Give us this day our daily bread

Jesus says, “When you pray, say, ‘…Give us this day our daily bread….’”

Luther explains, “What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”

Salvageable adds: Daily bread brings to mind the manna that God sent to his people in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land. Six days a week (but never on the Sabbath) miraculous bread appeared around their camp. It met their daily needs but could not be saved for the future.

So we pray for bread, but not for desserts. We pray for daily bread, confident that if God will supply our needs today, we can ask tomorrow for what we need—we take one day at a time. We pray for our daily bread, remembering that we have fellow Christians around the world, some of whose needs are more desperate than our own.

As Luther reminds us, daily bread encompasses every need that we have in this life—things we pray about often, and things we neglect to mention in our prayers most days. And, as Luther reminds us, God supplies all these things whether we bother to ask for them or not. Even evil people receive daily bread, for God has provided enough food in the world to meet the needs of everyone living. It is not distributed evenly; God expects those who have more than enough to share with those who have less than enough. When we pray for our daily bread, we might also consider how our prayer is being answered as God gives us enough for ourselves and enough to share with others, who may or may not be praying the same prayer.

God can do whatever he pleases, but God chooses to work through creation and through the people he has placed into creation. We pray for daily bread, and we thank God for the food we eat. Yet God has provided us with bread through the labor of farmers and millers and bakers. He has given each of us abilities so we can work to earn money and spend that money at the store on bread and other things we need. The farmer prays for daily bread but continues to plant and harvest. In the same spirit, we pray for the good things we want and need—for ourselves and for our neighbors—but we also cooperate with God by doing what we are able to do for our own benefit and for the good of others. And when we can do nothing else, we continue to pray, and even in that way we cooperate with God as he accomplishes his will in this world.

The word “daily” applies to all four of the concluding petitions of this prayer. We sin daily, so we seek forgiveness daily. We need not continue to repent for yesterday’s sins—we repented yesterday and they were forgiven yesterday. We do not seek forgiveness for tomorrow’s sins—that would mock God’s grace, for us to plan future sins. We pray only about today’s sins. And we forgive others daily, neither remembering yesterday’s sins nor dreading tomorrow’s sins against us. We ask God to lead us and deliver us every day, trusting that he hears our prayers today and answers them today. Trusting God, we live one day at a time, confident that we are safe in the Lord’s hands today. J.

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4 thoughts on “Give us this day our daily bread

  1. Your statement “for God has provided enough food in the world to meet the needs of everyone living. It is not distributed evenly; God expects those who have more than enough to share with those who have less than enough. When we pray for our daily bread, we might also consider how our prayer is being answered as God gives us enough for ourselves and enough to share with others, who may or may not be praying the same prayer.”

    It is simply amusing that you think like this. Contrary to your rose-coloured glasses your Christian God does not have it all worked out, your prayers will do absolutely nothing, people may share their food with other families but there is simply and clearly not enough food for everyone living.

    Do you think the majority of the poor people give thoughts for any god as 21,000 children die every day from starvation and diseases? hunger is still the world’s biggest health problem and it is getting worse due to population increases, global climate changes that contribute to destroying more crops, political turmoil, corruption and the lack of aid that are the reality for these poor people.

    It is about time you and your brethren understood that praying is only about making yourself feel good, it will never fix the ills of the world.

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    • Thank you very much for reading and responding.
      The world’s food supply has actually been increasing faster than its human population, thanks to scientific research and experimentation. Distribution is still the problem. Often charitable efforts to provide food have been stymied by governments hostile toward their own populations or hampered by their own greed. The root of the problem is not God’s fault, but is deeply rooted in human sin.
      You are right to suggest that praying without acting is a problem for Christians. On the other hand, often talking to God about the problems in this world is the first step toward Christian action to provide food for the hungry and help to correct other problems caused by human sin. God often invites Christians to pray and then makes Christians the answer to their own prayers. I understand why, seen from the outside, Christian prayer appears to be “making yourself feeling good” without fixing the ills of the world, but the reality is often the reverse of that appearance. J.

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      • It is my pleasure to respond to these types of interesting comments and I thank you for your answer.
        You may be right about food supplies increasing globally, however the weather often wipes out huge areas of food crops that these people depend on, such as the temperatures have been consistently higher in East Africa in recent years, part of a trend seen in Africa and around the world due to climate change, so food supply is very inconsistent in these poor countries.

        It is also true in what you say about governments hostile toward their own populations but also includes wars, insect plagues, plant diseases etc that all contribute to the problems.

        Your claim this is all solely due to human sin and God is not at fault is an extremely biased way of directing blame. God is the first one to be thanked and praised for anything good that happens, however he gets to sidestep the bad things. You cannot have it both ways, how can you believe unsubstantiated one sided scripture, how has this over-ruled your common sense?

        The logical and obvious answer is that God is either responsible for everything that happens or responsible for absolutely nothing that happens, and we all know this is what the evidence shows.

        I agree that some Christians may be motivated to do something about starvation due to their faith in God and of course their own personalities. If God could motivate all the worlds Christians I think the problem would be solved, however like I said if he is unable to control anything, rational thinking suggests that is the reality on our planet today.

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      • “God is the first one to be thanked and praised for anything good that happens, however he gets to sidestep the bad things. You cannot have it both ways….” I understand why you say that, but I respectfully disagree. An all-powerful and good God could choose to make a world in which rebellion and disobedience are impossible and no one gets hurt. But he chose instead to make a world in which people can choose to obey or disobey, can love or refuse to love. An all-knowing God could have chosen not to create, foreseeing sin and suffering, but he looked at the people who would exist and decided they were worth the effort to create and to redeem. A loving God could have chosen to allow evil decisions and evil acts without consequences, so no one would get hurt, but he felt that people should see the consequences of evil so they would know enough to prefer the good.
        Jesus said that wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, storms, and crop disease and insect pestilence would occur in the world because of sin. When people choose to fight God, they are out of harmony with creation, polluting it by their evil choices. Moreover, because evil is unfair, the bad things that happen are not deserved by the victims, but many times those who are guilty escape the consequences of their evil (until the Last Day arrives) while the innocent suffer.
        Yet God does not step back and watch evil happen and sigh and shrug and turn away. He limits evil (as attested in the book of Job). He brings good out of evil, including the opportunity for people to resist evil by doing good (such as feeding the hungry). Most important, God entered his creation and became a victim. Though the Son of God never sinned and did not deserve to suffer, he was abandoned, rejected, tortured, and killed. By enduring the consequences of evil, Jesus opened a path for all people to escape evil and find a home in a new and perfect creation.
        I would reject the God you describe, who gets to sidestep the bad things. I honor and praise a God who endures the bad things along with other victims and then rescues the victims of evil. That makes all the difference in the world.
        Thank you again for taking part in this conversation. J.

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