When I was a boy in school, each day began with our reciting the Lord’s Prayer (that was a long time ago). It would be quite a few years later when I would understand this prayer is really an outline of prayer to be used as a guide. I learned prayers are not to be repetitive and, thus, when I really began to pray in earnest, I would write the Lord’s Prayer down and talk with God about each phrase or part of this prayer (Matthew 6:7-13 Matthew 6:7-13 7 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not you therefore like to them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×).
It struck me some time ago, the words “Give us this day our daily bread” were the only words referring to our physical needs in this prayer outline. All the rest of the prayer is in praise of God or to request spiritual gifts so we may better please and serve Him. Why do we ask for our physical needs in a prayer that is nonphysical in all other aspects?
Bread of life
One of my great joys in life is found at the pivotal point a profound truth strikes home. If I am among people at such a moment, I will restrain my excitement, but more than once something has struck me while driving alone and then I have to let loose with a whoop and a holler!
The profound spiritual truth of the Lord’s Prayer was such a moment. I finally realized Jesus Christ is the “bread of life” and the daily bread we need even more than physical food (John 6:51 John 6:51I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
American King James Version×)! We are to live each day with Christ dwelling in us (John 17:23 John 17:23I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
American King James Version×). This was the source of Paul’s strength as he wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:16Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
American King James Version×and Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×.
It was a joy to realize the deeper meaning of the phrase “Give us this day.” Of course, Jesus Christ did ask a blessing as He was breaking bread for a meal (Luke 9:16 Luke 9:16Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and broke, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.
American King James Version×). It is correct to ask for our daily provisions and to ask God to bless them. My joy came in recognizing the deeper importance of Jesus Christ being the daily bread we truly need.
At that point the Lord’s Prayer became cohesive and complete in my understanding. It is indeed a spiritual prayer raising us out of the dimension of physical life and into a thought pattern above and beyond the struggles of this present world. It elevates our thinking into the purpose and plan of God to establish His Kingdom and dwell with mankind for eternity.
In Luke 4:3-4 Luke 4:3-4 3 And the devil said to him, If you be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
American King James Version×, we can read about the confrontation Jesus had with Satan. Satan told Jesus to change the stone into bread, but Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” He was referring, of course, to needing spiritual sustenance more than physical bread. God’s truth, God’s Word, is spiritual (John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
American King James Version×). It provides the “food” we need to be spiritually sound.
One of my greatest joys in life is found at the pivotal point a profound truth strikes home.
Jesus taught many things using the example of bread and, typically, His focus was on the spiritual need rather than on the physical one. It amazes me today how long it took me to realize this. In Luke 12:23 Luke 12:23The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
American King James Version×, Jesus once again used the example of eating to show the primary need we have is spiritual. He said, “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.”
Some would make the mistake of discounting food altogether. That is the far side of the ditch; we are physical, and God knows we need physical sustenance. It is in the comparison of the eternal with the temporary that we must realize how much more important the presence of Jesus Christ is in our lives than even our physical food. God expects us to work hard to procure our daily food—there are lessons in that. He expects us to work much harder to procure our spiritual food, and we need to see the value in that. A half-hearted attempt will fail.
Where do we seek our daily bread?
What are the steps needed so that a person can have this wonderful daily bread? This was the question asked by people when the disciples first preached. Acts 2:37-38 Acts 2:37-38 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×records the event. When the people asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” the answer given was, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
My joy came in recognizing the deeper importance of Jesus Christ being the daily bread we truly need.
There is a process God has set in motion for those whom He calls. Repentance indicates an understanding of sin and how offensive it is to our Lord and Creator. Repentance is a cry for help as humans realize how incapable they are to cancel sin by themselves. God then begins the process of leading that person to His Church, where His specially ordained and appointed ministers will give counsel, immerse the person in water and, as he or she arises, lay hands on him or her, asking for God to include the person’s name in the Book of Life. The minister will also ask that the person be given God’s Holy Spirit and from that moment, the baptized person will be given God’s Spirit. God the Father and Jesus Christ will dwell within.
The need for daily bread shows God’s Spirit runs through us like a river (John 7:38 John 7:38He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
American King James Version×). This supply of God’s Spirit needs to be renewed and refreshed every day. Thus, our daily prayer shows this request for a spiritual gift from God. Thankfulness for physical bread as well as the spiritual bread from Jesus goes hand in hand in our daily lives, but the most important bread is Jesus Christ. May our merciful and loving God grant each of us every day “our daily bread.”
Now with that greater meaning, the phrase “Give us…” fits more securely within the rest of the model prayer. Each Passover season, converted people take of the bread that symbolizes the broken body of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24 1 Corinthians 11:24And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×). A daily reminder of the precious sacrifice that frees us from sin and heals the breach between us and God is given in the prayer Jesus Christ spoke so long ago. Let us always stir up the gift God has given us—the gift of life—the bread of life—His Son.