Scripture Reference: Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Matthew 6:8-13, Matthew 6:11, Matthew 6:31-34, Matthew 7:9-11
Our Daily BreadRev. Philip Miller | May 8, 2022
Scripture Reference: Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Matthew 6:8-13, Matthew 6:11, Matthew 6:31-34, Matthew 7:9-11
Selected highlights from this sermon
Most people try not to bother God with the little things. Life feels manageable. We rationalize that we are smart, industrious, and hardworking. We feel self-reliant, independent, and free. That sounds a lot like America—Freedom is independence! But it doesn’t sound much like Jesus.
In this passage, Jesus is going to open our eyes to what real freedom looks like. And He’s going to do it with a simple prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Pastor Miller walks us through five characteristics of prayer that will recalibrate our soul’s orientation to God. We need to realize we are made for utter dependence on God, physically and spiritually, and that there is no living without Him.
Far too often we treat prayer like a cosmic 911 service. You know, some emergencies happen and then all of a sudden we become praying people.
“Help God! I lost my job.”
“Help God! The doctor just called and gave me the news.”
“Help God! I’m in a mess of trouble.”
“God, I try not to bother you with the little stuff. I kind of handle that on my own, but this, this is huge. This this is bigger than me so I’m calling in the big guns. I really need you to do me a favor here on this one. I promise I’ll never ask for anything again.
You see, most of the time life feels pretty manageable. We’re smart, industrious, hardworking people. And with time and money we can kind of make most of our problems sort of just go away. We’re pretty self-reliant like that, independent, free. We don’t want to be a burden on anybody else, so we do our best to kind of manage through life on our own, and hope to avoid the kind of big life emergencies where others would have to come and help us out, including God.
Now, in the best-case scenario, if we could write the script, we would never have to call anybody for help. We want to be strong, independent, self-sufficient to the very end. That sounds a lot like America, but it does not sound a lot like Jesus. In America we believe that freedom is independence. But Jesus is going to open our eyes this morning to what real freedom looks like, and He’s going to do it with a simple prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Would you open your Bibles? We’re going to be in Matthew 6:9–13, words many of us know. You’ll find this on page 811 in your pew Bible. This is The Lord’s Prayer. And since it’s so familiar to us, let’s read it aloud together this morning. Jesus introduces it and says, “Pray then like this.”
Let’s read together these words:
“Our Father in Heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]” Amen.
As we are about to study these words of the Lord, would you bow your heads. Let’s pray and ask the Lord to be our teacher.
Father, open our eyes today to real freedom, to real life. Teach us to pray the way Jesus prays, for it’s in His name we come to You. Amen. Amen.
Now, we’re working our way through The Lord’s Prayer, phrase-by-phrase. And today we come to this particular phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s a prayer request, a simple ask for what is one of the most basic of all human needs, bread. And I want to show you this morning five insights into this little phrase. This is a Surrendered Prayer. It’s a Communal Prayer, an Earnest Prayer, a Holistic Prayer, and a Trustful Prayer–five things.
Remember surrendered, communal, earnest, holistic, trustful. Let’s go.
Number one: it’s a surrendered prayer, surrendered prayer. I think it’s significant that where this prayer is located, where this prayer request falls in the sequence of requests that are offered here within The Lord’s Prayer. Notice that this prayer request, “Give us this day our daily bread,” is about halfway through the prayer. And it is the very first time there is a request that is directly related to us, to our needs. Everything else to this point has been very Godward in focus.
“Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be your name.” May you be believed and obeyed and feared and glorified in all the universe! May you receive the honor that is due your name! Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. May your kingly rule and reign be established in fullness here on this earth so that everything is just as you want it to be. Have your own way in all creation and in my life as well.
Everything up unto this midpoint in the prayer has been God entranced, right? I mean it is only after all of these God-entranced prayers that Jesus now adds, “Give us (give us) this day our daily bread.”
I think this is instructive. Jesus is training us to focus our attention on God first, and then bring our prayers, our needs, to Him second. And I think what Jesus is doing there is He’s recalibrating our souls. He’s recalibrating our souls. We instinctively (you think about it), we instinctively think to our own needs first, don’t we? We instinctively think about our needs first. They loom large in our hearts and in our minds. When we are in pain or distress we naturally instinctively become a little bit self-absorbed, don’t we? We do. We start to think about ourselves, and Jesus is teaching us to lift our eyes to see our needs in light of a bigger picture, to understand the plotline of the story of our lives within the arc of a grander narrative, to bring our daily needs before the Father, and at the same time, remember the glorious purposes of God. Remember the glorious purposes of God.
Friends, Jesus is teaching us to remember that we live in a glorious story, full of glorious purposes, and glorious redemption, moving to a glorious end. Our Father’s name will be hallowed in all the Earth. His kingdom will come. His will shall be done on Earth as it is in heaven, and there is immense freedom when we bring our needs to God in light of eternity. It doesn’t negate or diminish what we’re going through, but it does put things in perspective, doesn’t it? It helps us remember that God is in the process of redeeming the universe, and He can redeem our stories too. And so we learn to come to our Father with open hands, surrendered to His glorious purposes in our lives and in all the universe. It’s a surrendered prayer, you see, a surrendered prayer.
Secondly: this is a communal prayer, a communal prayer. Notice that this request, “Give us this day our daily bread,” is plural. It’s plural. Jesus is teaching us to pray, not only for our own needs, but also for the needs of our neighbors. My neighbor’s need for bread is my prayerful concern. Do you see that? My neighbor’s need for bread is my prayerful concern. I’m not the only one with needs here. Jesus is recalibrating our souls. Instead of myopically focusing on my needs, my wants, my desires, my pain, my problems, Jesus is teaching us to bear one another’s burdens, to remember that we’re not the only ones with great need in this world, and to pray on behalf of all of God’s children for His provision for the needs of us all. Jesus is teaching us to bring our daily needs before our Father and, at the same time remember the needs of your neighbor. Remember the needs of your neighbor.Friends, there’s immense freedom when we begin to see our needs alongside the needs of others. It doesn’t negate or diminish what we’re going through, but it does put it in perspective. It helps us remember that we’re not alone, that the things we face are normal. They are very human. And as we lift each other’s needs up in prayer, our world starts to get a little bit wider. We see things just a little bit clearer as we begin to look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. And so we come to our Father with loving hearts, lifting up one another’s needs in prayer. This is a communal prayer, a communal prayer.
Thirdly: it’s an earnest prayer, an earnest prayer.
At the heart of this request is the most basic of human needs, daily rations, daily bread. Our daily bread. There’s no more earnest prayer than that: “Please, just a little bread to get by.”
In Jesus’ day, bread was part of the staple diet. Everybody had bread and ate it. That was the majority of the food that they ate. They supplemented it with small dried fish or, on special occasions, lamb or beef. But most of the time they had bread.
What’s for breakfast? Bread. What’s for lunch? Bread. What’s for dinner? More bread! When they ran out of bread, they didn’t go to the store. They died. The average family spent 85% of their income (annual income) on food. They were paid daily wages and they went out and purchased daily bread. Subsistence living. That’s what this prayer is for.
“Father, give us the bread we need to live, one day at a time.” “Father, give us the bread we need to live, one day at a time.”
Now, for the Jewish people they would have immediately thought back to Exodus 16 where God provided the Israelite people “manna” in the wilderness one day at a time, daily bread from heaven. Every morning the Israelite people would wake up and they would go out, and as the morning dew lifted, they found these wafer-like cracker-bread things all over the ground, and God told them to collect exactly what they would need for the number of people in their family for one day. That’s it! If they gathered more than they needed for one day and stored it over night, they would find the manna full of worms, rotten in the morning. Okay? There was one exception to this and that was on the Sabbath. They weren’t allowed to work on the Sabbath, and gathering manna would constitute work, so God said on the day prior to the Sabbath day, they were instructed they were to gather a double-portion. And God promised that it wouldn’t turn to worms the next day like it did every other day. On this day, it wouldn’t turn to worms. He would preserve their Sabbath bread to meet their needs. That’s the story.
Now, in this prayer, when Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread,” there’s a very interesting connection between this prayer and the manna and the Sabbath principle that we have back in Exodus 16. The word that Jesus uses here that’s translated “daily bread” is very weird. In fact, scholars believe that Jesus made it up. Okay? It shows up nowhere else in all of Greco Roman literature. It’s only used twice, as far as we know, as far as we know, and both of the times it’s in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke, chapter 11. This is the only time it’s used. Because of that, because it’s unique, scholars really don’t know how to translate it. The bread part, everyone gets. The bread is easy. The question is, “What is this modifier on it, the ‘daily’ part?” What does that mean?
Now, a growing number of scholars have done research and they have found the root of the word that Jesus is combining with the word bread, and they think it’s showing up actually in Acts in a couple places. And in Acts it’s in the travelogue period where Luke is telling about their agenda, and he says repeatedly, “And the next day they went and did this, and the next day they went and did this, and the next day. The root of the word that Jesus is sticking with bread in the Lord’s Prayer is in that other word that is used by Luke about the next day. So if these scholars are correct that that’s where this word is coming from, and that’s the connection, what Jesus is saying here is, “Give us this day our next day’s bread.” “Give us this day our next day’s bread,” which (connect the dots to Exodus 16) means that Jesus is thinking about Sabbath bread.
Sabbath bread. Every day they gathered the bread for today, but day before Sabbath they gathered their next day’s bread, Sabbath bread. Every day the Israelites had to trust in the provision of God for their daily manna, their daily bread, but on the Sabbath they had to do something else. Not only did they have to trust in the provision of God, they also had to trust in the promise of God that the bread wouldn’t turn to maggots and worms. On the Sabbath they had to trust His promise that He would preserve their Sabbath bread to meet their needs.
On the Sabbath they were helpless to meet their own needs. They had to trust that God alone would provide according to His promise. Friends, Jesus is teaching us to bring our daily needs before our Father, and at the same time, remember, to rest in God’s provision and promise. Rest in God’s provision and promise. Friends, in this request, “Give us this day the bread we need for tomorrow,” Jesus is inviting us all to rest, to cease striving, to cast all of our cares upon Him, because He cares for us. Jesus is inviting us to live into the reality of the Upside-Down Kingdom where we can rest in the rule and the reign of God in His kingdom reality, and trust that He will provide according to His promise in our lives.
Later, in this very chapter, Jesus said this. This is Matthew 6:31 to 33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?” or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Jesus is saying, “Come. Come find rest in the kingdom of heaven. Come. Leave it to me to preserve your Sabbath bread for all of your tomorrows. I’ve got this. I’ve got you.”
Matthew 6:34, the very next verse, Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” You leave the next day’s bread to me. I’ve got it. No maggots, no worms, I’ve got you.
Friends, there’s immense freedom when we rest our needs in the provision and promise of our Father. It doesn’t negate or diminish what we’re going through, but it does put it in perspective because our God is faithful and His promises are sure and He’s got us every day of our lives. It’s an earnest prayer, isn’t it? It’s an earnest prayer.
Fourthly, it’s holistic. It’s a holistic prayer. In Deuteronomy 8:3, God tells us His purpose in sending the manna to the Israelites in the Old Testament, in this whole double-portion thing on the Sabbath. This is what Moses said about that: “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 proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” Famous verses.
In other words, God’s provision of bread wasn’t ultimately about bread, was it? The bread was an illustration about a deeper reality, that they were utterly dependent on God for their physical sustenance. And likewise, they were utterly dependent on God for their spiritual nourishment as well. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord (the promise of God).”
Now you may recognize those words from Matthew 4:4 where Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (interesting), the very hungry Jesus in the wilderness tempted to turn stones into loaves of bread, very interesting parallel. You see Jesus is prevailing where the Israelites fail in the wilderness. Remember Jesus’ response to Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” See, Satan’s temptation wasn’t just about bread. Satan’s temptation was to get Jesus, in this moment of great hunger and need, to stop trusting in the provision and promise of His Father, to stop looking to His Father for His needs to be met, to start looking to Himself instead.
The temptation wasn’t ultimately about bread. The bread was an illustration that pointed to a deeper reality. Would Jesus choose to live as a dependent Son, trusting in the provision and promise of His Father, or would He take matters into His own hand, trusting only in Himself, and strike out on His own? This is the question.
So, friends, “Give us this day our daily bread” isn’t ultimately about bread, is it? This bread, this prayer request for bread is an illustration of a deeper reality, that we were made for utter dependence on God, physically, yes, but also spiritually, and that there is no living without God. That’s the point.
Jesus is teaching us to bring our daily needs before our Father, and at the same time remember that man shall not live by bread alone. Man shall not live by bread alone.
Friends, there is immense freedom when we embrace our created design, and entrust our needs, physical and spiritual, to our Father’s care. It doesn’t negate or diminish what we’re going through, but it does put it in perspective because God is God and we are not. We are His children, and the sheep of His pasture, and we look to Him because He is life itself, and He cares for us, body and soul. It’s a holistic prayer, you see. A holistic prayer.
Finally, fifth, it’s a trustful prayer, a trustful prayer. I hope you see that this is a child’s prayer. It begins with “Our Father, give us this day our daily bread.” It’s a simple request of childlike faith. “Daddy, may I have some bread?” My son asks me for snacks every hour, on the hour, all day long. “Daddy, can I have some bread?”
Remember what Jesus said? It’s actually later in the Sermon on the Mount in chapter 7, verses 9 to 11. “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?”
Whoa, hold on! Remember the temptation of Jesus? Stone, bread, look at that. “Which of you, if your son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Of if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Friends, Jesus is teaching us to pray like little children, to come to our good Father who loves us and delights in us and loves giving good gifts to His children. There’s no need to rehearse, no need to bargain, no need to plead, no need to make your case. Just ask, seek, and knock because, Matthew 6:8: “Your Father knows what you need before you [even] ask Him.”
Friends, our Father may not give us everything we ask for, but He always gives us everything we need. He gives us what’s best. Friends, this is the very opposite of orphan-hearted living.
Orphan-hearted living: “No one’s looking out for me. I’ve got to fend for myself. After all, I’m alone in the universe. It’s all on me to take care of me because I’m all I’ve got. So I’ll go get enough bread and I’ll never have to ask anyone ever for anything. When I fill up my barns I’ll build bigger barns, and then I’ll be totally independent, self-sufficient, and I will be free.” That’s orphan talk, friends? Do you hear it?
It’s sad because deep down we’re lonely and anxious and scared. And Jesus is teaching us something totally different. He’s teaching us that this universe is a perfectly safe place to be when you have God as your Father. (applause)
Friends, there’s no scarcity in the kingdom of God. Your Father knows what you need before you even ask, before you even think it. And He loves to give good gifts to His children. So just ask Him, “Father, give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus is teaching us to bring our daily needs before the Father. And at the same time remember that you are the beloved child of a good Father. You are the beloved child of a good Father.
Friends, if the Gospel is true, and it is, then Jesus has done everything necessary to make you right with God. Jesus died in your place and for your sake. He bore all of your sin and shame on the cross. He rose again to reconcile you to the Father so that you might be adopted as His sons and daughters forever, and if we would just admit that we’re sinners and believe that Jesus is enough, and commit our lives to Him, we will become children of God in Christ. And there is immense freedom in praying as beloved children secure in the loving provision and promises of a good Father.
It doesn’t negate or diminish what you’re going through, but it does put it in perspective because everything, everything is filtered through His loving hands, and He is even now working all things, all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. He is working all things for your good and His glory, and He is never against you, always for you. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. All His promises for you are yes and Amen, and you are perfectly safe in the arms of your Father, now and forevermore. (applause)
And it’s a trustful prayer. It’s a trustful prayer.
Friends, don’t you see how this prayer turns the world upside down? We think life and freedom is found in being self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-secured. We believe freedom is independence, not having to depend on anybody. And it leaves us lonely, anxious, and scared, but we were never meant to live as orphans, friends. That’s why Jesus has given us a better way. Jesus is showing us that freedom is in dependence. Freedom is in dependence. Jesus is teaching us how to live in real freedom as beloved children of God who simply ask. Give us this day our daily bread. Give us this day our daily bread.
Would you pray with me?
Father, sometimes I think we have the worst muscle memory possible. People let us down left and right, and so we learn not to trust, not to ask, not to seek, not to knock, not to be dependent. We shake off our childish ways, and we grow up and become hard and calloused. But all along, you have never given up on us. You have pursued us in love, and you’re inviting us home, back to become, once again, like little children who have a good Father. And you see our dependence not as weakness but as what we were made for.
Living as orphans is lonely. It’s stressful. Help us be children again. Help us come home. Help us believe. Help us become like little children that we might enter the kingdom of the heavens that is right here on offer in Jesus Christ. Show us the way.
Jesus, our Savior, our Lord and our captain, we pray this in your name, Amen.