“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Diets that work the best unfortunately say to us, “leave off the bread!” Ugh! Though we often refer to a spartan subsistence as “having only bread and water,” these are perhaps our most refreshing drink and most common food. Bread has been called the “staple of life” and I can vouch that in some restaurants when they bring that fresh, warm small loaf of bread to your table with butter, or olive oil and herbs, it is extremely difficult to resist. And even at home where bread is still baked, the aroma fills the house enticing our stomach to sample the result coming out of the oven. Our perspective is influenced, of course, by the abundance of food in our culture. In other cultures where food is harder to come by, this request to our heavenly Father to “give us this day our daily bread” is a prayer for survival. We can have any type of bread we want, while some in our world will literally eat anything to satisfy an empty and malnourished stomach.
Is it this “bread” that comes to our mind when we pray this petition in the Lord’s Prayer; bread for the body which must have such “fuel” to live? It is not wrong to paraphrase “bread” in this prayer as anything truly needed on a daily basis for sustaining life. God does not want His children to starve or freeze to death. He provided manna, quail and water in the desert for His chosen people, Israel, when the abundance of Egypt was no longer available. What do you think you are asking God to do or give you when you pray according to the pattern of prayer taught by Jesus; when you ask for “daily bread?” The most common use of the word “bread” in the Scripture is just that: bread; the kind you eat, whether leavened or unleavened. Yet I find a striking parallel to the Lord’s Prayer in the recounting of Jesus’ battle with Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). When you compare some of the things we address to God in the Lord’s Prayer with the nature of the battle Jesus fought in the wilderness you will see that parallel. In the matter of bread and what we are requesting, Jesus’ response to Satan helps us understand the “other” bread for which we are desperate no matter our culture or circumstance.
After a fast of 40 days Jesus was as you would expect starving and vulnerable to the temptations of Satan, who was most likely tempting Him all through the 40 days. Yet only the culmination is recorded. Every sin and every temptation for us to sin can be incorporated into the three that Satan brings “to fell” the Savior as recorded in Matthew 4. There were plenty of stones in this wilderness, but bread was definitely scarce. Satan suggested that all Jesus as God’s Son really needed to do was command some of the stones to become bread to meet His need. Jesus’ response is the key to understanding what you and I pray: “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Certainly we may pray for all we truly need to live; food, home, clothing, etc. But if we do not have God and His Word, what is the use of living? It is futile, meaningless, and living is worth nothing more than a “dumb” stone in the desert! He who is “the bread of life” says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and all these things (bread, food, clothing, material necessities) will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Apart from having God as our God, Redeemer and Friend we are but miserable wretches.
“My Father in Heaven, give me what I need for today, but give me more what I need forever. Make my testimony like Job’s, “I have treasured the words of your mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12)
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