Thus far in our “When You Pray…” series, we have focused on honoring God, establishing that he is the Father of us all, he is holy, he owns the kingdom, and it is his will that is to be carried out. God-centered, rather than me-centered. Father, hallowed, kingdom, will. Now we shift our focus just slightly, and we see that the heavenly Father is our benefactor.
Our Daily Bread
With Jesus teaching the disciples to pray each day for their daily bread, their daily sustenance, the minds of the disciples had to have flashed back to God leading the Hebrew people through the wilderness, providing them day after day with the manna that fell from the sky.1 You may recall that the people were allowed to gather only as much as would sustain them for one day. If they gathered enough for a second day, the manna would rot and be unpalatable. The only exception to this was the sixth day. Sixth-day manna would last for two days so that the people would not need to gather manna on the Sabbath.
Initially, it must have required a measure of faith to believe that the manna would rain from heaven every day. Similarly, the people’s clothing did not wear out, and the soles of their sandals never wore through. Imagine not having to purchase shoes or clothing for forty years.2 In praying, “Give us today our daily bread,” we are proclaiming that God is our provider and sustainer. We trust him to meet our most basic needs. The apostle Paul told the church at Philippi, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”3
We depend on the love and goodness of God, and we take nothing for granted. Consider the rich meaning of this simple phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread,” as you read through this discourse from Jesus.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
– Matthew 6:25-33, NASB
We trust God for it, but Jesus is now teaching us to pray for it. “Father, give us this day, our daily bread,” because in doing so, we emphasize and remind ourselves of our dependence on him.
1. Exodus 16:4-31
2. Deuteronomy 29:5
3. Philippians 4:19