Please open your Bible at Matthew 6 and verse 11. We are looking today at the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). We have seen that there are six petitions in the Lord’s Prayer; three are concerned with God and His glory, and three are concerned with us and our needs.
The Lord’s Prayer is like a template for our prayers. These six petitions are like pegs on which you can hang your prayers. Under “hallowed be Your name” (6:9), we pray for the church: that all who bear the Lord’s name will live and act in a way that honors Him. Under “Your kingdom come” (v.10), we pray for all who are not yet in the kingdom, who resist Christ’s rule, and whom we long to see come to living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Under “Your will be done” (v.10), we ask for strength to bear the burdens God has called us to carry and for grace to obey His commands. You can use the six petitions as a framework for your prayers, and when you face an issue in which you need to make a decision, pray about it from these angles: How does this impact the honor of God’s name? How would this advance Christ’s kingdom? How is this an expression of doing God’s will?
Jesus teaches us to begin with God and His glory, and then in the light of that to come to ourselves and our needs. What are our needs? We need to be sustained –– fed and clothed. We need to be forgiven because our sins are many. Then we need to be strengthened against the temptations that lurk within us and delivered from the evil that is all around us.
So today, we come to the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” There are four things this prayer will do for us. It will help us acknowledge our dependence, grow our gratitude, deepen our compassion and affirm God’s faithfulness. So first, this prayer will…
1. Acknowledge Our Dependence
Give us this day our daily bread – Matthew 6:11
When we ask God to give us our daily bread we are confessing our dependence on Him. By nature we want to declare independence. But when we come to know God as our Father, we gladly affirm that every gift we enjoy comes from His hand (James 1:17). This prayer acknowledges that there are no self-made men or women. “What do you have that you did not receive” (1 Corinthians 4:7)?
When we ask God to give us our daily bread, we recognize that God does not owe us. As we will see next week, when we look at “forgive us our debts” (6:12), there is an unpaid debt that all of us owe to God. But none of us can ever say to God, ‘You owe me.’ God owes us nothing. All that we have is given freely from His loving and gracious hand.
I guess that the sense of our daily dependence on God was felt more deeply by people in earlier centuries than it often is today. We have become used to brilliantly managed processes that bring what we need from the farm to the fork. But one thing we are learning from this coronavirus is that things we assume will always be there can suddenly disappear. We depend on God more than we often think, and Jesus teaches us to ask that the Father will give us the bread we need today.
God’s people looked back to the time when God brought them out of slavery in Egypt. God parted the Red Sea, and brought them safely to the other side. But then, God’s people faced a long trek through the desert to reach the Promised Land. How would they survive? What would they eat in the wilderness? God gave them ‘manna’ from heaven. The Lord said to Moses,
Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day. – Exodus 16:4
The manna looked like a kind of gum or resin. The people ground it, boiled it and made cakes with it.
The taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it. – Numbers 11:8-9
The manna was a miraculous gift from heaven. God provided it. When Jesus tells us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” He is reminding us that we depend on God for our food as much as God’s people did in the desert. I wonder if you really believe that? If you have a job, if you own a home, if you are in good health, if you have a larder stocked with enough food for at least a week, if you are a wise steward of money and have a healthy 401k, why would you need to pray, “give us this day our daily bread?” You need to pray this prayer because all that you have can easily be lost.
Remember the story of Job. He was a good man, and God prospered him. He had a large family, and substantial assets in sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys. Here was a man who had all you could ever want or imagine, and yet it was all lost in a single day. Enemies attacked Job’ servants. Lightning struck his sheep. Thieves stole his camels, and then the house in which Job’s children were gathered collapsed under the force of a great wind. When disaster struck, Job said, “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). A godly person knows that all he or she has is a gift from the hand of God, and we only have it for as long as God wants us to keep it.
In the book of Ruth we read the story of a couple who had two sons. They were a family of some means, and when a time of famine came, they were able to move to another country. But while they were there, the man died. Then, some years later, both of the sons died, and the woman, whose name was Naomi, was left. When she came back home, she said, “I went away full and the Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:21). We depend on God not only to provide what we have, but to keep what we have.
Our Lord told a story about a rich man who lost everything. God blessed this man with such a great harvest that he could not store all of his grain (Luke 12:13-21). So he expanded his operation. He pulled down his barns and built bigger ones. When it was done, he had enough laid up for many years. He could eat drink and be merry. But God said, “You fool. This night your soul will be required of you.” We depend on God to provide what we have, to keep what we have and to sustain our life to enjoy what we have. At every point we are completely and utterly dependent on the Lord.
Surely one thing God is teaching us through this crisis is that our lives are much less certain than we like to think. We depend on God daily. The Scriptures remind us that we depend on God at every stage of the process by which our food comes to us. We depend on God when our food is in the field, in the barn, on the plate and in our stomach.
In the field
I will take back my grain – Hosea 2:9
When the grain is in the field it is at risk of being destroyed by wind, rain, drought or disease. God can take it back before it ever gets to us.
In the barn
Threshing floor… shall not feed them – Hosea 9:2
When the grain is in the barn it can easily be destroyed by fire. One blaze and the whole harvest is gone.
On the plate
They loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death – Psalm 107:18
What use is food on your plate if you do not have an appetite to eat it?
In your stomach
his food is turned in his stomach; it is the venom of cobras within him – Job 20:14
Even when the food is in your stomach, it will be of no use to you if it makes you sick. From the growing of our food to the nourishing of our bodies, we depend on God to supply all of our needs. Thomas Boston says, “the universe and all the creatures in it are upheld by Him, [God] as a ball in the air; which would presently fall down, if He should withdraw His supporting hand.”
If God should withdraw His hand… our food would all vanish, the beasts disappear…
and the sun would go out like a candle. – Thomas Boston
Your food and all that goes into it being yours is as much as gift from God as the manna in the wilderness. So give thanks to the Lord. Many Christian recognize this by saying grace at meals. I find that a good tradition. It reminds me three times a day that God is providing for me. This prayer will acknowledge our dependence on God.
2. Grow Our Gratitude
Give us this day our daily bread – Matthew 6:11
Bread is used in the Bible as a general term for the basic necessities of life. “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). That means simply, you will have to work for your living. So bread includes food, health, appetite, shelter and clothing. It also includes our work, our safety, the stability of our country and of its economy. All of these are gifts that come from the hand of our Father in heaven. In this prayer for daily bread, we are asking God to give us all that we need to sustain a life that is committed to honoring His name, advancing His kingdom and doing His will.
Notice that we ask for bread, not filet mignon. The prayer here is that God will give us all that we need, not all that we want! Number 11 tells the story of how God’s people complained about the food God provided. God gave them manna, but the people were not satisfied with what God had given. They wanted more.
Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!” – Numbers 11:4
Notice there was a ‘rabble’ among God’s people. A group who were never satisfied. They had a “strong craving.” Instead of being thankful for what they did have, they got angry and frustrated because of what they didn’t have. The great difference between the rabble and the redeemed is that the rabble blame God for everything and thank Him for nothing, but the redeemed thank God for everything and blame Him for nothing.
The rabble stirred up others, and their complaints spread throughout the camp. The people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!” God gave them bread, but they wanted meat.
Then they said,
Now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at. – Numbers 11:6
God gave them manna. It was the gift of God to sustain them. But they despised what God had given. ‘Not good enough! We want more!’ Now I want you to notice what comes next because it is really important for us today.
Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly. – Numbers 11:10
Here are God’s people. God is providing what they need in the desert. But they want more, and their constant complaining provokes the anger of God. I want to pause here for a moment, because it seems to me that to become angry, frustrated and dissatisfied may be the greatest temptation that we face at this time. And here’s what I want to say to you: Don’t despise the manna. The manna may not be all that we want, but the manna is a gift from God. And when God’s people despised the manna, the anger of the Lord blazed hotly against them.
When you are tired of working from home, thank God that He has given you a home and work you can do there. When you are tired of not seeing family, thank God that you have a family. When you are tired of us not meeting together, thank God that we are able to worship like this, and that the Word of God is bearing fruit in people’s lives. Don’t despise the manna, because when God’s people despised what God gave them, the Lord’s anger blazed hotly against them.
So what happened when their complaining provoked God’s anger? Let me tell you the rest of the story: God gave these dissatisfied people what they asked for (Psalm 106:17). He gave them the meat that they craved (Psalm 78:29).
Then a wind from the LORD sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. – Numbers 11:31
Two cubits is about 3 feet. So these birds were flying about waist high, the perfect catching height, and you could see them for miles on either side of the camp. So the people went out and bagged the birds, as many as they could carry. You may say, ‘How was that an expression of the Lord’s anger?’ “God gave them what they wanted!” But here’s the thing
While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague. – Numbers 11:33
“Before it was consumed,” probably means, before all of it was consumed. In which case, the meat God’s people craved was what made them sick. The meat brought a very great plague. This seems to me like something ripped out of today’s headlines. Some kind of disease, a virus, a plague, spread in the camp, and it seems to have come from a flock of birds. There was meat in the desert with no refrigeration. There was a reason why God gave them manna, bread and not meat, and if they had been grateful for what God provided, rather than complaining about what He withheld, they would have been saved from a great disaster.
Never despise what God has given. Be thankful every day for what He has provided, especially when it is less that you would want. This story is a solemn warning about the dangers of becoming dissatisfied with what God has given. This has helped me this week, and I hope it is helpful to you. We all know what it is to be frustrated; we all know what it is to want more, and the answer to that craving is to be thankful for what God has given. Thank God for the manna. Thank Him for what you have. Thank Him for what He has given.
This prayer will change us when it gets into us. It will bring us to a place where we acknowledge our dependence on God and really feel it. It will bring us to a place where we grow in gratitude or thankfulness for what God has given, rather than complaining for what He has withheld. Now two things more briefly.
3. Deepen Our Compassion
Give us this day our daily bread – Matthew 6:11
Notice the plural. It’s not, ‘give me my daily bread’ but, ‘give us our daily bread.’ The us and the our run throughout the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Our Father in heaven. Give us our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ So here is a prayer that will help us not only acknowledge our dependence and grow in gratitude, but also deepen our compassion for others whose needs are greater than our own.
This is where we intercede for the practical needs of others. This is where we pray for a hungry world. This is where we ask God to bring to our minds the needs of others, we can help. And if God has given to you what you need for today, this prayer may prompt you to be the means by which God provides for someone else.
4. Affirm God’s Faithfulness
Give us this day our daily bread – Matthew 6:11
The word ‘daily’ reminds us that God has a track record of faithfulness. He has been providing for billions of people across every continent of the world, and He has been doing this on a daily basis for thousands of years. Someone has said, ‘When you come to God and ask for a new blessing be sure you bring Him a receipt for the previous one. Peter Lewis says this well:
We urge God to write new checks for us but rarely flick through His check stubs. If we did we would find our name attached to innumerable gifts and benefits, protections and provisions. – Peter Lewis
Brother, sister, if you could see God’s checkbook and flip through the stubs, you would see again and again, something written out to you, a blessing imparted. How could you ever count the number of blessings God has given to you through the years of your life? The track record of God’s faithfulness to you will encourage your faith in His provision, as you look at particular needs that you have at this time. This is an anxious time for all of us, and affirming God’s faithfulness is an antidote to anxiety.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. – Matthew 6:25
We ask, ‘why? Why should we not be anxious?’ Jesus says, “look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 6:26). “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (vv.28-29). “If God so clothes the grass of the field… will he not much more clothe you?” (v.30)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” …your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. – Matthew 6:31-32
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (v33). Do you see what Jesus is saying? Your heavenly Father is faithful. He feeds the birds; He clothes the flowers, and you are of more value to Him that birds or plants. Therefore, you can trust Him to provide for you. So do not be anxious. Roll your anxieties on him. He will not fail you.
These are anxious times, and the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that our God is faithful. When we ask God to provide what we need, we are not asking for something strange or unusual. This is what God does for His people. He does it daily and you can trust Him to do it for you.
Did our Lord ever pray this prayer? One day a large crowd gathered to listen to Jesus. They were in a desert place where there was no food and no money to buy food. A small boy placed five loaves and two fish in the hands of Jesus. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated (John 6:11). Jesus gave thanks to the Father for the bread He had provided, and what the Father provided was sufficient for all.
Then, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples. Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).
God gives the bread that sustains our bodies, and God has given us the bread that feeds our souls. Jesus is the bread of life. He said, “Whoever feeds on me…will live because of me” (John 6:57). Jesus will do for your soul what bread does for your body. He will sustain you. “Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” (v58). Will you join with me in praying this prayer.
Our Father, we bow before You in worship and gladly acknowledge that every good gift comes from Your loving hand. We thank You today for the beauty of the earth, for the love of friends and family, for our food, for our homes, for our work, for Your church and most of all for the gift of Your Son.
We confess our impatience, and we ask Your forgiveness. We know that patience is the fruit of Your Holy Spirit, and we ask that You will produce this good fruit in our lives. Deliver us from grumbling. May we never despise the manna. May Your anger not blaze hotly against us. Use this time when things we enjoy are taken away to increase our gratitude for what we have. Help us to rejoice in what You have given, rather than complain about what You have withheld.
Father, Your Son taught us to come and ask You for what we need. Father some of us need work, and we ask that You will provide. Some among us are sick, and we ask that Your healing hand may be upon them. Some are hungry and we cry out to You, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Father, Your world is in trouble. Please in Your mercy, give us relief from this virus we pray. We pray for those who carry the weight and burden of great responsibility. We pray for our mayors, for our governor, and for our President. Grant to those who lead us, strength to bear the burdens they carry and wisdom that will promote our common good.
We pray that you will deliver us from anxiety. Thank you that You know what we need. Help us to trust You and to seek first Your kingdom, knowing that You will give us what we need. Help us to measure Your love for us by what you have done in sending Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Thank you that He is the living bread. Thank you that this bread was broken so that His life should be in us. Help us, by faith, to feed on Him, and so nourish our souls to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
 Thomas Boston, Works, vol. 2, 604.
 Peter Lewis, The Lord’s Prayer, 135.