The counter-cultural, revolutionary teachings of the Lord’s Prayer continue this week, with the phrase: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Amidst a culture obsessed with finding security in the accumulation of wealth and social status, Jesus is inviting us to live with a posture of radical trust. God knows what we need and will provide.
Asking for daily bread is inseparably tied to the previous phrase in the Lord’s Prayer asking for God’s Kingdom to come, and linked with Matthew 6:33: “But strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you as well.”
Basically, Jesus is saying: “Use your energy to focus on living into the reality of God’s Kingdom come and coming. Don’t worry about the rest. You can trust God to take care of what you need.”
Easier said than done.
I really think this petition for daily bread is part of the larger pattern of teachings in Matthew 6, so here is my Reader’s Digest version of the chapter:
Don’t focus on the externals. You want to appear holy and impress people. You focus on the opinions of others, when it is God’s approval you should worry about.
Don’t focus on accumulating wealth. If you love money then it has your heart and you serve it, not God. Money isn’t your security, God is.
Your heavenly father knows what you need before you ask it. Seek God’s Kingdom first, and what you need will be provided. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Trust in God.
This entire section, including the Lord’s prayer, is intended to teach Jesus’ followers to trust in God and seek God’s Kingdom. Running around worrying about food, drink and clothing only distracts from seeking and doing God’s will in each day. Social power and accumulation of wealth will not bring security. God is enough.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25-33)
God’s revolution requires radical trust in the provision of God. It calls us away from pursuit of public acclaim, or the desire to appear righteousness. It demands that we are satisfied with “enough.” It requires our complete allegiance.
For me, this may be among the more challenging teachings of the Lord’s Prayer. I struggle with trust and worry daily. I am easily distracted.
Right now I am feeling grateful that Jesus saw fit to include this petition for daily bread. Before I sort of skipped past it. Now, each time I hear it, I will be reminded anew to set aside worry and trust God with all of my life.