Give Us Our Daily Bread
Carefully Consider What You Ask of God Each Day When You Pray
When Jesus’s disciples asked him to teach them how the pray, he gave them a prayer (Luke 11:1-4). Though many people recite this prayer exactly as the Bible records it (also see Matthew 6:9-13), a better approach is to use this prayer—often called the Lord’s prayer—as a model to inform our own communication with God.
One line is “give us our daily bread.” This is a curious phrase that many people stumble over. Two thousand years ago having enough to eat—even having something to eat—was a daily concern for most people. Hunger was something they knew too well, so they would easily resonate with Jesus’s prayer to ask God to provide them with food for the day.
Some people in our world today struggle with getting enough to eat. They’ll do well to ask God to “give us our daily bread.” Some euphemistically call this need for enough to eat as “food insecurity.” Sorry, it’s called hunger. It leads to starvation and death. Don’t minimize the lack of this basic need of life by giving it a nice sounding label.
Yet much of the world gives little thought to where their next meal will come from. Most have plenty of food stockpiled in their homes, with nearby stores selling more.
For these people—myself included—does it make sense to ask God for something he’s already provided? I think not. In fact, I suspect that thoughtlessly asking him for what he’s already given stands as an insult to his generosity.
Instead, we should consider how to adapt the phrase “give us our daily bread” to our situation today. One thought, which I followed for many years, is to ask God to “provide us with what we need for today.” For me this became a generic request to give me the basics things I needed for the day. Instead of asking for my daily bread, I asked for the essentials for my daily life.
This focus became me asking God each morning to supply just what I needed for the day. Oh, how this limited him. It’s as if I were asking for just enough to live another day, when he was standing by, ready to do all that and much more. All I needed to do was ask.
What if we begin each day by asking God to provide for us from the bounty of his limitless resources?
We could make a generic request for him to provide for us in his sovereign wisdom. Or better yet we could ask for specifics, requesting God’s supernatural intervention in particular situations or to meet certain needs. These items could relate to health, finances, work, relationships, safety, favor, or any number of other things.
For some people asking God for their daily bread is a wise, necessary, and proper request. But for the rest of us, it’s time to stop saying this out of rote repetition and start making specific requests to God each day.
Consider how to apply the phrase “give us our daily bread” to your prayers each morning. Then do it.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.