Many of us have been praying this prayer since childhood and we know it by heart. But the more I think about it the more I realised that I really do not mean what I pray. I do not ask God for my daily bread. I look at my refrigerator and I know my bread is available for tomorrow. I look at my bank balance and I know I am taken care of for a few months. I look at my relationships I know I don’t have to pray daily for my emotional needs. Unless there arises a need I don’t see any reason whatsoever to mean what I am praying.
Also at the core of the prayer, it feels very demeaning, isn’t it? My children do not come and ask me father please give me bread to eat today. No, they demand, they go to the fridge they take what they want and they eat. In fact if the Chocos are not there they complain and order ‘when you go out please bring Chocos’. If that’s how we understand a father and child relationship then why is the Lord teaching us to come to him with this petition, Our Father in heaven, give us this day our daily bread. Isn’t it a bit humiliating? Isn’t it portraying us as helpless? Isn’t it putting us in a posture of receiving with hands stretched out, accepting our defeat? Especially when I am the bread winner?
In a sense, this prayer could be just a religious ritual without meaning anything or it could be very humiliating if we do not understand certain truths about ourselves and about God. So, this morning I want to suggest that the Lord taught us to pray like this for 4 reasons. There could be many more, but let’s meditate on these four reasons.
We forget God’s deliverance in the past
We doubt God’s ability to provide our needs today
We question God’s good intentions for our future
We take matters into our own hands
We forget God’s deliverance in the past
We all suffer with a disease called short term memory. In simple words, we forget. That’s not true for all things, of course. We forget all the good things we have received. But we remember, very well, all the disappointments and heart breaks. In a sense, we have selective memory loss. Like temp files right? Right after the application is closed, it is deleted for ever. But all the times the answer did not come through we record them on the hard disk also make sure we take a backup in an external hard disk as well.
Israel: God’s Deliverance in the past
Israel was in slavery under the Egyptians for hundreds of years. The Lord hears their cries for deliverance and responds to their cry for help by sending Moses. Moses performs great signs in Egypt with the help of the Lord. And leads them to freedom from slavery.
They were heading towards the promised land. Then the scriptures tell us that the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh and he starts chasing the Israelites. And right in front of them is the Red sea. You know how the nation of Israel responded? In fear. They accuse Moses and the Lord. Because they forgot how the Lord had delivered them.
The Lord parts the Red Sea and they walk on the dry land. Again another deliverance. They even sang a song “ the Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation;
But then they journey into wilderness for 3 days and there is no water. Again they forget how the Lord had delivered them from Egypt, from the chasing army, from the red sea, and they grumble. God provides water out of a rock! Yet another deliverance. They travel for a few months, and they run out of food. If they would have learnt anything, they would have trusted God and have confidence that the Lord’s got it and he will sustain them with food. There is nothing impossible for the Lord.
Ex16: 2 They kset out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel lgrumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, m“Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, nwhen we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
As soon as they took their eyes off the Lord, and his glory and majesty and power and started focusing on the wilderness they forget the deliverance and start grumbling against God. This story repeats through out the history of Israel.
God is Faithful: Bread from Heaven
God again delivers them by providing bread from heaven. Every morning fresh bread from heaven. They had to gather how much ever they needed, not more nor less. Just enough for the day.
God took care of their need every day for 40 years.
Ex16: 33 “Take a rjar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.”
It’s interesting that the Lord constantly asks them to erect memorials in order for them to remember how he had delivered them. How he had provided. He knows that we forget. At least by looking at the memorials we might remember.
Israel is a Memorial for us
You know Israel is a wonderful reminder for you and me. Just like them we are delivered from the bondage of Sin and death. God made a covenant with us saying I will take you to the promised land, I will never leave you no forsake you, You need to trust me and follow me. So, just like the Israelites we are day by day heading towards our promised land. But just like the Israelites experienced challenges in the wilderness we too face trials of various kinds. How we respond to them, in a way, reveals whether we really mean it when we pray ‘give us today our daily bread’. A season of uncertainty could be the daily bread we pray for. We should be prepared for it when we pray knowing that God is faithful.
New City Future:
The other day, Ranjit & I were talking about New City. Everything seemed to be going great for our community, 2 services, an excited and committed team. City groups were doing well and we were planning to expand them. But suddenly we have seemed to enter the wilderness. We do not know when we will get out of it. On top of that every week we hear someone leaving the city. It’s heart breaking and scary at times. But we immediately remembered that God is the one who brought people and helped us to see great fruit in this city. If he did it in the past he can do it again in the future. But today we learnt to pray, Lord, give us today the precise community you want us to have.
God says in Matthew 6: ‘I take care of the birds. They don’t sow, they don’t reap but I provide their ration daily. I cloth the lilies of the valley, which are there for today and gone tomorrow. You are more precious than these things. I know your needs. I know you need the bread. I know you need clothing, I know you have emotional and physical needs. I know before you even ask. Don’t worry about these. Just look back and see how I have sustained you thus far and I will sustain you in the days ahead. Just trust me, seek me and my righteousness and leave the rest to me.
Give us this day our daily bread is a beautiful memorial that God cares for our needs however insignificant or big. God was faithful in the past, He is faithful today and he will be faithful all the days of our lives.
We doubt God’s ability to provide for our needs today
When we forget God’s deliverance in the past, we doubt his ability to do the same again. This is so powerfully illustrated for us here in Exodus and we also see the same in the New Testament, in Mark. 6 & 8
Let me tell you the NT incident first.
Jesus feeds the 5k, 4k
In the New Testament we see a similar account right. In Mark 6 : 30 we see Jesus providing food for 5000 people. Their immediate need of food was taken care of by Jesus. He knew that they not only needed the spiritual food, his teaching, but also that in order to live they needed bread. So, he asked the disciples to get them bread. They say, ‘are you out of your mind? to buy food for these many guys we need a year’s wages. Also at this time and hour all the supermarkets would be closed.’ Jesus takes 5 bread and 2 fish and looks to the Father in heaven and blesses him for who he is, and then goes on to provide a meal for thousands of people and 12 baskets of leftovers were collected.
But the beauty of the story does not end there. In Mark 8, again we see the same challenge, this time 4000 people in the same scenario but a different geographic place.
Again, Jesus asks his disciples to provide food for them. What should have been their response? Lord please pray to the father to provide just like you did last time. But, no, they forget and doubt whether he will be able to do it again. Jesus again multiplies the bread and fish and all ate until they were satisfied.
We forget and we doubt.
It’s wonderful the way the Lord teaches this truth through this narrative. He is able, not just for today or tomorrow, but forever and ever.
Bread from heaven everyday
Coming back to the narrative in Exodus.
Ex16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain obread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may ptest them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, qit will be twice as much as they gather daily.
As we read we see that some doubted God’s faithfulness. They try to preserve for the next day. The extra food bred worms and stank. But when they gathered extra of the same manna on the sixth day for two days because the seventh day was a day of rest, it did not stink nor were there any worms.
What they were saying was, ‘I doubt you would be able to provide me with my daily needs. I will keep some for tomorrow.’ This doubt leads us to store for not just a day but for life time, retirement, for next generation. We do not mean this prayer precisely because we store up for tomorrow.
LockDown/ Panic shopping
Let me confess. Early March when I sensed there will be a lock down, I asked Christy to make a list of essential supplies that we need for a month at least and order and keep. I told couple of friends also to do the same. There is nothing wrong in planning like this to provide for your family. But deep inside I know why I was doing it. I was afraid. What if there will not be any groceries available. What if my family has to starve. I did not come to the Lord and pray “ Give us this day our daily bread”. With all my heart I believed God would not be able to give me my daily bread.
Israel was provided their daily bread on a day to day basis. They witnessed God’s ability to provide and God’s deliverance and God’s faithfulness for 40 years in the wilderness without failing for a single day.
This is again a reminder for us.
Let’s be honest, when we face new circumstances and new challenges,
We doubt what you did in the past is past Jesus, but
We doubt about your ability to provide for me today.
We doubt your ability to lead us in these uncertain and troubling times.
We doubt whether you are able to give us a future. We doubt.
This prayer, ‘Give us today our daily bread’ is a memorial for us not to doubt God’s power and ability to provide our needs daily. He is God, He is enthroned and worthy to be worshiped. He is in charge of the heavenly store house. He will take care of our every day needs.
We question God’s good intentions for our future
Most parents will relate to what I am going to say. Children time and again ask for many things. Some things we give them and some we do not. When we give them what they ask for, we can see how delighted they are. We get a big hug and kisses. But when we deny something, boy, you as a parent should be prepared for what all you are going to hear. They will be like, You never give us what we ask, You are a horrible and mean parent. You don’t love us. Look at my friends already have mobile phones. Their parents love them much more than you guys… They just vent out their displeasure without a filter.
But as a parent, I know what the purpose of a mobile phone is and I know precisely when they should have it. If I give them a gadget of their own now, I am basically giving them something that can destroy them. But they don’t get it. I can’t reason with them. But as a parent I take their tantrums with a smile and give them much more than what they are asking for at the right time. We all appreciate this when we think about our parents and how they raised us, right? But for a child, often the parents are ruthless and not loving.
Interestingly, we behave exactly the same with our heavenly father. Here again, when we see the narrative, God promised them a land of their own, flowing with milk and honey. He promised this to Abraham 400 years before even the nation came to be. Here they are heading towards that promised land.
As soon as Pharaoh started chasing them, they say in
14:11. “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what fwe said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
Oh, that’s a pretty strong language. No water,What shall we drink? No food, Ex:
16: 3m“Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, nwhen we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
What was the Lord’s larger plan for them? To bless them to prosper them, to give them much needed rest in the promised land. He just wanted them to trust him knowing who he is and have the confidence that he would accomplish what he set forth to accomplish. They had witnessed his great works to be able to have that confidence.
But yet, they constantly questioned the future plans the Lord had for them.
We are no different from them, we are heading towards our heavenly home. Each passing day we are getting closer and closer. The sufferings are real.The heartbreaks are real. The Corona is refusing to leave.The future looks not so promising.
But the truth is we are seeing things with our limited vision. We do not know what tomorrow is going to bring. We do not know what our plans turn out to be. But the Lord knows from eternity to eternity.
The awareness of our limitation and limited scope of our ability and at the same time the awareness of God’s vision and his power should bring us to our knees and pray with all of our hearts, acknowledging who he is and seeking him earnestly to meet our daily needs, knowing that he has good plans for us.
So, this prayer is a reminder not to question his plans for our future but to trust him for today, tomorrow and forever and ever.
This prayer perhaps also gives us a warning. That’s the last reason I am going to talk about, why the Lord asks us to pray for our daily needs.
We take matters into our own hands
If we forget the Lord’s deliverance in the past, His ability to provide for our needs today, and question his good plans for us in the future, we end up taking matters into our own hands.
It’s not in the portion today. But if we read Numbers 14,
2 And all the people of Israel jgrumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or kwould that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? lOur wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to one another, m“Let us choose a leader and ngo back to Egypt.”
They were basically saying that God can’t take us to the promised land, so let’s take matters into our hands and head back to Egypt. The reality of the promised land is not tangible to them, so they need faith to see it and to have it. The tangible thing for them was Egypt, which is slavery and handwork. But they are willing to take it because at least they felt in charge. The reality was that the Egyptians were in charge. But they had this false security that they were in control.
Preservation & Security
I started looking for a job before getting married in 2006 thinking I needed more money in order to start a family. I shared this with my mentor from church. He asked me if I was saying that God can’t sustain me in this city with the money I was earning. I realised what I was doing. I surrendered to God’s will and never applied for a job again. God has been faithful in providing for me and my family all these years.
False sense of accomplishment.
Many of us take pride in being called ‘The bread winner of the family.’
But are we really? It’s true that we work hard for our employer, but what is the guarantee that the employer would pay? What is the guarantee that we would leave office and reach home alive? What is the guarantee that we would see another day?
The moment we stop depending on God and start taking control of our lives, what we are basically saying is,
I am, a mere mortal,
hallowed be your name,
Your dominion may increase,
Your will be done in your life, and may God dance to your tunes.
We are dethroning God from his position and enthroning ourselves as gods.
Jesus teaches us this prayer to remind us of who we are and most importantly who He is.
This prayer is a wonderful,Acknowledgement that we are created beings , our humility, temporary nature. Its a reminder that he is in control and us. Its an acknowledgement of our dependency on him and total surrender
But is it possible to live like this? Who can live like this?
RC Sproul narrates this powerful story. In 1950, when the Korean War left many Korean kids orphans, lots of missionaries reached out to help the kids and provide them with food and shelter. In one such shelter, even though the kids were given food and basic necessities, the kids were always anxious and restless and they could not sleep at night. Eventually, they found the solution. Every night, before the kids went to bed, the nurses would give a piece of bread in the hands of the kids. It’s not for eating but to hold onto. You see, for days before being rescued, they had been on the streets, scraping for food from garbage cans. Not sure about when and where they will get something to eat. Even when they were being taken care of, that uncertainty of tomorrow haunted them. But when they held on to that piece of bread, it gave them comfort, and also the assurance that they will be taken care of tomorrow as well.
No matter what we all go through, we live in a similar way to some degree or another. God knows how much the thought of hunger can haunt us. So, he is teaching us through this prayer. He knows that we are anxious beings, our lives are full of sorrows and worries. So, he is assuring us through this prayer. But you and I may ask at least those kids in Korea had a piece of bread to hold on to What do I have? What is my security What is is my comfort? What is my assurance?
The Lord answers these in Jesus.
Isn’t it remarkable amongst all the pictures Jesus could use to describe himself, he chooses bread. ‘I am the bread of life’.
JOHN 6 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, ywhoever believes has eternal life. 48 zI am the bread of life. 49 aYour fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and bthey died. 50 cThis is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it dand not die. 51 I am the living bread ethat came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give ffor the life of the world is gmy flesh.”
Jesus the Son of God, who came down from heaven.
The Lords prayer is a reminder of who we are and who he is and the covenant he made to dwell amongst us and to sustain us. This prayer is all about Jesus. Who shows us how we need to live, He is our Model.
In the wilderness, Jesus depended on his Father for deliverance, where there was no food. You can have all the bread in the world, but yet the next moment your life would be demanded from you and you are gone. I am not going to rely on bread to live. I will live by seeking my father’s words. If he says live I will live, If he says you die. I will die. Man shall not life by bread alone, but every word that precedes from the mouth of God. You and I need to be radically transformed in our thinking. Bread can get us through few hours. But the word of God for eternity. Give us this day our spiritual food, Jesus. I do not want to be hungry today.
Jesus did not doubt his Father’s ability to provide when he looked up to heaven to feed 4000 or 5000. He not only provides our spiritual bread also our physiological needs. He is more than able. In his humanity he provided. Now he is seated at the highest throne and he will give us according to the heavenly riches.
Jesus did not question his Father’s good intentions when he prayed for the cup to pass away, but wilfully surrendered to his father’s will. When we are asking for our daily bread we are basically surrendering to the will of the Father like Jesus. If you think I need bread today, give Lord. Otherwise it’s alright, I will wait for your perfect timing.
Jesus did not take matters into his own hands, When he was arrested, when things were going south, when Peter took matters into his own hands by cutting off the ear of the servant of high priest, Jesus rebukes him and let the soldiers arrest him as per the will of the Father.
Give us today our daily bread means no matter how hopeless things are becoming, and everything seems to be going south, I will not take matters into my own hands. I know who you are and I am aware who I am.
Let us pray
Our Father in heaven,
hhallowed be iyour name.1
10 jYour kingdom come,
kyour will be done,2
lon earth as it is in heaven.
11 mGive us nthis day our daily bread,3
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And olead us not into temptation,
but pdeliver us from qevil.4