As human beings, we need physical food to survive. But the most important “bread of life” comes to us from Jesus Christ through God’s Word and Holy Spirit, which replenish us.
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).
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)! We are to live each day with Christ dwelling in us (John:17:23). This was the source of Paul’s strength as he wrote in 1 Corinthians:3:16 and Philippians 4:13.
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). 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, 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). 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, 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 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). 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). 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.