Give us each day our daily bread.Luke 11:3
Jesus begins this section of the prayer with the needs of the body. I like that! We have such distorted ideas about prayer that we often feel there is something wrong with praying about physical needs. This is a reflection of a pagan concept of life. The Greeks regarded the body as unworthy of redemption and they therefore mistreated it. They beat their bodies and tormented them. You find this philosophy widespread today, this idea that the body must be subdued by physical torment or suffering, but you never find this in the New Testament.
Prayer must begin on this level. God likes bodies. God engineered and designed them. It is perfectly proper that we pray about the need of the body. Bread here is a symbol of all the necessities of physical life. It stands for all that our physical life demands — shelter, drink, clothing — anything that the body requires. The vital concern in this area is that there be available to us an immediate unbroken supply. So this prayer moves right at the issue when it says,
Give us each day our daily bread. The only limit in this prayer is that we are never to pray for a warehouse — a full supply for a year ahead. We are to pray for one day's supply.
Do we pray daily for our physical needs? Do we pray about the supply of our food, clothing, shelter, and all the physical necessities of life? Do we take time to ask God for them or at least to give thanks for them? Perhaps this has become such a familiar request in the repeating of The Lord's Prayer that we do not take it seriously. It may be that this is the most flagrant and frequent area of Christian disobedience. For, after all, our Lord meant it when he told us to pray
give us each day our daily bread.
Some might argue that Jesus said elsewhere,
Your Father knows that you have need of these things even before you pray (Matthew 6:8), so it is not to inform God of our needs. There are others who say it really makes little difference, whether they pray about physical things or not. They get the necessities of life regardless. Furthermore, some say there are many people who never bother to pray at all and who are eating steak and ice cream while we Christians are trying to get along on hamburgers and jello. What is the point, then, of praying?
If you want to see why, ask yourself,
What happens to me when I neglect this area of prayer? If you are honest, you will see that a slow and subtle change occurs in the heart of a Christian who does not pray about material things, who does not take time to thank God for his daily supply of the necessities and the luxuries of life. What happens is that we take these things for granted, and gradually we succumb to the quite foolish delusion that we can provide these necessities ourselves. We become possessed with the incredible vanity that our wisdom and our abilities have really made these things possible. And when we begin to think that way, we find pride swells within us and a kind of blindness settles upon us, a blindness which darkens our spiritual insight, and we become moody, restless and depressed.
It is we who need to give thanks to God, it is we who must always be reminding ourselves that everything we have comes from his hand, and that any moment he can turn it off if for any reason he may choose, that it is only his grace and his goodness that keep it flowing unhindered to us. The only way that we can avoid this terrible sin of ingratitude is to pray daily for our physical needs.
Father, today I can't but echo these words the Lord Jesus taught me: Give us this day our daily bread.
Do we take for granted the daily supply of our physical needs? Are we neglecting both petition and gratitude? Is that negligence resulting in despair? Or self-congratulation?