Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

Jesus invites us to ask our Father for daily bread.  Just what is this daily bread?  Is it what we can get at the highest priced grocery store in town?  Is it what’s on the menu at the fanciest restaurant in town?  Is it the finest of everything?  NO!  These luxuries might be nice to enjoy occasionally if we can afford them, but they don’t give our lives meaning and purpose.  They don’t draw us closer to God.  Requesting them as our daily bread doesn’t fit in a prayer in which we are asking that God’s name be hallowed, His kingdom come, and sins be forgiven.

Is daily bread, then, the basic stuff necessary to sustain our lives?  If taken without deeper understanding, I would again say, NO!  The sustenance needed to maintain existence doesn’t in itself give our lives meaning and purpose.  Food and clothing and other material goods don’t necessarily draw us closer to God.  As a matter of fact, folks can become quite comfortable with always having enough and become complacent about their relationship with God.

What is this daily bread, then, that Jesus invites us to request from our Father?  It has two aspects.  The first aspect is certainly material.  We are asking for food and clothing, and everything needed to sustain our lives.  But we are doing this with the understanding that these things are provided for us to help enable our growth in relationship with God in this life.  In the context of the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for our daily bread so we can be a part of making God’s name hallowed each day, we can be a part of making His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven each day, we can be spread His forgiving love each day, not so that we can just do our own thing.  We are aware our daily bread comes from God’s gracious hand and we give thanks to Him for it as it is made available for us each day.

The second aspect of daily bread is spiritual.  In the Church, bread is a symbol of spiritual sustenance.  When we come forward for The Lord’s Supper we receive bread, which is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This bread sustains us spiritually.  So when we ask our Father for daily bread, we are asking that we be sustained spiritually each day.  We are asking that we be drawn closer to God and that His will be manifest in our lives each day.

This is the daily bread Jesus invites us to request from our Father.  Sometimes, however, the two aspects of this daily bread seem to clash.  Sometimes we experience suffering and deprivation as we are being brought closer to God and having His will manifest in our lives.  Let’s look at Jesus as our example.  He is the one who told us to ask our Father for daily bread.  Yet, He suffered mightily, had many hungry and homeless days, and finally died with even his clothes stripped from Him.  That doesn’t sound like daily bread was provided for Him.  But, if you think it through, you realize He was sustained with what he needed materially each day so that He was able to truly hallow God’s name and make His kingdom come.  He was sustained spiritually each day through all His suffering.  God made His will powerfully manifest in Jesus’ life and poured His forgiving love through Him bountifully.

So what the daily bread we ask from our Father is really all about is that we will be sustained, even through any suffering and deprivation we experience.  We ask our Father to give us what we need each day so that His name is hallowed by us, His kingdom comes to and through us, and His will is manifest in our lives.  After a tragedy or great difficulty, I often hear from folks, “I don’t know how I would have made it without God providing for me through this time.”  That is daily bread at work—the sustaining, guiding power to get us through the roughest times.  For that we give thanks.

Spreading, Serving and Sharing with You,

Pastor Carl