“Give us today our bread, which we need to survive.”
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
(Matthew 6:11, KJV)
There is some debate over whether Jesus is speaking of our physical needs or our spiritual needs—the bread that sustains physical life or the bread of life—God’s Word. I would suggest that Jesus is talking about the food we need to sustain us during the day. Note that this is the first request of the seven that deals with our needs for the day, and two of the following requests will deal with our spiritual needs and the other deals with our mental needs. Thus, it is sensible to see this as a petition for our physical needs during the day.
As you study the gospels, you will not be able to help but notice the concern that Jesus has with all areas of our need—spiritual, mental, and physical. It makes sense that the prayer that he would teach us would reflect all these things. Jesus regularly speaks of God’s physical provision for his people as well. Thus, we begin the four petitions that are directed toward our own lives with a petition that God supply our physical needs.
Note a few things, though. First, just like the Israelites who were in the desert, being fed with manna only were given a day’s provision at a time, so too, when we ask, we ask for God’s provision on a daily basis. We who walk in the church-age are much like the Israelites in the wilderness. We are pilgrims in a land not our own, we are heading toward a promised land (this time one that has been kept free from corruption by Christ), and we still need God’s daily provision, lest we die. Admittedly, there are times when God allows us to save up, but do not take those times for granted for savings can disappear overnight. God won’t.
Secondly, note that this is not a prayer for our “daily steak dinner with a lobster tail on the side.” This is a prayer for our daily bread. We are to ask God to provide that which we need. How there is a difference between those things which we need and those things which we want. The difficulty lies in understanding that difference. There are a lot of things that I think I need that I don’t really need. God sometimes blesses us with the wants, but it is the needs that he promises to his people.
And, thirdly, this is a prayer that recognizes that we are desperately in need of God to provide our daily needs. It is a prayer that reminds us that without God, we cannot even provide the essentials of life (bread and water) for ourselves. It recognizes our dependence upon God.
Friends, we are poor and weak creatures, desperate and bankrupt if left to our own. But in the Lord’s hands, we will be provided for every day.