“Give us each day our daily bread.”
“Lend me three loaves of bread.”
“If your son asks for bread…”
In Luke 11, Jesus gives his disciples a model prayer, a short story about prayer, and some comments that tie the prayer and the story to us. And we don’t have to read too hard to hear that Jesus is talking about our most basic, most fundamental needs. He’s talking about bread. Daily bread. What I need every single day to survive. Bread. Like our ancestors in the desert, if God doesn’t give us the bread today, we are going to die. And we have no choice but to go to bed tonight depending on God to provide that same bread tomorrow.
This attitude of complete dependence on God for everything calls for us to acknowledge that we are poor. We are needy. We are totally dependent on the Father for every breath we take and every bite we eat. Every molecule of air and every drop of water is a gracious gift of our God’s provision.
Look closely at the prayer Jesus gives us. He tells us to pray for our daily food, for forgiveness from sin, and for protection from evil. WE don’t make any of that happen. Only our God in his mercy grants us these gifts. There is no moment of any day, no minute of any hour, that we are not depending on God.
But we don’t act like it.
It’s hard to pray for food when my belly is full, my fridge is packed, my pantry is stuffed, the supermarket is open 24-hours, and I get paid this Friday. I need God for lots of things, but I don’t need him for food. I’ve got that covered.
It’s hard to pray for forgiveness when I’m so much better than most of the people at work or on my street. I’m no saint, but I haven’t killed anybody. Besides, I’m usually the one being wronged! I need God for lots of things, but I don’t need him for forgiveness. I’m pretty good.
It’s hard to pray for protection from evil when I feel so safe. I would never cheat on my taxes or my wife, I would never steal from my boss or sell drugs. I’m not in danger. Of course, I don’t have a complete handle on my greed or lust or anger, but I can deal with it OK. I need God for lots of things, but not protection from evil. I’m not going to slip.
We don’t pray for rain because we’ve heard the forecast: there’s not any. We don’t pray for healing because we’ve seen the MRI: I’m not sick. We don’t pray for peace because we’ve got our 401(k)s: I can live comfortably until I’m 103!
Jesus’ story says we have to realize and embrace our poverty, our neediness. When we pray from a position of wealth, all we do is ask God for what we want instead of what we need. And we use prayer to just raise our standard of living.
Father, give me each day my daily bread. God, forgive me for the unkind words I used with a sister just this morning. Lord, please lead me this very hour so that I walk with you in faithfulness. Praying this way is how we hold on to God, how we press on with God, how we wait for God. It’s how we.do.not.let.go.
But very few of us wake up in the morning as hungry for God as we are for corn flakes or eggs and sausage.