The Great Sayings in the Gospels
How Shall We Pray?: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. KJV
We come today to discuss what may well be one of the least understood requests in this prayer. Most people, I believe, view v. 11 much as I did for most of my life. They view it as a petition to God for the food that is needed for the current day. Even though most of us have the food for our day already purchased and in the pantry or the refrigerator, we know in theory that it would not be there except for God’s hand of provision to us and, so, we make the polite request to be enabled to partake of that which is already there.
While it is absolutely true that none of us would have anything except God provide it, I believe that this is a wrong understanding of these words. It is absolutely true that every dollar we earn is done through God keeping us healthy and allowing us to have a job that provides our needs. He does, in a very real sense, provide our ‘daily bread,’ when understood as the food that we consume day by day. However, I do believe that these words are pointing to something far more important and far more needed than our daily diet.
Consider the matter of God’s provisions for ancient Israel.
When God led Israel out of Egypt by Moses, He led them to one situation after another in which they could only survive if He helped them.
There was a way out of Egypt along the coast that was well known, a highway, if you will, used by traders and even armies to get in and out of Egypt. South from the coast, the Red Sea formed the eastern border of Egypt and, of course, could only be crossed by boat, or so everyone thought.
Rather than lead them by the easy and well-traveled path, God directed them southward until they were at the edge of the sea. If you will recall, He led them directly by a pillar of smoke in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night.
But Pharaoh, who at first had given them permission to go, changed his mind and pursued them with his army to recapture Israel and bring them all back to Egypt. So Moses and Israel found themselves between the sea on the one hand and the army of Egypt on the other. There was no way to escape, no way to be spared a great massacre, no way to freedom from slavery….that is unless God intervened.
But the children of Israel did not cry out to God. Instead, they berated Moses.
11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. KJV
Only Moses had the confidence to not be afraid. He uttered those now famous words.
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. KJV
And, indeed, the Lord die intervene in a mighty way, opening the Red Sea, drying the ground in the bottom for Israel to pass, and then collapsing it upon the Egyptian army, drowning them all in the sea.
The Bitter Water at Marah.
Only three days (Ex. 15:22) later, as they made their way into the wilderness on the eastern side of the Red Sea, they ran out of water and began to complain against Moses again. They had found water, but they could not drink it. There was either a well or an oasis there but the water in it was so bitter and salty that it could not be used.
Here, again, is a crisis. Without water, the people will die a slow death and unless God intervenes this will be exactly what happens. They are at least three days journey any water they know of and that is back in the way they have come.
Moses took the matter to the Lord and the Lord revealed to him a remedy for the bitter water. There was a tree in the vicinity which Moses cut down and put into the water, which made it drinkable and the people were spared.
The next crisis was the need for food.
After Marah, they had found a nice place to camp with twelve wells and sixty palm trees where they stayed for about a month.
Shortly after leaving this place, the food began to run short and the people against complained to Moses.
2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. KJV
God’s answer was a remarkable miracle to provide for them and, I believe, the basis of the request which we find in this Model Prayer we have been discussing.
4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. KJV
‘Daily bread’ was given to them in the form of an unknown material that they named ‘What Is It?’ Manna. The ground would be covered with something that looked like white seeds which were to be gathered and then prepared into bread. But it was provided only one day at a time. It could not be kept day to day except on Friday so that they did not need to gather it on the Sabbath.
Not only that, but it could only be gathered early in the morning. When the dew evaporated the Manna disappeared. Those who did not gather early went hungry for that day. This established a pattern of looking to God for ‘daily bread,’ to which Jesus is alluding.
Now, here is the reality, you and I live in a spiritual wilderness and can only be sustained in our commitments to God through a daily provision of fresh grace.
I have no doubt but that as the Israelites traveled along the road they constantly saw the skeletons of animals, and maybe even people, who had been overcome by the heat, hunger, and thirst of the wilderness. Their own thirst and hunger reminded them constantly that they had needs that they could not meet in this place.
In the same manner, you and I are constantly exposed to the burned out wreckage of lives which once began, so far as anyone could tell, in faith. But, today, the faith is gone and the life is a spiritual wreck. Spiritual ‘skeletons’ if you will, dot the landscape.
The enemies of our spiritual welfare are everywhere. We are told that the Devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking Christians to devour, to ruin their lives, to overwhelm them with temptations and seduce them away from joy and victory in Christ.
Our culture is actively involved in drawing people into a licentious, immoral, and godless lifestyle. Governments are waging open war on Christianity (but no other religion). Movies, books, video’s, TV, the internet, are all full of moral and spiritual corruption. Even church institutions have endorsed immoral and ungodly people as their leaders and pastors. Consider this question. If you were to leave here this morning looking for real spiritual help, where would you, where could you, go? I am not saying that you could find none, but the search would not be an easy nor a quick one. You would wade through much useless and even harmful material before finding anything of real spiritual value.
Then, you have an enemy that lives inside your very body, a nature that inclines toward wickedness and away from God.
15 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
16 But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good.
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. NAS
In this spiritual wilderness and with these enemies arrayed against you, there is one very plain and powerful reality. Unless God does something on your behalf, you will not survive. You will, without doubt, even if your faith is genuine, end up like the person that Peter described.
2 Peter 1:5‑9
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. KJV
Jesus, in this prayer, is teaching us that the provision of God that we need must be sought and it must be sought daily.
Both scripture and experience seem to teach us that God provides spiritual ‘bread’ on a daily basis. The experience of Israel in the wilderness as well as the guidance of the Model Prayer point us in that direction. You may have also noticed a disturbing reality in your own life. I would venture a guess that there have been times, maybe in personal worship or in church, in which you have been spiritually blessed. You rode a wave of blessing for the rest of the day but when you woke the next morning that sense of blessedness was gone and you were ‘back to normal.’ It may have also happened that in such a time you neglected to draw close to the Lord and then experienced spiritual failure before the day was out.
Looking back, you may have wondered how you could have seemed to be so well off one day and in so much trouble before the next day ended. I believe it is for exactly the reason we have been discussing, the spiritual provisions of God are day by day and often do not carry over one day to the next.
Why would God do us that way? What is the profit in it? Doesn’t it just make us spiritually discouraged? How does it help?
I would suggest to you that the scriptures are clear that He does not intend for His people to be ‘pew-sitters,’ people who show up for church on Sunday but then go their own ways for the rest of the week. I think the scriptures are clear that He intends things far different than this for His people.
I see clear indications that He would have all of those who are truly His to be:
Filled with the Spirit,
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; KJV
Walking in the Spirit,
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. KJV
Crucifying the flesh,
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. KJV
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. KJV
A living sacrifice to God,
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. KJV
Obedient to Him in all things,
1 John 2:3
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. KJV
A light to those in darkness,
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. KJV
One very obvious question is this, “How can a person be all of this without a daily infusion of the provisions of God into his/her life?” And the answer, of course, is that one cannot.
So, how and by what means does one seek and find this ‘daily bread.’
The answer is not as mysterious as it might seem. If we understand the process rightly the ‘manna’ is scattered out for us by God, we must simply gather it in. And, we use the means at our disposal.
First of all, we have the scriptures and should read them daily looking for spiritual nourishment, encouragement, conviction, motivation, and understanding. The scriptures have a unique way of laying hold of the soul of the genuine believer and moving him/her closer to God while addressing spiritual needs.
Secondly, we have prayer, which must be approached in a serious manner. I hope that you are seeing that in this series of messages. Each of the issues we are discussing here should be addressed before God in some measure of detail. This kind of prayer cannot and must not be hurried. Worship, repentance, and petitions for help must all be addressed in a sober and diligent way. I would also recommend to you attendance and participation in the prayer meetings of the church.
Thirdly, we have the church, not just the church meetings but our brothers and sisters in Christ who can encourage us as we interact with them. Of course, this requires that the actually interact, have contact, and speak with them about eternal things.
Fourthly, there are many good books, written by men and women who walked with God and can help to guide our hearts and minds into truth. I recommend that you focus mostly on those from bygone years. I have little confidence that many of the modern writers are much more than religious professionals, not genuine minister of the gospel.
These are the resources available to help you gather your daily bread. Used diligently and faithfully, they will go a long way to making sure that you have the daily supply of spiritual nourishment that your Heavenly Father intends for you to have and that the Living Bread, that Bread come down from heaven, urges you to seek.
God has brought you to a place where you cannot survive without His daily provision, but He has made provision for you. Will you seek it daily, urgently, earnestly, perseveringly?