- Daily Bread
- Matthew 6:11
- Lyndol Loyd January 21, 2018
This morning we are continuing on in our series “Teach Us to Pray” based on what many of us will know as The Lord’s Prayer. Scripture records for us the story of the disciples coming to Jesus. They have noticed that prayer is an incredibly important part of His life and so they ask him to show them how to pray.
Jesus gives them these words that we find in Luke 11:1-4, “Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
2 Jesus said, ‘This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon.
3 Give us each day the food we need,
4 and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”’”
We have been breaking down the phrases that are part of this prayer and looking at what it means for us to pray these things today. Today, we are going to examine, “Give us today our daily bread.”
Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
A woman stands at her open closet door packed from floor to ceiling with shirts, pants, dresses, shoes, sweaters, coats, and all kinds of other clothes. Her eyes scan back and forth, up and down. She pushes clothes on hangers left and right, looking for something, anything that suits her fancy. Her face is locked in an expression bordering somewhere between disappointment and disgust. Then she says I, while standing in front of a wall of clothes that could dress a medium-sized village of people, she cries out, “Uggh! I don’t have anything to wear!”
Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
A teenager spends five minutes rummaging through the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator looking for a snack. He scans the six kinds of cereal lined up in colorful boxes. he passes over two kinds of toaster pastries because the fruity filling is not his favorite. He snarls in disgust at the half-dozen beverage options because someone else has finished his favorite flavor of soda and has dared to leave the empty bottle in the fridge just to taunt him. At last he shouts out so that his parents, neighbors and all of heaven can hear, “There’s nothing to eat in this house!”
Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
- How do we learn to pray for “daily bread” when ten-year olds carry around smart phones that cost as much as a family’s full year income in many parts of the world?
- What does it mean to ask God for enough bread for the day when we live in a Texas meat-and-potato kind of world?
- What does this portion of the Lord’s prayer say to those of us living in a time of abundance and plenty?
One of the best ways to understand what it means to pray for, and live with daily bread, is to relate closely with people who really do need a loaf of bread (or pot of beans or pan of rice) for the new day. If they don’t have it, they will be in desperate straits.
It gives us the benefit of perspective that we wouldn’t otherwise have. It places us face to face with poverty and pain we wouldn’t come into contact with on a normal day. For me, the first time that ever happened in any kind of a vivid way was when at twenty-one years old I went to Guatemala on a mission trip for the first time.
I spent most of the two weeks living and working at a children’s home where the needs were certainly great. But one of the days we were there we went out to a mountain village where I saw poverty unlike anything I had ever seen before. I met a family who lived in a cardboard box and who had a small fire on the ground that they used to cook over.
We had prepared bags of beans and bags of rice to distribute to the families of this village. As word began to spread that we had food to give away, people came out of the woodwork and pressed all around us. If I’m being completely candid, the whole process made me fearful. I remember jumping up in the bed of the pick-up truck so I wouldn’t feel quite so claustrophobic. We were to give everyone one bag of each and yet people were pleading for more.
You don’t have that kind of an experience without it making an impression on a person. Some of you have had similar experiences. I know that some of you have been on trips like this. I know others have worked with feeding the homeless here in Lubbock. Those kinds of experiences change a person’s perspective.
Sadly, a brief foray into an impoverished area or another country often impacts us for only a short time. Then we resume life as usual. What we need to learn is how to daily audit our perspective so we are consistently aware of how much we really do have.
I want do something tangible to help us wrap our minds around this issue. When you came in this morning each of you should have received a bulletin. Some of you have special bulletins designed to help us understand the scale of hunger in our world. 1% of the world is rich. 6% are middle class. 33% are the working poor. 60% are poor. If we had a group of 26 people this is how it would play out:
- 1 of you has a blue dot on the top corner of your bulletin. You are the winner of a $20 gift card to Outback Steakhouse.
- 2 of you have a red dot on the top corner of your bulletin which means you are lucky as well. You are the winner of a $5 gift card which means you are one lucky person. You are the winner of a $5 gift to Dominos.
- 8 of you have a green dot on the top of your bulletin. You are lucky as well because for you we have peanut butter sandwiches. Congratulations.
- 15 of you have a yellow dot and for you this morning we have a single bowl of
Some 805 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth.
This breakdown is reflective of the world we live in today. Think about these numbers as we consider that Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
In Jesus’s time it was very common for people to live day to day. Countless workers would wait in the markets and other key places of the city or village in hopes someone would come by to hire them for one day. At the end of that day they would receive their day’s pay.
If they were not hired on a particular day, no bread for the day. All those who listened to Jesus tell the Parable of the Vineyard Workers, recorded in Matthew 20:1-16, knew exactly what he was talking about.
Interestingly, there are still places in the world today populated by day laborers. These are people who could easily pray, “Give us today our daily bread,” and be asking for enough income to feed their families for the next twenty-four hours. We get that as portrayed in our demonstration.
With all of this in mind, we have to ask ourselves what does this mean for us? As those who are extremely blessed, I think all of this raises the question of contentment.
Contentment, in many circles is the equivalent to being lazy, unmotivated, and even unpatriotic. In a culture where upgrading your computer, car, and clothing are considered normal and desirable behavior, contentment is the enemy. Most of us are predisposed to want more and more. Then, when we get what we were dreaming about, we often want even more.
Into our pathologically greedy world, Jesus teaches, “Pray for what you need, for your daily bread.” Such an idea begins to make sense only when we seek to live with contentment. This is the discipline of simplicity, the process of learning to say one powerful word, “Enough.”
The Apostle Paul echoed this thinking in 1 Timothy 6:6-10, “6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
Contentment was a radical concept in Jesus’ day and it will be in any day. But we live in a time when the accumulation of stuff has taken on monster-like proportions. The mammon that Jesus warned about is so prevalent in most modern societies that we have a hard time even noticing that we have become materialistic.
- When someone today says, “I’m quite happy with my home; I don’t need a larger one,” some people will see this as a bad thing.
- If a couple decides to downgrade and simplify their life by selling off some of their assets and moving into a smaller, more modest house, friends and family might worry that something is very wrong.
- If a child tells her parents, “I don’t want all the new, expensive designer clothes. I prefer some basic clothes that will wear well for a long time,” it might just make her parents check to make sure she isn’t running a fever.
Contentment is not the norm. But the Bible says it should be. There is great freedom and peace when we learn to be content with our daily bread. As we learn to enjoy what we have and not always strive for more, contentment grows in our hearts. As that happens, our daily bread starts to look like what is really needed, it even tastes better.
I know that when our girls were little, Joni and I always worked on instilling certain habits in them. We would say things to them such as, “What do you say?” We were always looking for two specific words, “Thank You!” On top of that, when they would say it, we wanted them to mean it. But for the time being, just hearing it felt like a victory.
God has given his children daily bread and, in many cases, so much more. When we learn to say “Thank you,” He is delighted. One of the ways we can honor God is by praying for our daily bread and actually thanking God when we get it.
Think about the parent who has asked their child, “What do you say?” countless times over the years. Then, one day, their daughter just says it. “Thank you!” She wasn’t coaxed or prodded, and dad or mom can tell by the look in her eyes that she really means it. What a day that is for a parent! In the same way, God waits for his children to come to a place of authentic and natural thanks.
For when we are thankful many things happen:
- Our Hearts Change
We begin to notice all we have and how good God has been. We are no longer fixated on what we don’t have, what we want, or our latest obsession. Instead, we get wrapped up in the joy of thankfulness.
- Our Relationship with God Grows
Our thankfulness brings joy to God’s heart. As we express it, our prayer life expands. As thankfulness flows consistently and freely from our lips God is exalted.
- Other Followers of Jesus Are Inspired
Too many people who name Jesus as Savior are still wrapped up in the mindless pursuit of more. When others see a thankful spirit in us and hear our acknowledgement that the bread we have today is from God and it is enough, they can be encouraged to be more thankful.
- A Watching World Is Amazed
When we become thankful, truly thankful, this becomes a testimony to the world. Of all people, Christians should be thankful. When we express that thankfulness honestly and enthusiastically, a world that is hungering and searching for something that satisfies will sit up and take notice.
Jesus did not teach us to pray, “Give me today my daily bread.” He said to pray for our daily bread. He wants us to be concerned not only about what I need, but what we need.
If we see with the eyes of God, feel with His heart, and serve with His hands, we will also care about those who have no daily bread. We will actually be willing to joyfully share the bread we have with those who have none.
All through the Bible we read of God’s heartfelt concern for those in dire need, verses such as:
Exodus 22:22-23 – “You must not exploit a widow or an orphan. 23 If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry.”
Psalm 82:3 – “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.”
Luke 4:18-19 – “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
Deuteronomy 10:17-19 – “17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. 18 He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. 19 So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
If God’s heart beats for the needy, and he calls us to enter into his ministry to the world, how can we not make a commitment to share our daily bread?