GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD
Jesus prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread”. Many have tried to give this some symbolic meaning, but I believe Jesus is giving us a model prayer, and the meaning is straightforward. It is interesting that the word “daily” is a very obscure Greek word found nowhere else in the Bible. A few years ago an old bit of a woman’s grocery list was found with the word on it, and it referred to the things she needed to buy to supply the needs of the next day and the days following. Here Jesus seems simply to be asking the Father to help us to get the basic necessities for our daily existence.
There are two lessons which can be derived from this part of His prayer. First, He is not asking the Father for anything that is not an absolute necessity. No special gifts or extra blessings. He is also not asking the Father to miraculously feed us. It is only a prayer that we might be enabled to feed ourselves. One might note that God feeds the birds, but they have to work very hard to get what He supplies. In one of his letters, Paul actually says if a man will not work then don’t let him eat. God furnishes us with the means, but we must supply the effort to achieve it. All Jesus is asking for is that God supply us with the bare necessities. Anything more would be to supply our human desires, and that does not come from God.
Let us note here that Jesus is saying that it is not wrong to ask God for the things we really need. We might add to that the healing of one that is ill, or even the wisdom to understand His will. It is true that God knows our every need and loves us enough to fulfill them, but, while He has asked us to pray, we do not know His ultimate will and how He wants to run His world. So we must leave the final answer always up to Him. The main purpose of prayer is not to get what we want but to recognize the presence of God and praise Him by coming to Him in a prayer of faith and thanksgiving .
Jesus starts His model prayer with adoration to the Father and follows that with a prayer that more people will make their life on earth be like life in Heaven, where the only standard is the will of God. The Kingdom is all who follow God’s will on earth, as it is the standard of Heaven. At this point Jesus makes His only reference to earthly desires. “Give us this day our daily bread”.
It always disturbs me when I hear some preacher say, “God wants you to be rich and happy”. Such ignores the Bible’s words that say that the love of money is the root of all evil and that it is almost impossible for a rich man to enter Heaven. God would never give us things that make it hard to get to Heaven, nor things that lead to evil.
Such preaching is designed to say what the man of the world wants to hear rather than the Word of the Lord. Jesus warned His disciples that the world would hate them if they preached what He taught. The Christian message is a message of sinlessness and self sacrifice. This is not what the man of the world wants to hear.
In this model prayer, Jesus gives minimum attention to our physical desires and needs. A request for our daily bread is a request for God to continue to supply us with the ability to get what we need to sustain our physical life, while placing all His real emphasis on praising the Father and asking His help in having us achieve His spiritual qualities. The will of God is a reflection of His nature, for He is Spirit and to do His Will is to imitate Him in goodness, mercy, righteousness, love, etc. It should cause us to revise the form and purpose of the prayers we pray for our physical desires and thanksgiving to Him for giving us things that actually alienate us from the spiritual dimension in which God dwells.
Heaven is not a place where God sits on a throne and rules His subjects. God is Spirit and is everywhere as David says in the 139th Psalm. The will of God is His likeness, and this is what Heaven is. To go to Heaven and be with Him, we must desire the things that God is, for that is what the dimension of Heaven is. If you do not love goodness, mercy and peace, then Heaven is not a dimension that your spirit desires, and when this earthly body is gone and only your spirit is left, it cannot go to dwell in a dimension it does not desire. Think on that!!
That is why Jesus spent so little of His model prayer asking God for physical blessings and so much of it on requests for Spiritual development and love and adoration for God Himself.