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Our Daily Bread

May 8, 2006
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The line from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” has much in it that can teach us in our modern culture of abundance.

Bread (lechem) had a special significance in Jesus’s culture, and still does today. The word “bread” was representative of all food and for sustenance from God more generally. When a meal was eaten, the blessing that was said over bread applied to the entire meal (as Jesus said in Mark 8:6). Throwing bread away was considered a sin. Even today in Jerusalem, people hang discarded bread in bags near the street so that it is available for the poor to take. This is because sharing one’s bread was and is regarded as a great religious duty (Isaiah 58:7; Proverbs 22:9); and withholding it from the hungry, a sin (Job 22:7).

When we hear Jesus’s words about “our daily bread,” they hint at the manna provided in the desert, when God supplied the needs of the Israelites miraculously each morning. Every day they could only gather enough for the current day and trust that the miracle would be repeated again the next morning.

Jesus may also have been alluding to the passage from Proverbs 30 (quoted at the beginning of this article) that asks God for only our “allotted bread” (lechem huki), often translated “daily bread.” It specifically asks for not too much! And it reminds us that too many riches may make us forget God, while at the same time, poverty may reduce us to crime. In our culture, we certainly are more familiar with how easy it is for wealth to make us feel we have no need of God.

While we hardly see the need to pray for our daily bread, a pastor from Uganda reminded us that in many places in the world, “Give us our daily bread” expresses the continual worry of most people. In the Bible, to have enough food to be full was a blessing from the Lord; and to be fat was a sign of bounty, although it often meant that sharing with others had been neglected.

As we pray these words, we should hear in them a lesson that we can trust God for each day’s needs. If we can’t see where tomorrow’s bread will come from, we should be thankful because the Lord is helping us to stay close to Him. And we should also be mindful of others who need our help, so we can be God’s hands in providing for them as well.

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