Our daily bread

I don’t know what hunger is, not really. For me, hunger is a feeling I get about halfway between lunch and dinner—in other words, not real hunger. “I’m starving” is an exaggeration we use when we’ve gone maybe an hour longer than we want to without eating.

In Jesus’ world, food wasn’t as accessible as a walk to the vending machine or a short drive to the grocery store. They weren’t always sure what they were going to eat that day.

That’s why the Lord’s Prayer included this phrase (one we don’t often use): “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

The correct translation is probably, “Give us this day our bread for tomorrow,” but regardless, it says something we need to hear.

God is the one who gives. We tend to think that we earn what we get. I work hard, so I deserve this house, that money, this food. Not so, says Jesus. The food on our tables and the clothes on our backs come directly from God’s hand. When we forget that (and stop praying about it), we develop an entitlement attitude that produces ingratitude.

We don’t need to let thoughts of the future consume us. God, please provide enough food for us for the next twenty-four hours. I find myself praying about things way off in the future, but I think Jesus is urging us to be more present-focused in our prayers. What do you need today? How many of our problems are things that may or may not happen for weeks, months, or years? There’s nothing wrong with talking to God about something six months in the future, but we ought to focus on today. After all, God will be there tomorrow when you get there.

We should pray for the food we need, not the fortune we want. Have you heard of the prosperity gospel? It’s attracting millions of adherents by promising material blessings in the name of Jesus Christ. Have more faith, pray a little harder, and especially, give more money, and God will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Name it and claim it, we’re told. Problem is, the Bible doesn’t teach that, not by a long shot. God cares about your happiness, but he’s more interested in your holiness. And he’s not particularly concerned with providing all of us with late model sports cars and designer clothing. Pray for what you need, not what you want—sometimes in the affluent West, we have a hard time knowing the difference.

Has it been awhile since you asked God to provide you food for the day? If so, it’s probably because we’ve started assuming that it’s going to be there because it always has been.

If you’re like me, Jesus gives us a needed corrective.

Give us this day our daily bread.