He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
My wife Rita and I were at Paradise Bakery when she returned to our both saying, “Water from Rock.” “What?” I said. “Water from Rock,” she repeated. “That’s what we should call the ministry.” Rita knew I had been doing workshops on the Exodus emphasizing that God knows how to lead and provide for us in our wilderness journeys. I had been teaching about how God brought forth water for His people in the desert wilderness, and provided bread for their journey.
The fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer is based on the assurance that God can “provide a table in the wilderness….[and]…give bread” (Psalm 78:19-20). Thus, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray: “Give us each day our daily bread.” N. T. Wright cautions about the danger of rushing too quickly in our praying to this fourth petition:
“We come to prayer, aware of urgent needs, or at least wants. It’s tempting to race through the Lord’s Prayer, as far as ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ so that we can then take a deep breath and say, ‘Now here: when it comes to daily bread, there are some things I simply must have.’ And then off we go into shopping list..” (N. T. Wright, The Lord and His Prayer)
But as we have first sought to align ourselves with God’s Kingdom purposes and His will being done on earth, it is appropriate that we then ask God for today’s needs.
It is interesting that in the ancient papyri the Greek word epiousios, translated “daily bread,” was found on a first century housewife’s shopping list. She was listing the supplies she would need for the day. So, we ask the Father for what we need for today. There is a seeming redundancy in asking God “this day” for “daily bread.” But by emphasizing the daily nature of the bread, Jesus is likely alluding to God’s daily provision of manna bread for His people in the wilderness. They were only to collect the bread they would need for that day, and nothing more. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction (Exodus 16:4). Sadly, God’s people did not follow the Lord’s instruction, so when they gathered more bread than needed for the day “it bred worms and became foul” (Exodus 16:20).
Jesus instructs us to ask today for the bread we need for today because He is a ‘present moment’ person. He tells disciples not to worry about tomorrow and what they will eat, drink, or wear, because the heavenly Father knows what they need (Matthew 6:31-32). Rather, Jesus says, they should seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
I am encouraged by Dallas Willard’s teaching about praying for our daily bread:
“The emphasis is on provision today of what we need for today. This is because God is always present today, no matter what we need for today. His reign is the Eternal Now. So we do not ask him to provide what we will need for tomorrow…Today I have God and he has the provisions. Tomorrow it will be the same. So I simply ask for what I need for today or ask now for what I need now.” (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy)
Over the years I have learned that the Lord can lead and provide for us in our wilderness journeys. God really does know how to bring water from a dry desert rock, and how to rain down bread for us in the wilderness. It is as much a miracle today when God does it as it was in the ancient exodus! God does care about your needs today and wants you ask Him for them!
I have underlined two verses in my Bible that might also be an encouragement to you. They are the apostle Paul’s word to the Philippian Christians, asking them to translate any worry about tomorrow into prayer for today:
Philippians 4:19: “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Wow! Did you see that! God “will fully satisfy every need” we have! Like David we will find: “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1 New International Version)
Grace and peace,