God is gracious, and provides abundantly for His people. We should not hesitate to ask God for His help, and our prayers should reflect that He is the source of all the good gifts and blessings we have in our lives.
We’re in a series, Pray Like This, which is looking at the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:
Matthew 6:9–13 (ESV) - 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
We’ve gotten through verses 9 and 10, however this morning we’re going to tackle verse 11.
This is the first petition (request) in the prayer which addresses an earthly, physical need: Give us this day our daily bread.
That might not be the longest sentence in scripture, but there’s quite a bit here. Let’s dive in:
The very first word is instructive: Give.
This is a reminder of our dependence and need for God and His provision. All that all we have comes from God.
James 1:17 (ESV) - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
ASK: How may of you have clothes on your back? (Hopefully, everyone!) How many had a ride to church? How many had something to eat, if you wanted it, this morning?
God is the source of all of these blessings. Each and every one. And if you have a place to sleep, friends, family, possessions, and yes, even breath in your lungs, any single one of these things is an evidence that you have been blessed by God.
Of course, sometimes there are seasons of life where some of these things may be harder to come by than others. Maybe we DON’T have much to eat. Maybe we need a job or perhaps our health is struggling.
The fact that Jesus prays “give”, means that it’s appropriate to ask for such things. It’s right, and good, to go to God seeking His provision and blessing.
Now, I’m not advocating a prosperity gospel, where God gives us health and wealth like a vending machine. It doesn’t work that way.
As the old Rolling Stones song goes, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need.”
Just a little farther down in Matthew 6, we see the truth of that statement borne out for the people of God:
Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV) - 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
God does provide for His people. He promises to provide for our needs. And at times, He blesses us above and beyond, even giving us the desires of our hearts when they are in line with His will.
Therefore, when you pray, ask God to GIVE you what is right in His sight.
So, we’ve already established that God is the source of all good and blessing in our lives, and that we should not hesitate to ask him to GIVE us these things.
But, when? How often should we approach Him and bring our requests to Him in prayer?
The answer is clear in the way the verse is composed: Daily.
God delights to hear the prayers of His people, so we need to be MOTIVATED to pray.
This concept of a DAILY dependence on God’s provision is shown clearly in the Old Testament, as Israel faced it’s wilderness experience. As the people of God wandered, seeking the promised land of God, they were not able to farm or cultivate their own food. Instead, they were utterly dependent upon the provision of God, who provided them food each morning.
This “manna” God provided was essentially bread from heaven. They were given a daily supply. And each day, it was meant to be replenished. (In fact, when they saved extra on a day when they weren’t preparing for the Sabbath, it rotted and attracted worms… It really was meant to be a DAILY trust in the Lord’s provision.)
The last verse of Matthew 6 points us to daily dependence on the Lord, in much the same way:
Matthew 6:34 (ESV) - 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
So, what we’ve learned so far is that in our prayer life, we should approach God and ask boldly that he GIVE us the provision we need. And we should do this DAILY, because we need to be ever mindful of who He is, and what He does for us.
But what, specifically, should we pray for? This brings us to the last word of verse 11: Bread.
I know a lot of folks, some who are dear friends, who have incredibly tight understandings of scripture, such that they interpret it to mean exactly what it says, and no more.
For example, we could conclude based on this verse, that God wants us to pray daily for a loaf of Italian Sourdough…. But I don’t think that’s really what’s being said here.
First of all, in Christ’s day, bread was one of the largest primary food groups around, especially for those who were poor and burdened, as so many of Christ’s people were. If we understand the context of the time, it could be he is telling them to pray for their daily FOOD, their daily MEAL.
Not just bread, but some butter to go with it, perhaps. Or put another way, the material provisions needed for the day. As we discussed earlier, if you have food, clothing, shelter, and so on, ALL are a gift from God, and an example of His love and blessing on you.
However, I don’t think this prayer is ONLY about earthly, material things. It’s about those needs, if course. But they only point to a much spiritual need as well. Jesus confirms this in John 6:35:
John 6:30-35 (ESV) - 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Jesus is the fulfillment of our greatest need, and our deepest hunger. He makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God, to find the fullness of our satisfaction in a genuine and renewed relationship with Him.
In Christ we can trust in God’s provision for our needs in a tangible way, not merely as an abstract theology. We can know the one who gave His life for us. We can talk to the one who created and sustains us. And we can walk day-by day, empowered by the Spirit of our savior.
We don’t have to doubt. We don’t have to go without.
Instead, we look to the hope we have in Christ, the one who meets all of our needs. And we pray, asking for His provision each day, because of His great love.
So, what do you need this morning?
Again, I’m not suggesting we approach God like a blank checkbook or a vending machine.
But what do you NEED? What one or two things are the biggest struggles in your life?
I know I have a few in mind for myself. Things I need help with. And I’ve been convicted this week that I don’t spend enough time ASKING for God to GIVE me success in these areas. Asking for God to align my heart with His purpose and will.
Maybe you’re in the same situation.