Summary: God’s provision, our contentment, and our need to share with others physical & spiritual bread
"Our Daily Bread"
Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
Did you know you can now send an email to God? An Israeli internet company (www.virtual.co.il) has announced that they will take email prayers to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Customarily people write prayers and place them in cracks of the wall. I did so when I visited Israel some years ago. But we don’t need to email God-His lines of communication are always open to us-with or without an internet connection!
When we pray "Give us this day our daily bread" we’re showing that we’re depending on God a day at a time. Jesus urges us, "Don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing….Do not worry about tomorrow" (Mt 6:31, 34). Within our request is the faith-knowledge that God will provide. With confidence we make our needs known to God.
The first half of the Lord’s Prayer is directed to God-His paternity, His person, His program, His purpose. Now we move to our need for provision, pardon, protection, and preservation. The order is intentional-we honor God before raising personal needs. Jesus expresses this order when He says, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you" (Mt 6:33). We begin in prayer praising God, then we make our requests known-admitting we have needs which only God can fill.
Have you ever not known where your next meal was coming from? We usually have more than enough food for ourselves, so this request may seem remote. We can have any kind of food we wish. In our abundance we forget that God is the Source of our provision-that without God we would not prosper at all. He brings the sun and the rain, He causes the crops to grow; He gives us intelligence and ability to earn bread. When I pastored two African-American congregations I learned appreciation for the small miracles of life. I regularly heard prayers thanking God for getting us up in the morning, and getting us on our way. When was the last time we were thankful for such simple gifts? We shouldn’t take the ordinary blessings of life for granted.
One time I was participating in an Army field exercise and a soldier posed a question about our field rations (those "Meals-Ready-to-Eat"): "Chaplain, should MRE’s get ’grace’ or ’last rites’?" It’s important that we’re thankful for whatever God provides-even things we may not like. Do we offer thanks regularly for our food, even when we’re in public? I’m reminded of Norman Rockwell’s famous painting of a Mother and son praying over their meal at a table shared with two young men. When we thank God before a meal we’re acknowledging that He has provided for our needs. We’re not indifferent. Scripture says that our food is "sanctified", set apart when it is received with thanksgiving (I Tim 4:4-5).
The Apostle Paul tells us, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Cor. 10:31). How can eating food be to God’s glory? When we remember the Source of our food and the capacity we have to enjoy it.
God loves to give us the everyday things we need. Sometimes we don’t want to "bother" God and so we tend to go to Him only for the extraordinary, urgent needs of life. Isaac Bashevis Singer once said, "I only pray when I am in trouble. But I am in trouble all the time, and so I pray all the time." We don’t realize the trouble we’re in!
Two women co-owned and operated a seaside inn. They were getting ready for the busy summer season and were faced with a dilemma-not enough help in the kitchen. They desperately needed a pastry chef and a dishwasher. One of the two women prayed asking God for help. She said, "Lord, I haven’t the least idea where to find help; this hotel is Your business as well as mine. Please lead me to a dishwasher and a pastry chef." She then went to her car. Her partner asked what was up, and she said, "I don’t know, but somehow God will show me." She headed downtown and spotted two men at a bus stop. On an impulse, she stopped at the curb. She explained, "I run a hotel on the beach and need some extra help. You men wouldn’t be needing jobs, would you?" Big grins appeared on the men’s faces. "Yes, ma’am, we do. We’ve been looking for work but haven’t found any. We were about to try elsewhere." "What can you do?", the woman asked. "Sam here, he’s a first-rate pastry cook, and I’m a dishwasher." "Climb in", the woman said. The two men stayed the entire season and proved to be the best help the inn had that year. For that little seaside inn, a pastry cook and a dishwasher were the "daily bread" needed (source: Catherine Marshall).