Boy, it would be easier if all we had to do was pray for our weekly bread, wouldn’t it?
Or monthly bread. Quarterly bread, even.
But that’s not the instruction Jesus gave us. He said to pray like this: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
We don’t get to ask for it in batches. We don’t get to say, “Give us this day our daily bread, and could You throw in the next few days as well because I have a lot to do this week and I’m going to be a little too busy to ask for it.”
Daily bread. When it comes time to consider how often we come to God in prayer, we should also consider how long we’d enjoy going without food.
* * *
It’s so easy for me to forget to ask God to supply my needs for the day. That’s why I’m writing this. I struggle to remember it. Oh, it’s easy to remember my immediate, pressing needs—the problems I’m actively stressing about—but my fridge already has food in it. My prayer tonight isn’t going to make the ingredients for breakfast appear in my pantry tomorrow.
…At least, not directly.
And that’s the whole point of it, I think.
Praying for our daily bread forces us to stop and reflect on where our daily bread comes from. The food in your fridge—that’s a blessing. Where did it come from? Why is it there? And more to the point, who has the power to ensure more of it shows up tomorrow—and the day after, and the day after?
On the brink of entering the Promised Land, Moses warned Israel:
“Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end—then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.'”
That’s the natural way of it when things start going well. But they don’t even have to be going extraordinarily well. I don’t know about you, but over the past couple years, my silver and gold have not been multiplying. I don’t have flocks. My house has cracks in it. I had to have a main waste line replaced and a transmission rebuilt. Things keep breaking, prices keep rising. I’m playing a constant game of chicken with my credit limit.
(I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that, all that aside, God has still blessed us in countless ways, including through friends and family.) I guess the point I’m trying to make is, my heart is not particularly at risk of being lifted up in pride at my nonexistent wealth.
Most of you are probably in a pretty similar boat.
And yet, I find there are still ridiculous things I can think in my heart. “My cash and my job that I work have given me the ability to pay for these groceries.” Even trying to claw our way out of debt, I can still look at our household needs in terms of what I need to do, what I need to make happen.
But it’s not true.
“And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
The things we’re able to accomplish, the blessings we have, the food that’s in our fridge—where does the power to make it all happen come from?
It comes from the One who provides us with our daily bread. It comes from the One we need to be talking regularly to about our daily bread.
* * *
Christ chewed the Laodiceans out for believing themselves to be wealthy and in need of nothing when in fact they were “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). It’s dangerous to view that as an attitude we can only fall into with excessive physical wealth—because at its core, it’s an attitude that comes from forgetting where the good things in life come from.
Even the good things we need but don’t have yet.
Agur the son of Jakeh wrote:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches—
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.”
Agur recognized that there was a sweet spot in having only “the food allotted to me.” Too much, and we can forget where it came from. Too little, and we can get angry at God for not providing it. It’s possible to have wealth or poverty and still follow God, but Agur saw that the extremes offered far more opportunities to stumble—to forget about his daily bread and where it came from.
* * *
I’m ashamed of all the things in my life I take for granted—that I don’t recognize as blessings from God. I’m ashamed of how often I forget to ask God for the daily bread I know I need in my life—physical provisions, yes, but even more than that, the far more important spiritual provisions I need to survive as a follower of Christ.
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'” (Matthew 4:4).
Maybe you’re already better at this than I am. I hope so! But I know it’s something I want to get better at doing. I need my daily bread—physical and spiritual—and my power and the might of my hand aren’t strong enough to provide them for me. Only God can do that.
In taking the time each day to intentionally ask God for the things we know only He can provide (whether they’re already sitting in our fridge or not) we can learn to better appreciate the daily bread He provides us—today and every day.
Until next time,