Give Us this Day Our Daily Bread, Matthew 6:11
Dr. George Samuel
Approaching a personal God as a loving Father is evident in the prayer that the Lord taught His disciples. This prayer can be a pattern for our prayers as well. While making our supplications it is important to make sure that we should not ask anything that would tarnish His name. We commit to honour God’s name. Before presenting our requests item by item, we need to express our desire to establish God’s plan and accomplish His purposes. Although we can ask to get our things done, we should desire that God’s purposes are accomplished. Among the needs we bring before God, we can boldly pray for meeting our physical needs (asking for daily bread) while our spiritual (deliverance from Satan) as well as psychological needs (forgiveness) are included.
When we pray for daily bread, we acknowledge that God is our sustainer and provider. We also affirm that we trust God daily to provide what He knows we need. Man is a spiritual being with a physical body and, therefore, there is the assurance that God is able to meet our total needs for spiritual and physical nourishment. God’s providence is seen in the food we eat, for it is His gift for our sustenance. God’s providential actions reveal the goodness of His heart and the wisdom of His rule.
Often we take God’s daily provisions for granted. Sometimes, we may even think of such provisions as our personal right. I heard the story of a generous person who decided to give company to the children in a nearby orphanage. He assured them that he would spend one evening every week with them. While there, he told them moral stories and played with them. After a couple of such visits, he thought of taking some delicacies for them. The children were happy and expressed their thankfulness to him. On a busy day, he made it to the orphanage a few minutes late. He did not get the time to stop by the shop on the way, and therefore did not give them chocolates that day. He noticed that the children were angry toward him for not giving them sweets. Do you know why? The children took it for granted that they would receive the sweets without break since they considered it as their right. They forgot all about the gentleman’s generosity and even started accusing him! We should be grateful to the Lord for meeting our daily needs. But we need to receive it everyday as fresh manna, and need to ask Him daily.
I remember an incident in my life as a trainee in the United States. I was there for the first time, over four decades ago. The foreign exchange we were allowed to take those days was limited. We were provided with meals every day except Sunday as part of scholarship assistance. So, we had to eat from outside the campus every Sunday. One Sunday morning I found that all I had was one dollar and thirty seven cents ($1.37), since I had spent my money in buying some books that week. I had a cup of complimentary coffee that was available in the hallway of the hostel instead of breakfast. During the worship service in the Church that morning, I was prompted to place the one dollar in the offering plate. This meant that I had to buy food for the whole day with 37 cents. I knew that the smallest carton of milk was available for 25 cents. I thought I would have that for lunch. Or maybe the Lord wanted me to fast and pray, I thought.
After church, I was walking toward the campus when an elderly couple stopped their car in front of me and told me that they were looking for someone from India who attended the church service. They asked me whether I know one George Samuel from India. I told them I am that person. A mutual friend of ours had written to them about my presence in that city, and therefore they were looking for me. They asked me whether I was free to go with them for lunch. What more did I need? The lunch was so heavy that I did not need any meal that day. When we pray, “give us this day our daily bread”, in most cases we may have some provisions already made for the meal. But I was given an opportunity to pray this prayer meaningfully and trust the Lord for a day’s meal.
The Lord is teaching us to trust Him for our daily meals. There is a misconception that it is we who provide for our own needs. Sometimes, it is not your own meal for which you need to trust, but for those to whom you are responsible to provide, being the bread winner of the family.
Intestinal problems including vomiting and diarrhea were part of the threatening illness my boys suffered. After continuously vomiting for a couple of days, they used to feel very hungry. We used to keep certain items of food that they liked and were suitable for them. Both, my wife and I, ensured that such food items were made available on time.
One day, I was having an afternoon nap and I dreamt that I had died, leaving them orphans. “Where would they go when they needed food, in case, we are taken away from them” I thought. It was a bad dream yet an eye-opening one. I was literally in tears when I woke up. But I felt as if the Lord was chastening me. “Do you think you yourself have been meeting their needs until now? Know that I am the One who is meeting their needs even while you are alive. I will continue to provide even if you depart from this world.” Of course, the Lord has His own ways of reminding us about His daily provisions.
May I take you to an occasion after my wife’s death thirteen years ago. My children and I were together, reading and discussing the Scriptures. All of us were sharing our impressions based on the passage: “Look at the birds of the air…So, do not worry…” (Matt.6: 25-34). The children talked about the wondrous ways through which God led them in the six months after their mother’s death.
Johny (my elder son who died a few years after my wife) read out something he had written in his notes. He replaced the word ‘birds’ with his and his brother’s names: “Look at Johny and Ronnie. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns. They do not prepare for entrance exams, nor do they seek a job; they lack the strength and ability to work… yet the heavenly Father feeds them.” Though nothing could close the gap their mother’s death brought about, they thanked God for meeting all their needs.
God’s love reaches us through others. We know of the Lord’s love for us through our parents, elders and others in time of our needs. God’s love also reaches others through us. We need to be channels of blessing to others in meeting their needs as well, while we trust the Lord and pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”