“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”


This is the most mundane petition of the Lord’s Prayer. As such, it teaches us that there is no aspect of our earthly lives too basic to bother God about. Even the bare necessities for life are opportunities for us to relate to God in prayer. This is not presumptuous on our part; it is his idea, his command, his invitation to pray and to ask him for everything we need, because he wants us to live, and he wants us to live with him. Implicit here is the acknowledgement that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who can truly provide for our life—we are absolutely dependent on him and thankful to him. “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

We understand that many things essential to human life are assumed into this petition: food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe, clothing, shelter, some wealth, physical and emotional health, stable relationships, safe socio-political conditions, and so forth. Since we are asking our Father for our bread, it isn’t just a selfish request but one that is good for all those who pray in the name of Jesus Christ. We are not told to ask for our daily hunter-gatherer findings such as fish or berries, but for food that is a cultural product, a product of our labor together. We ask for the ability for all to work together to provide for the needs of all. “It is [God] who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18). “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). This is not contradictory to the idea of receiving our bread as a gift from God; it is the privilege of participating in the life and image of the God who is the Creator and Provider and Giver of all good gifts.

Ultimately, then, we’re asking to participate in the divine life as God intended for humanity. When Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6), he was announcing the reality of God’s gracious provision of everything we need for our life together with him as his people (2 Peter 1:3). As we pray this petition in Christ, then, and in its place in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray not merely for moment-by-moment survival but for eternal life in God’s presence so that we may always live to hallow God’s name, seek his kingdom, and desire his will to be done in and through us.

Relative to the rest of the Lord’s Prayer, is this the most frequent kind of request you make of God? Do you feel guilty or grateful when you pray this petition, and why? Do you pray this petition in light of the fuller instruction of Jesus on prayer? How might your prayers for daily bread change if they were shaped more by the first half of the Lord’s Prayer? Do you usually pray this prayer by yourself for yourself, or with others and on their behalf? What does it mean when God’s people pray for their daily bread and actually go hungry for lack of food? Does it mean that God doesn’t hear us, doesn’t love us, or can’t do anything to help us? Are you thankful for Christ as the Bread of Life?

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