“… the prayer for daily bread is foundational. News of world food shortages, the prevalence of malnourishment, and volatile food prices remind us with repetition that cries for basic provision are appropriate and necessary. Fifteenth century theologian Martin Luther spoke of the prayer for daily bread as the plea for “everything included in the necessities and nourishment for our bodies such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” In other words, bread is not merely the private concern of those who need something to eat. It is far broader than this, including far more than bread, and far more than isolated individuals before God. Our daily bread is something friends, neighbors, communities, economic situations, and governments affect collectively. Christ’s prayer for daily bread, then, is a prayer for food and clothing, but also for good neighbors, good rulers, and good conscience as we face need and want together.
Our prayer for daily bread can as such be a reminder that we do not live in a vacuum before God. Rather, we live in communities where we are responsible for one another. So when we pray for daily bread, like Jesus, we pray for God’s care and provision. But subsequently, we are praying against the things in life that prevent God’s provisions. This may well be corrupt governments or systems of social injustice; it may also be our own hardened hearts, fearful spirits, or a self-consumed and consuming living. When our neighbor prays for daily bread, our neighbor prays for our help.
And if we pray the words Jesus told us to pray, we pray out of the same paradox in which Jesus prayed himself. He was both the Son who knew he would need the Father’s provision to get through the days before him and the Son who poured out his life for the crowds and individuals that needed him. Praying for daily bread, we are simultaneously the wealthy who can respond to the needs around us in gratitude for all that God has given us; and the impoverished who cry out for the daily bread we need and the God who sustains us. We are both the rich and the poor, united to our neighbors in ways we are constantly invited to imagine, lest we find ourselves in only one category. In difficult days, in plentiful days, might ours be a united cry to God: Give us this day our daily bread.” – RZIM
Wow. I have never seen ‘daily bread’ this way. I’ve always thought of ‘daily bread’ as a prayer for my provision, deliverance, strengthening, renewal, portion, contentment, simplicity. But never once for ‘things’ like: upright spouse, upright children, decency, honour, faithful neighbours… or seen it as a prayer against: hard-heartedness, fearfulness and self-absorption. So, in praying for God to grant me/us my/our daily bread, I am also asking Him to break down, take away whatever is in me/us that would prevent me/us from receiving that bread from Him! … Even more powerfully, when I pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, I am in fact praying that He will prepare and use me to be bread for someone else in need.
There are so many ways to slice bread after all.