily bread, I would invite you to ask God to search your heart. Are you relying on Him to provide? Is Jesus your daily bread? And do you pray this for yourself and others - wanting all people to be given their daily bread, both in the form of basic needs and to know Jesus, their daily bread?

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