"Our Daily Bread" (Part 2 of 4)
From the fifth lecture in the audio seminar Praying Biblically
The biblical phrase: “Give us this day our daily bread” means that day by day your Father in heaven is sufficient to meet your needs. It is like this old adage: “life inch by inch is a cinch, but by the yard it is hard” because we need take life by the inch. Inch by inch, day by day, your Father in heaven is sufficient to meet your needs. That is if you are committed to seeing his kingship rule in your lives.
I add that little statement on the end, but it is actually quite important. Jesus is more than a fireman that you can call on a heavenly 911. He is the bread of life and if you are partaking of him, you have life and you have guidance and sufficiency each day not just in times of calamity. The idea here is the emphasis upon today. This word daily is very obscure and subject to 13 different translations or meanings. From the Hebraic point of view it seems that Jesus is saying that you (collectively) should pray to the Father for what is needed—what is sufficient. The emphasis upon this petition is today. Deuteronomy 15:7-8 says: “give him what is sufficient for his need.” In other words—make up that for which he lacks. This seems the idea behind this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
In Exodus 16 we have the story of the manna, the gathering of lechem each day. Obviously, this is the great image that Jesus has in mind when he speaks of daily bread. Israel was in the wilderness where they learned dependency upon God. In their arrogance they did not get to go into their inheritance as speedily as God intended for them. They could have gone into the promised land, and according to Scripture could have entered into that promised land even without battles if they had been humble and depended upon God. In their murmuring, arrogance and idolatry they had to spend 40 years in the wilderness. God said: “I put you there for 40 years in order to humble you.” In humility you can pray: “Father give me today what is sufficient for me.” If it is from the heart, God responds to that.
During the time of trial and testing in the wilderness God met their needs with daily bread called manna. In Hebrew it is a play on words—the Israelites walked out and saw this stuff lying on the ground and they said: “what is this?” In Hebrew “what is this” is manhu. Thus, manna literally means “what is it?”. God gave them “what is it.” And what it is, is sufficiency for each day—so each day they gathered only enough for that day. God overcame that dual impulse for poverty and for greed. If you took more than what is necessary for the day it would spoil. There was only one occasion each week where you would take a double portion—on Friday in anticipation of the Sabbath so you would not have to labor on the Sabbath.
This is the image behind this phrase—that God wants us to be in a manna-relationship with him. He wants us to realize that we just need to think of the sufficiency for today and our dependency upon him. The issue in all of this is that God is our source and our salvation. He who created the day also created its sustenance. The issue is that God is the source, both naturally and supernaturally.
There are those scholars who believe they know what the manna was—some kind of growth on certain kinds of trees. It does not matter whether that is so or not. Our distinction between natural and supernatural is an artificial distinction. If I have a financial need and someone gives me money to meet that need, that is a gift from God. I do not have to walk out and stumble across a gold coin in the grass for it to be from God. If it comes from you, it is from God through you. You are just the steward and the prosperous one who gives generously. So if it comes naturally or supernaturally, it comes from God because he is the source.
The essence or the emphasis of this phrase of the prayer is that God is our sufficiency and our allotted portion. He provides for those whom he redeems. In him is our source and in him is our contentment. The sages would say: “Who is a wealthy man? He who is content with what God gives him.” I have known a few wealthy men in my time. I am thinking of a man right now who was extraordinary wealthy. He was not content. Contentment does not come from your bank account. Contentment does not come from your mansions. Contentment comes from the peace of God in your heart.
Look at the attitude that the early Christians had in 1 Timothy 6:6-10. The difference in our attitude and the attitude of the early believers is absolutely shocking to me. We do everything we can to accumulate, to acquire and to retain, and we get very attached to our possessions. God wants us to be very attached to him, our possessions are simply there for our use, and should be easily and readily be given up—if it is appropriate. Hebrews 10:34 says that these early believers joyfully accepted the plundering of their property because God was their sufficiency. We might as well be talking about creatures from Mars, because to you and me living in this culture, that is absolutely unimaginable. It makes for nice preaching, but in reality I do not know if any of us are there.
* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.