Here are some personal reflections on “give us this day our daily bread.”
First, as with all Scripture, I am astounded by the fact that I am able to read the very words of the eternal Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth in black (or red) letters on a white page. A first century Galilean wrote, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…” (John 1:14) One of his contemporaries said, “…many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account… (of “all that Jesus began to do and teach” Acts 1) that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Eyewitnesses. An orderly account. Certainty.
An ad for a seminary said, “The Son of God becomes a man and there’s a written record? Maybe that’s worth a little study.” Yes. Yes it is. I’m able to read and pray in a manner taught by the eternal Son of God himself. This boggles my mind. I don’t want to take this for granted. I hope you won’t either.
The request for our heavenly Father to give us our daily bread reminds me of my identity-in-community. I’m in a family fathered by God. It’s not just me, it's us. It’s not just my needs, it's our needs. This is often lost on me.
Conventional wisdom tells me I’m with a bunch of folks I don’t know very well when I walk into Cottage Grove on Sunday morning. My faith tells me I’m with my family—God’s family. Jesus confronts my selfishness. I’m taught by Christ to care about your needs too (Phil. 2:3). “A person all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.”
The request for our heavenly Father to give us our daily bread reminds me of my frail, “clay pot” (2 Cor. 4), humanity. I’m ordinary. I’m needy. I’m human. I get worn out and stressed out. Rich Mullins wrote a song called, “We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are.” An old hymn says, “I Need Thee Every Hour.” When our kids were young we’d sing, “For health, and strength, and daily food—we give Thee thanks, O Lord.” I often take my health, strength, and daily food for granted. One of my growing edges is recognition and contentment with weakness. Paul cultivated dependence on the “always enough” grace of God-in-Christ. (cf. 2 Cor. 12)
Trusting God is scary, counterintuitive, and overrated when you actually have to trust him. It’s not “fun.” I must say, however, that God has shown himself to be reliable, trustworthy, and faithful. “You never learn that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” I’m often more focused on our Father’s stuff than our Father. Jesus wants me to talk to him about this on a daily basis.
Finally, I‘ve been reflecting on what it is to be human in our fractious cultural moment. I think there are things that all people, regardless of their labels or letters, have in common. All humans have appetites. All humans need air, water, food, and sleep. We all want to love and be loved. We all feel anger, sadness, joy, fear, and shame. We all seek to justify ourselves when we feel defensive. I think my appetites, for example my hunger for food and time with my wife, Kathleen, point to greater needs (Matt. 4:4).
Talking to God about my tendency to worry reminds me that God knows, understands, and cares (Mt. 6:25-34). Asking our Father for our daily bread reminds me of The Bread of Life (John 6:22ff.). The power and beauty of The Way, The Truth, and The
Life can ease my agitation and relax my racing mind (Lk. 10:38ff.). In the words of another follower of Christ, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Loving and holy Father, give us this day our daily bread.