At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matt. 6:9-13).
The next petition is straightforward, and concerns our earthly needs. The prayer has begun by hallowing the name of the Father in the heavens, and then prays that His kingdom which is also in the heavens would descend to earth. Having come down to earth, the next petition concerns how we will stay alive in the meantime. What shall we eat while the kingdom is coming?
The petition contains the request proper (give), and it contains the timing of the request (this day), and it contains the amount needed (bread for the day).
When we ask God to give us bread, we are looking for something that many unbelievers receive as well, and they receive it without asking. And if we failed to make this request on a given day, we would also likely find our bread anyway. How is it then that this request is not a superfluous one? The answer to this is not so that we might have bread today (which God in His kindness gives abundantly), but rather that we might learn the important lesson of where all bread comes from. We don’t ask for the things we need so that God can find out we need them. We ask for things from God so that we might remember that we need them . . . and Him. Earlier in this sermon, Jesus had explicitly said that God gives rain to both the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). Both the just and the unjust get the water, but the just get the fullness of the blessing.
It is the same with this bread. Unbelievers get bread too, but believers get the bread of life as well as the Bread of Life. In John, the Lord identifies the manna that was given in the wilderness as “bread from heaven.” The word for bread (artos) is the same as the word used in the Lord’s Prayer. “Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat” (John 6:31). And the Lord teaches us that there are two layers to it. There is the physical sustenance that we receive, which unbelievers also do, and then is also the kind of faith which receives spiritual nourishment alongside the physical nourishment. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
Putting all this together, we should never ask for our daily bread unless we are also seeking Christ. We thank the Father for the buttered toast in the name of Jesus, and as we do so, we are communing with Jesus as well.
At the end of this chapter, the Lord teaches us that we should not borrow difficulties from tomorrow, as though we might run out of them today. Each day has plenty of trouble, and the Lord’s teaching is that each day has plenty of provision as well. We are asking God for “just on time” provision, and we are asking God for enough provision to last us until tomorrow, when we will ask again. If someone assumes that they need not do this because they have enough bread in the pantry and freezer to last them for weeks, they have forgotten another lesson from this great sermon. “Where thieves break in an steal, where moth and rust destroy.” Even when we think we have plenty of bread, we are dependent upon God for every moment of every day, and every bite of every meal.