Give us this day our daily bread

Mat 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Mat 6:10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Mat 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread,
Mat 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Smack bang in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer we ask for our daily bread. Not a big deal, we say, God wants us to eat. Really important, say the name-it-and-claim-it preachers, if you give to God, He will materially bless you, says so right in the Lord’s prayer…we should not be ashamed to ask for things.

Rather curious, I say, that smack bang in the middle of a prayer of spiritual significance, inserted between the omnipotent will of God and the forgiveness of sins, we find a materialistic request that seems out of place.

Why would Jesus follow this, just a few verses later, with:

Mat 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Mat 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Mat 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
Mat 6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

If God knows what we need, should we ask again, especially since I am not aware of any birds praying to be fed?

No, we have to look elsewhere to see if this rather innocent looking sentence that I’ve been praying since childhood (sometimes hearing my naughty cousin muttering under his breath “and send some jam with it.”), has some deeper meaning.

Joh 6:48 I am the bread of life.
Joh 6:49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
Joh 6:50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
Joh 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Joh 6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Jesus, who also gave us the Lord’s Prayer, here equates Himself with the bread of life, the sustaining sacrifice. The key word in the Lord’s Prayer that helps us understand that this is the context in which we should read it, is the word “daily”. Translated from the Greek “epiousios”, it means “tomorrow”, with roots in subsistence and need. The sentence can then be shown as: Give us what we need for our subsistence in the future.

Coupled with Jesus’ exhortation not to concern ourselves with anxiety about how our earthly needs, will be met, and His own description of Himself as the “bread of life”, I think it is safe to say that when we say “Give us this day our daily bread”, we are appealing to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and the subsistence that it offers to our souls, now and in future. Because is that not the principle on which we have the institution of Holy Communion?

1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
1Co 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
1Co 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
1Co 11:25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1Co 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Therefore, next time you recite the Lord’s Prayer, and you come to the part about the daily bread, remember the Bread that gives everlasting life.

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One response to “Give us this day our daily bread

  1. Great post, August; could not agree more. I had always thought of ‘our daily bread’ as a prayer for God to provide us with our basic needs and no more. Only recently, however, it was pointed to me that our daily bread is none other than the spiritual nourishment we receive from the Eucharist (is it ok to call it that outside of Catholicism? I’m not sure).

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