By Ryan Shaw
Jesus continues with His fourth injunction of what to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:11 reads, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
This fourth petition moves us from the initial set of three and the realm of seeking God and His glory to now our personal needs and God’s generous heart in supplying for us. Jesus is instructing His disciples to look to Him for the supply of their everyday needs and not to another.
He is communicating the heart of absolute care and joy which the Father has in supplying temporal needs to us. More than this we see in this petition the heart of God desiring to interact with us about the seemingly most basic issues.
He already told us in vs. 8 that the Father knows our needs before we state them. So why do we need to bring them before Him?
Because He loves the relationship of a child relating with His Father, seeing our joy when He faithfully supplies and we recognize afresh how involved He is in our lives.
We usually are focused on the end result (we have a need that needs to be met) while He is focused on the relationship and enjoying our dialogue with Him.
The implication of this prayer is that we are to live one day at a time trusting His capacity and kindness to daily give us what is needed. We are not to be anxious and worrying about tomorrow but look to His generous hand for today.
His disciples would have immediately connected the dots with the story of the Israelites in the wilderness gathering manna. It was given for one day only and could not be stored up.
What Jesus is reiterating is that God is worthy of that trust. He is faithful and cannot do wrong toward those extending trust to Him for their temporal needs. God alone is our sustainer in every sense of the word.
Though human pride and humanism seek to tell us otherwise there is no getting around the fact that He is the One holding all things together with His good, patient and kind heart. Our very food is the direct gift from God.
A common error with this prayer is a false assumption that Jesus was endorsing laziness. We are somehow relieved of responsibility in the process and sit around waiting for the manna to fall from heaven.
Instead Jesus is teaching about how prayer in general works. We pray for our needs, putting the ultimate release of them into God’s hands. Our hearts are set upon Him as our ultimate provider.
Then we set our hands to the specific work God has given us at the time. That work produces a paycheck, a crop, or a supply of some kind. God is the One who supplies the job, initiating the entire process, and supplies for our needs using the means of a job, networks of relationships, etc.
In agriculture it is the same. A seed goes into the ground and requires cultivating and watering. The growth and produce come from God but we have a hand in the process.
This is the partnership and cooperation of the body of Christ God is after. We recognize a two-fold truth: that without God we can do nothing and that without our cooperation and commitment to obey God’s leading, God will not supply.
This verse has been twisted and used to advocate a form of “trust” in God that often is not what Jesus meant at all. God uses means to provide for our needs yet it is still all from Him.
Our problem is we often want to dictate to Him how He will supply – most often we mean a miracle of some sort. We sit back and test Him to produce a miracle to meet the need and then doubt Him if this doesn’t happen.
This is no way overlooks the fact that God does wonderful miracles of supply as we see throughout the Bible and church history. What we falsely assume, however, is that this is the norm throughout a lifetime in God’s workings, when Biblically it was almost always the exception.
He does this in specific circumstances to glorify His name and meet specific needs at a particular time or during a particular season. Yet the whole Biblical counsel concludes that He most often uses means He has set in our midst to meet every one of our needs.