“‘Give us today our daily bread.’” – Matthew 6:11
The Lord’s Prayer – Fourth Petition
Bread is eaten by people all over the world. Because it is a mainstay of many people’s diet, it is often called the staff of life. However, we need many more things than just bread to completely supply our lives. Thus Martin Luther writes in his Large Catechism regarding this petition of the Lord’s Prayer:
When you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread and, on the other hand, against everything which interferes with it…To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the world, because on that account alone do we need daily bread.
Scripture teaches that God supplies every physical necessity for all people. But God doesn’t just wait to be asked before he supplies our physical needs. Jesus remarked, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). Therefore, this petition of the Lord’s Prayer is not so much a “give me” prayer, as though God were waiting for us to pray before he grants physical blessings to us. This petition is more a “thank you” prayer. Jesus wants us to realize that all of our physical blessings come from our heavenly Father and that we should receive them with thanksgiving.
Jesus emphasizes that we are to pray for “daily” bread for “today”. We shouldn’t worry about tomorrow. God, who knows our needs and provides for us today, also knows our future and is able to meet those needs as they come. Our heavenly Father constantly cares for us by his almighty power because of his love for us. Instead of worrying about what we need for our physical lives, the Savior tells us to be concerned about the requirements for our souls. He says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Often we become so concerned about our material needs that we let them take priority over our spiritual needs. Our efforts and energy center on what we have to do to get what we need and want for our bodies, when little do we realize how much our souls are improperly supplied. Jesus is telling us, “Let go of the concern for your physical life and supply the critical need of feeding your soul with God’s Word. While my Word supplies bounty for your soul, I will see to it that all the needs of your body are also given to you.”
With this petition Jesus teaches us to pray for greater confidence in our loving, heavenly Father that he will provide physical blessings for our lives one day at a time. We are moved to thank and praise God for his abundant favor toward us in the way that he “gives us today our daily bread.”