By Not Known

Bread was like rice in the world of the Bible. It was the staple carbohydrate which could be accompanied by many other ingredients to make a fulsome meal.

If you have baked bread the old-fashioned way you know the satisfaction that comes from hand-kneading the dough, adding your own ingredients, watching it rise and delivering it to the table with an enticing oven-fresh aroma. Bread is best baked and eaten daily rather than stewing in plastic on a supermarket shelf or being resuscitated from the freezer.

Bread was not only a staple in Bible times, but it was a day-by-day food. You cooked and you ate. It was the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. All that lies behind the prayer that God will give us bread for this day. This prayer worships God by depending on him to meet our needs. It’s a prayer that expresses contentment with a simple staple rather than a fussy gourmet meal. It’s a prayer that lets the needs of each day be sufficient for that day. In short, it’s the prayer of a simple piety that recognises our need of food, depends on God to meet it as the need arises and which keeps food in balanced perspective. We need ‘bread’ but we do not live by bread alone (Dt 8:3).

Do note that ‘bread’ is used elsewhere in the Bible in a spiritual sense – see Is 55:2; Jn 6:26-51 – and also consider the place of bread in the Lord’s Supper. However, the reference in the Lord’s Prayer is probably just to bread as food.

This prayer is a contrast to Israel’s complaint during the exodus from Egypt (Ex 16). They had daily bread from heaven but were discontent. They wanted the meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic of Egypt and forgot the slavery that went with it (Ex 16:3, Num 11:5). Some were not content with their daily bread but tried to hoard beyond their needs (Ex 16:15-20). This faithless grumbling against God was part of the story that led to their forty years of judgement.

Let’s trust God to meet our needs. Let’s trust him day by day. Let’s be content and mean it when we pray: Give us this day our daily bread.