At the heart of the prayer that Jesus taught His followers to pray is a request for “daily bread.” Often, this idea of daily bread is interpreted as a simple reference to thankfulness or petition for daily physical provisions. For those in cultures or stations of life where daily food is a given, this can seem to be an irrelevant request. However, Jesus’ reference to “daily bread” is a much broader concept than simply physical sustenance. To be sure, it includes that but it is so much more.
Understanding the concept of “daily bread” is vital to living each day in a place of surrender to the Father. Daily bread is a promise that He will provide what we need to live … not just physically but with our entire being.
When Jesus talked about daily bread, those in His first century context would have immediately thought of the daily bread that was provided for the people of Israel as the journeyed from slavery in Egypt to the promised land. Miraculously, God gave the people manna which appeared every morning. It was only good for that day … it was literally a “daily bread”. God was setting up a physical tool for teaching His people to trust Him day to day. Alcoholics Anonymous famously teaches to “live one day at a time.” That wisdom is rooted deeply in Biblical history.
When Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, He was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread. The temptation was to self-preservation … to take care of Himself on His own terms. Jesus responds by saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) He was quoting Deuteronomy 8:2-3 which says “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
God promises to give us what need to live each day … enough strength to face today’s challenges, enough wisdom to face today’s problems, enough love to face today’s hurts, and enough faith to face today’s uncertainties. The promise is that He gives Himself. He is the “bread of life” (John 6:35). Every word that comes from Him sustains us … both what we hear from the Scriptures and what we hear in prayer.
He promises to be “daily” bread and our challenge is to live day by day. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says: “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” It is only in the present moment that we have a promise to experience Him and enjoy the gift of His presence. We might be tempted to dwell on the past or obsess about the future, but He challenges us to live with Him today. It doesn’t mean that we don’t unpack the past and learn or that we don’t plan for the future, but our lives are to be lived in the present … trusting Him as our bread.
As I pray and ask Him to give me daily bread, I am asking Him to be what I need for today. I am asking Him and then trusting that what He gives is enough to do what He has for me. And the joy is that I end up doing each day, each task with Him. And that’s the part that He loves – that I do what I do with Him.