Summary: Part of a series on the Lord’s Prayer. "Give us today, our daily bread."
We have been studying the Lord’s Prayer and you may have noticed this prayer is like an archaeological dig. On the surface, it seems simple. Dig a little bit, and you find some new things. Dig deeper, and you discover even more
The phrase we look at this morning is "Give us this day our daily bread." Two simple words -- daily bread -- are actually not that simple. They are like that archaeological dig. The more you look at those simple words, the more there is to discover.
Let’s take a look at the word DAILY.
DAILY is such a common word in our vocabulary. But the interesting thing is that when Matthew wrote the Lord’s Prayer in his Gospel, the word that was used for DAILY was far from a common word. In all Greek literature, the word that is translated as DAILY appears nowhere else except here in the Lord’s Prayer. We’re talking about 1000s of books, millions of scraps of paper that have survived in museums and archives, and not one of them uses this word that Matthew uses for daily.
Oh wait -- there is one. It is a scrap of paper that was apparently a shopping list -- a grocery list. On that piece of paper is the word DAILY.
Even though the word is so rare, it is easy to translate because it is a combination of two common words. We do the same thing today, for example a pistol is often referred to as a hand-gun. Two words used together to refer to a weapon. Or a trolley is often called a street-car. You get the point.
Matthew and Luke both record the Lord’s Prayer with a word for “daily” that combines two common words and it has left scholars struggling with what Jesus meant with this prayer.
The combination of words that we translate as DAILY can be understood as "give us today what we need for tomorrow." That sounds wonderful, but it is out of touch with the rest of the Gospel teachings. After all, it was Jesus who said immediately after teaching his disciples to pray the Lord’s Prayer, "Do not be anxious about tomorrow, what you will wear or what you will eat. Today has enough concerns." (Matthew 6:25)
Other scholars have said that this unusual word for DAILY means "the day’s necessary things."
Anyone who has ever taken a look at the food labels on cartons has seen the explanation of the vitamins and minerals and calories. One phrase on that label is "daily minimum requirement." Food makers sell cereal based on how it has 100% of the daily minimum requirement.
So with this meaning, the prayer asks only for what we need -- not for what we want, but what we need.
Actually, I believe the answer is both.
In the Lord’s Prayer we are praying that God will give us today what we will need for tomorrow, so that we will not have to be anxious for things.
And it also means that we are asking only for what we need. Not what we want.
As a pastor strangers are often coming into my office asking for help. They want money, gas for the car, whatever. Sometimes, people ask for things they don’t need. The most extreme case was several years ago someone came to the church asking for money -- here was a person who had been out of work for sometime. He asked the church for $1,000. That far exceeded anything we had ever given anyone. Why did he need it? He wanted to buy a new television.
Churches often help those in need, but only to provide what the Lord’s Prayer says -- the daily and minimum requirements. The church is not obligated to provide for the luxuries of life. But we are called to help people with the necessities of life -- food, clothing, and shelter. Not televisions.
When we pray to God using the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking that we receive only the things we absolutely need, and that we receive them in such a time that we do not become anxious about tomorrow.
The other word I want us to look at is BREAD. That is a simple word in either Greek or English. But as simple as it is, it is like that archaeological dig. The deeper you dig the more you find.
When I was a teenager, BREAD meant money. I’d go up to my father and say, "Hey man, give me some daily bread," and that meant I wanted my allowance.
Bread does, in fact, mean a lot of different things. In the Lord’s Prayer it can mean four things.
First, it can refer to the bread of the Lord’s Supper. The bread on the Lord’s Table is no ordinary bread. Different churches use different types of bread. Some use small wafers of bread that are paper-thin discs of pressed bread that often have Christian symbols pressed into the design. Others use bread baked in shapes that look more like an after dinner mint than bread. One church I went to actually used a saltine cracker. In many churches you will find a wonderful loaf of homemade bread.