What does it mean when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread?” Luther took ‘daily bread’ to mean all of life’s necessities, including food and clothing, work, and family members, good government and even shoes. As I write this (July 27, 2011) the U.S. Government is still entrenched in its inability to deal with the national debt
ceiling. I know I am not the only person frustrated by our elected officials who seem more interested in making their political opposition look bad and preserving their economic ideology than in finding a workable solution. State governments are also struggling. Other nations continue to falter. I am hopeful to think that by the time you read this, a solution may have been found. In the meantime we wait, and along with our nation and the world we grow anxious about the
future. So what to do?
Jesus offers us a prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Praying these words has some drastic implications. When we ask for ‘daily bread’ we first and foremost acknowledge our human needs – food, water, shelter, etc. Secondly, we also concede in this prayer that
everything we have is given from God. We have responsibilities. We have resources. We have opportunities and do what we can to make the most of them. Yet even these are God given, and in this prayer we acknowledge God’s generosity. Third, everything we have been entrusted with is an opportunity for better stewardship. Our human problems are rooted in fear and greed, not the abundance God provides. Often we approach matters from the perspective of what might lose rather than what we might contribute. We can always learn greater generosity, and we can continue to better utilize what we have been given more usefully. Jesus teaches us these things as we continue to pray for daily bread. Fourth,
God answers our prayer, even if we didn’t pray it! God sustains us and the entire world out of goodness and mercy through the natural processes that maintain and support life and the vast complexity of creation. This world in which we live is God’s continued gift to all of us. As we continue to address the problems of this world; confess our contribution to them, and work toward solutions; we bear in mind that all of it is the daily bread God
provides can offer a different perspective than our political gridlock. In John’s Revelation we see a vision of God’s promised future where we will gather around the Tree of Life.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore.” (Revelation 22:1-3)
Yet we live in the meantime. We see the needs around us and they are great. We see the problems around us and they are overwhelming. We know our own hunger and thirst and longings. Jesus teaches us to pray for daily bread. Jesus shows us the world around us and our neighbors in need. Jesus offers himself as the “bread of life” (John 6) that we
may be sustained not only by daily sustenance but his living presence among us as we gather together for word and sacrament. Christ will not leave us, nor leave us empty. He fills us with his very body, to be his body, that we would be his bread in a hungry world.
Peace, Pastor Geoff
What hunger do you see around you? What daily bread does God provide to address it?
Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’ (John 6:35)
Martin Luther’s Small Catechism:
Lord’s Prayer: 4th Petition
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
What does this mean? In fact, God gives daily bread without out prayer, even to all evil people, but we ask in this prayer that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving.
What does ‘daily bread’ mean? Everything included in the necessities and nourishment of 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, good friends, faithful neighbors and the like.