“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

Matthew 6:9-13

Of the six petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, the fourth petition is the one that you may be tempted to think least about: “Give us this day our daily bread…”.  Compared to the rest of the world, most Americans do not worry about where their next meal is coming from.  In fact, the top five things Americans worry about are financial instability/crisis, political instability, future pandemics, global warming, and war.[1]  However, few Americans worry about where their next meal will come from.  Aside from the more than 500,000 homeless in our country, our biggest problem is not the lack of food, but the overabundance of it.  In fact, 41.9% of Americans suffer from obesity.

In fact, a survey was conducted that showed 30% of Americans eat out several times a week.  If that is true, then according to another study I read this week, individuals who dine out two times or more a week have a 18% greater chance for a cardiovascular death and 67% of those who eat out more than once a week have a greater risk for cancer-related deaths.[2]  Not to mention that the number one killer in America is not starvation but heart disease. 

My guess is that most, if not all of you, do not currently worry about where your next meal will come from.  The point of this petition in Jesus’ prayer is not so much about where your next meal will come from, but the recognition that neither your next meal nor your next breath is guaranteed to you.  It is a petition that recognizes that God is sufficient while we forever remain deficient.  Job understood this, for in the midst of his suffering, he recognized that God, “…gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields…” (Job 5:8-10).  David appreciated the fact that every day is another gift we humans are not entitled to have:

O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!  Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you.  Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!  Surely a man goes about as a shadow!  Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!  And now, O LORD, for what do I wait?  My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:4-7)

The reason why I believe that the fourth petition in our Lord’s prayer is more about our need for God and less about our need for food is because of one word.  The Greek word, epiousios, which is only used once in all the New Testament.  Greek scholars believe this word can be translated “daily” bread or “tomorrow’s” bread.  I believe a more accurate translation of this petition is, “Give us our bread for tomorrow.”  I think we do not need to exert a whole lot of mental energy to see that Jesus is not just talking about bread here, but what we need to live.  Furthermore, I do not think Jesus has in mind “what” we need to live, but “who” we need to live. 

Why Are We Alive Today?

You are alive today because God exists.  Because he is Elohim, he owns it all because he created it all.  Because he is Adonai, all that you own and will own is actually gifted to you just as we are assured from the Bible: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). 

However, few people really appreciate the true reason why they got up this morning.  The average person lives about 78 years which is a total of 28,470 days, and because that is the average, you assume that you will get up tomorrow morning.  The reality is that if you are blessed to live 78 years on earth, it will be gone before you know it. Of our 28,470 days, we sleep on average 8,541 years away leaving us with only 19,929 days on earth awake.  So, how does the average person use his/her average number of days on earth? 

  •  3,750 days of your life are spent working.
  • 360 days of your life will be consumed by the amount of time it takes the average person to get to and from work.
  •  1,460 days are consumed with housework.
  •  856 days if you are a man & 770.8 days if you are woman… will be consumed in the bathroom.
  •  265 days will be consumed on your mobile phone .
  •  55 days of your life will be consumed with getting dressed.
  •  208 days of your life will be consumed with looking for lost property .
  •  5,400 days of your life will be consumed by watching TV.
  •  20.5 days are consumed with the amount of time the average American plays video games. – This number is much larger is some studies.

So, of the 19,929 days you will spend awake, about 12,373 of those days will be spent working, commuting to work, cleaning your home, using the bathroom, being on your phone, getting dressed, looking for things you lost, watching TV, and possibly playing some video games.  That will leave you only 7,556 days to do other things not on that list.  All of this while 697,000 Americans will die due to some cardiovascular event that will interrupt what is left of their 28,470 days on earth.  This is one of the reasons James wrote in his epistle: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13–15).

When we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread…”, we are acknowledging that we not only exist for a purpose, but God is sustaining us this day to the next by his grace for something much, much more worthy of your time then your cell phone, the nice cloths that you wear, the company that employs you, the time you binge your favorite series or show, or the video games that you play.  You, my dear friend, were born with purpose; not only as one who bears the image of the living God, but a human being whose existence is owing to the One who gives and sustains your life! 

If you are a Christian, your Heavenly Father is Elohim of whom the apostle Paul attributed the very blueprint of your salvation before you were ever an embryo in your mother’s womb: “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He favored us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4–6, NASB 2020). 

If you are a Christian, your Heavenly Father is Yahweh of whom Jesus promised will never let you go: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27–29).

If you are a Christian, your Heavenly Father is Adonai of whom the apostle John celebrated when he wrote: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (John 3:1).

As children of the living God, we are citizens of his kingdom and it is his will to first expand his kingdom in our hearts and lives before the day we enter into his kingdom after King Jesus sets it up, on earth as it is in heaven.  What is his will for your life?  What is he doing within you to prepare you for his kingdom?  Listen to the following glorious words from Paul’s letter to Titus:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4–7)

So, when we pray that our Father in heaven provide “our bread for tomorrow” for the hallowing of his name… we can be assured that all that comes tomorrow is for our good and his glory regardless if it is bread, a home, heat, clothing, or even death.  What I mean is that when we pray, however God answers our prayer on his terms and in his way, we can know that he is doing so because he is for his children – just as we are assured in Romans 8:31-32, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:31–32)?

What Bread Do We Really Need?

I would be remiss if I did not point out a different kind of bread that is much more important than the kind we put into our stomachs.  Thomas Watson was a puritan who lived in the 1600’s; he reflected on how God gives life and bread to all men and the arrogance of man to disregard that his life is owing only to the reality of a God of mercy.  Here is what Watson wrote:

If all be a gift, see the odious ingratitude of men who sin against their giver!  God feeds them, and they fight against him; he gives them bread, and they give him affronts.  How unworthy is this!  Should we not cry shame on him who had a friend always feeding him with money, and yet he should betray and injure him?  Thus ungratefully do sinners deal with God; they not only forget his mercies, but abuse them…. Oh, how horrid is it to sin against a bountiful God!—to strike the hands that relieve us![3]

You may remember the story in the Gospel of John when Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men plus women and children with only five loaves of bread and two fish.  Because of the miracle, the people wanted more from Jesus. If Jesus were indeed the Messiah, they wanted Him to do something to top what they thought Moses did in the desert when their fathers ate manna that came from Heaven. After Jesus reminded them that it was not Moses who did this miracle, but God, He said: “It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (vv. 32-33). When they asked Jesus to give them this bread, He said: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (v. 35).

It is ironic that this sermon happens to fall on the first Sunday of December when we not only will celebrate communion by taking bread together, but we sang our first Christmas song this Advent season.  Jesus said to the people,

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38–40)

On the first Christmas, the bread of life was born to a virgin and placed in a manger.  The one of whom Isaiah prophesied long before Jesus’ birth: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  He is the bread that satisfied and gives eternal life and lights up the darkness of our sin cursed hearts (John 1:1-5). 

I read a story about a woman who purchased one of those boxes of Christmas cards without paying much attention to what each card actually said.  In a rush to get cards to her family and friends, she quickly signed each card, put them in their individual envelopes, and mailed out almost all of the cards that were in the box of fifty.  Sometime after each of her cards arrived at each of the nearly fifty addresses, she read one of the cards she had left; to her embarrassment, each of the cards had the following greeting:

This card is just to say

A little gift is on the way.

Needless to say, every recipient of each of the cards she signed never received their promised “little gift.”  Jesus is God’s gift that will never disappoint, for he is “the bread of life.”  When we pray for our daily bread for tomorrow, we can know that our heavenly Father will not only give us what we need for today, but he has already provided what we ultimately need for tomorrow!  The gift that Elohim, Yahweh, and Adonai has given is no small gift, for it is Jesus who speaks to you dear Christian: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31–39)

Amen.


[1] Amy Morin and Claire Gillespie, “What Americans Are Worrying About Right Now, From the Silent Generation to Gen Z”; Verywellmind.com; Oct. 8, 2021.

[2] For more on this study, see the websites: https://www.acsh.org/news/2021/03/29/eating-out-killing-you-15439 and www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.

[3] Thomas Watson quoted from John MacArthur, Alone With God (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; 2006), p.114.