Jesus was the Son of God. He was God in the flesh. He could create whatever He wanted to. Yet He prayed. He prayed to His Father so that He could be who He was supposed to be, not so the resources of heaven would make Him more independent. We have a tendency to pray to God so He can get us out of a scrape. Jesus knew this about us, so on a couple of occasions Jesus gave us prayer template. He basically said, “You should pray like this:
‘Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” (Matthew 6:9-13)
We are breaking that prayer down in our devotionals this week.
Today we look at the third part of the prayer. “Give us today our daily bread.”
Sustenance is a gift. We were designed by God to work. Work is good. It gives us value. God told Adam in the Garden of Eden that he was to tend it. After the great sin and banishment, God told Adam that he would work harder for his sustenance. The ground would yield its fruit, but it would be much more difficult. The book of Proverbs is full of challenges for people to be hard workers and not slothful. We are to take care of our families and responsibilities. Even in the New Testament the apostle Paul told the early Christians that men should work hard to make a living to support themselves and their families. In fact, he went pretty strong on this, “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat. For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others. Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ that quietly working, they may eat their own food.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) In another place he said, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
Those are strong words, and likely not well accepted by slackers. But the fact that we are to work hard and provide for our families does not mean we need to rely less on the gift of God that is our sustenance. The food we eat ultimately came from God. Sometimes we are in a place where nothing is working out for us, and we go broke. We lose everything. Perhaps due to a disaster we find ourselves with nothing. We cry out to God for help, and all of a sudden people help us out with free food. It is easy to see that as a gift. But even when you work hard and act responsibly, your food is a gift from God. God gave you the strength, talents, and opportunity to work hard, make money, and provide for your family. Faith in God is a great reward in itself. So no matter how successful you become, know that every day, every breath, every meal is a gift.
Prayer is a daily act. If sustenance is always a gift from God, and we need sustenance on a daily basis… we should pray every day. Sometimes we may pray that God will take care of our future, and that is alright. But our daily need should keep us before Him on a daily basis. The Bible tells us that we should, “Pray constantly.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Some of us eat constantly. And if every meal is a gift, we should be praying regularly. We like to be independent. Most of us don’t like to have to ask anyone for things. And none of us would want to go back to the same well every day to get what we feel like we should be able to get on our own. People pray more when there is no food in the cupboard. And when God provides money for them, they usually stock the pantry. No one has $10,000 in the bank and goes grocery shopping every day.
But we should be praying every day. We already breathe freely, inhaling and exhaling thousands of times per day without stopping to pray for each one. So is it that much of a burden to go to the Lord every day and talk to Him about the things you are thankful for as well as the things you need? Some people can go days or weeks without praying to God. But they sure know how to find Him in a crisis. If the only time you pray to God is during a crisis… your life will probably be one crisis after another. You need God’s help every day. Pray every day.
Daily provision is transformational. We really aren’t wired to be dependent on the resources for food every day. But in this prayer Jesus refers to ‘daily bread’. Now in the Old Testament we find that there was a period of time in the nation of Israel as they came out of slavery in Egypt heading to the Promised Land where they woke up every day to find their daily food. This was a special kind of food with a special warning. Each person was to get their food from in front of their tent every morning. But they were only supposed to get enough food for that day. If someone had the bright idea that they would get enough for three days, they would wake up the second day to find that their food had spoiled. (On Friday they were to get enough for Friday and Saturday, as Saturday was a holy day to them and there would be no food outside their tent.) So when Jesus mentioned ‘daily bread’, the Jewish disciples listening understood the concept.
We might get scared if we had to be focused every day on getting food for that day. It may seem like a better plan to ask God to give us our monthly bread, or our yearly bread. “God fill our bank account so we never have to worry about food again,” may be a prayer most people would like to pray. But even in that prayer we find worry. And worry is not of God. Faith is. We pray so God will build our faith, not our bank account. When our bank account is full, and our pantry is stuffed, we tend to trust more in those things and less on God. Daily bread is a way for God to build our faith. If God filled your pantry for a year, how often would you ask Him for the gift of food? How often would you even thank Him for the gift of food? 72 days into your year-supply, would you be as thankful? Would your faith be stronger? “Daily bread” is a way to build our faith and keep us thankful.
When you pray today, pray for today. God is active in the today. Tomorrow is not promised, but the same One who cares for the daily needs of birds, cares for yours as well. This life is a gift. Recognize your Provider. Ask Him to supply your daily needs. Watch Him do it, and watch your faith grow. Don’t get nervous. The same Jesus also said, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink… Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (parts of Matthew 6:25-34)
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.