"Our Daily Bread" (Part 1 of 4)
From the fifth lecture in the audio seminar Praying Biblically
The Disciple’s Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer) embodies in a quintessential way all the major themes of Jewish prayer that were so familiar to Jesus. As an observant Jew, living in the land of Israel in the 1st century, Jesus prayed daily disciplined prayers as well as extemporaneous spontaneous prayers. Among the disciplined prayers is what is called the Standing Prayer (the Amidah). It is also called the 18 benedictions (Smoneh Esreh).
The Lord’s Prayer (as we have come to call it) is a kind of condensed representation of the great themes of those 18 benedictions. We have been looking at this subject in order to prepare our hearts to pray more earnestly, more fervently and more frequently.
We speak of our very identity in Christ with the opening: “Our Father.” We speak of our responsibility when we say: “may your name be sanctified” (may your name be treated as holy). We speak of our destiny and our priority when we say: “may your will be done.” We are essentially asking that the Father’s kingship—godly ruling and reigning be extended into our life. That is the apex of this prayer.
The prayer is that God through Jesus Christ as King would extend his rule and reign in your life, that he would come with ever greater authority over every dimension of your life—your interpersonal relationships, your financial relationships, your business, your body. The prayer is that in every way Jesus would rule as King over you. You are praying: “Come Jesus as king and take greater authority in my life. Not only in my life, but in our community and indeed in our world may your will be done.” Our priority is to see that the will of God is done in our lives.
Today we are looking at a very important and intriguing phrase in the Lord’s Prayer rendered in the King James version as “give us this day our daily bread.” We come to this phrase which speaks not so much of identity, nor of responsibility, nor of destiny or priority. It speaks of dependency. If you truly want God’s will to be done in your life, you must have an attitude of trust that he is a Father to you who is eager to give you good gifts and who at every turn will guide your steps. He is a Father who will protect your foot and lead you into ways of righteousness so that his name may be sanctified.
You pray: “Father, today give us what is needed. Give us the bread (lechem).” Beit-lechem—Bethlehem—comes from lechem. Jesus came as the bread of life to Bethlehem (the house of bread). It is an interesting word that has many connotations and implications. It is more that just literal bread—obviously. It is a metaphor for that which sustains you, not just physically but also emotionally—the spiritual. Whatever you need, God is sufficient to provide that need on a daily basis. And in some respects he wants us to be focused on the daily basis, rather than on the long term, because he wants to teach us the lesson of dependency and trust upon him, and not the dependency and reliance upon our own cleverness, wisdom or strength.
Jesus was constantly referring to scriptures from his Bible. He would hint at them. He would allude to them. He is referring to Proverbs 30:7-9 when he says: “give us today the bread that is sufficient for us.” To paraphrase verse 9: “Father may I not have too much, otherwise I become self-sufficient, proud and arrogant, and say in effect by my conduct: ‘who is God.’ Or let me not be poor, because then I will be tempted to steal to meet my needs, and in so doing I would profane your holy name. Rather give me what is sufficient for today.”
This is a radical mindset that we do not begin to approach. I do not and I suspect you do not either. We have no conception what it is like to truly depend upon God for sufficiency for each day. Jeanette and I in our ministry years ago went through times of great testing and difficulty. We did learn what it means to depend upon God, more or less on a weekly basis to meet our bills when we were not certain if we would have sufficient funds. But who among us has come to the place where daily you turn to God?
Sometimes we approach it when we go through testings and trails. When my father passed away a few years ago unexpectedly, it was such a shock to my mother that it was very difficult for her for weeks and even months. My parents had been married 47 years and were very close and loving. My mother learned the lesson of the Father giving her daily sufficiency. Just getting by day to day, not worrying about the next week, not worrying about the next month, or how she was going to survive the loneliness and the anxiety, but just daily sufficiency from the Father.
* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.