Summary: A sermon focusing us on Give Us Day This Our Daily Bread
Give Us Day This Our Daily Bread
There is a story about the President of Anheiser-Busch who went over to the Vatican for a private audience with the Pope. The meeting went something like this: “Holy Father, we are prepared to make a donation of $10 million to the church if you would simply replace ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ with ’Give us this day our daily beer.’” “I’m afraid, that’s not possible, my son.” “Could you do it for a bigger contribution, say $25 million dollars?” “I’m afraid that’s not possible, my son.” “Holy Father, here is my final offer. Change “bread” to “beer:” and I will write you a check right now for $100 million dollars.” The Pope picks up the phone and says: “Cardinal Mancini, how firm is our contract with Pillsbury?”
During this sermon series, we’re trying to take a step back and look at the lessons in the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus was trying to teach us. Today we are focusing on the phrase, “Give us This Day Our Daily Bread.” There are six petitions or things we ask of God in the Lord’s Prayer. The first three have to do with our relationship to God. But a shift occurs when we move from ‘Thy’ to ‘Us’ Only with those attitudinal postures in place of approaching God personally as daddy, acknowledging and revering his holiness and affirming that it is about His kingdom and not ours, are our souls in the right posture to now corporately ask for our daily bread.
In Bible times, bread was absolutely essential for every Middle Eastern meal. This is indicated by the fact that there are over 300 references to bread throughout the Scriptures. People did not have forks and spoons to eat with so they used a piece of bread torn from a loaf for dipping into the various common food bowls set before them. Bread was the vehicle that brought food from the table to your mouth to sustain your life. Without modern preservatives, fresh loaves had to be baked every day. When Jesus tells us to pray for our daily bread, he’s not just talking about bread alone, he’s talking about food for survival.
By incorporating daily bread into His distinctive Disciples’ Prayer, first, Jesus was drawing an intentional reference back to the wilderness of Zin, the site of daily manna, something the Disciples well understood. The Wilderness of Zin is where the Israelites spent the vast majority of their 40-year desert experience. Seeing this place, you are immediately struck by how barren this region is. The Bible refers to this place as “that great and terrible wilderness” Deut 1:19, 8:15 These early Hebrews complainingly describe this environment to Moses as “no place for seed, or for figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” Numbers 20:5b This is why daily manna was absolutely essential for the survival of the Israelites. In this arid setting, there is no source of food. Without God’s daily provision of manna, the Israelites would have quickly perished. That is the corporate historical context that Jesus intends us to evoke in our hearts and minds when we ask for our daily bread.
Second, we are to pray for the faith community and its needs. This is a prayer which encourages the community to pray for the community. In the Middle East, the community is always more important than the individual. Consequently, a person would always sacrifice personal rights and needs for the benefit of the community. Not so in the West! Here the individual always considers himself or herself to be more important than the rest of the community. As a result, community harmony is usually sacrificed for the sake of personal interests.
Third, in this Wilderness of Zin setting, daily manna symbolizes a conscious, continual posture of always acknowledging being totally dependent on the Lord for everything. In giving us that daily bread reminder, it’s as if Jesus intends us to be praying, “Lord, please provide our community of faith with the necessities we require this day, and Lord may we live today acknowledging our need to be totally sustained by You because we are indeed truly dependent upon You for everything.” And it is that contextual backdrop which frames the question “Are we even asking for our daily bread in the spirit in which Jesus intended?” Jesus says, “give us this day”, which signifies from morning until dusk. We are not to pray for a week’s supply but just enough for today. The challenge of course is that we don’t want just enough for today. We would rather have the security and comfort of having a stockpile of food. God seems to be saying it’s not always helpful for you to have more than you need. Because the danger is when we are comfortable and have more than we need, we feel like we don’t need God any more. We know that the more money people have, the less involved they are in their faith and the more difficult it is to reach them with the Gospel. When God provided manna from heaven each day, his instructions were for the Israelites to only pick up enough manna to last them for the day. And when they couldn’t do that because they wanted to pick up more for the next day in case God didn’t meet their need, they opened up the jar the next day and it was spoiled and destroyed by worms. God says you only need enough today so that you will depend on me for tomorrow too. Proverbs 30: 8b-9 says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need or I shall be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or I shall be poor and steal and profane the name of God.” This is a prayer of dependence and contentment. Help me be dependent to you O Lord for what I have today and to be content to think that just enough is enough and not demand more. Help me to always depend on you to provide for my needs.