Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“Give us this day our daily bread”
Scripture tells us in Romans that the Heavenly Father “did not spare His only Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32). Jesus died for all people. He died for all, because the Father’s desire is that all be saved. The passage continues: “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” When we think of the blessings that the Father gives us in Christ, our thoughts appropriately turn first of all to the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of eternal life that comes to all who believe in the Lord Jesus. But shall we not also think of the privilege that is ours in Christ to be called the children of God? If the Triune God did nothing else for us, we would have reason to speak thanks without end.
But there is more in the “all things” of Romans 8; we include even those things which for the sake of Jesus the Father is pleased to give us for our physical welfare. So the Christian is not bashful to approach the Father in prayer and say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We know–as Martin Luther says–that “God gives daily bread even without our prayer, even to all the wicked.” The truth is that if God gave us what we need only when we ask, we would have precious little. Too often we forget to ask, and even more do we forget to give thanks! Our Lord provides the rain that waters the earth, and the sun that gives warmth to the earth–essentials to producing food. All people profit, and even the animals of the field and the birds of the air profit. How richly the Lord provides.
Recently we were told that one reason for the difficult economic situation on farms is that prices are too low. And why? Because farmers are producing too much. We will not speak to the economics; we surely will not blame God or the farmer for the economic condition. The point we make is that even in flood or drought the Lord gives the farmer the knowledge and He provides the necessities to produce food. We know of a farm family in the same condition as all other farmers, but whose confidence on one hand and trust on the other was maddening to the neighbors. This family in Minnesota just believed that there was no reason to worry themselves into a frenzy–whatever the circumstances–because they believed that God would provide in the amount He wills. And that is the way it works!
In the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer we approach the Lord for physical needs–for everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body. But life here includes many needs if we are to enjoy the blessings of the earth. So we pray for “house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline (education), honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.” Luther said: “Although we receive from God all good things in abundance, yet we are unable to retain any of them to enjoy them in safety and happiness unless He gives us stable and peaceful government. For where dissension, strife and war prevail, there our daily bread is wholly lacking or constantly reduced” (Large Catechism, 1935, APH, p. 147).
It is not greedy to pray for things for this life while we await deliverance to the better life in heaven. It is appropriate to pray and then to leave it to the will of God as to how much and what He is inclined to give us. Surely this prayer is also a prayer that is directed against the devil who inspires greed. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Each day we pray that the Lord will give us what we need for that day. Where that is the attitude of prayer, we find nevertheless that the Lord so often provides more than we need.
For all of which we want to give thanks. Generally we are not bashful to ask, but we are less mindful to give thanks. We know that we can never repay the Lord for all that He has given us for body and soul. But a word of thanks is pleasing to the Heavenly Father. In keeping with a word of thanks is an expression of thanks in action. One way that the Lord provides for us is through each other. In sharing with others who are in need of the abundance of things which the Lord has given to us, we are putting thanks into action, as well as expressing confidence and trust in the Lord to answer our prayer as we pray again, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
May the Lord give us thankful, trusting hearts.
–Pastor Daniel Fleischer
THE FOURTH PETITION Give us this day our daily bread. What does this mean? God gives daily bread indeed without our prayer, also to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. What is meant by daily bread? Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like. --DR. MARTIN LUTHER'S Small Catechism (Concordia Publ. House, 1943) The Fourth Petition "Give us this day our daily bread." What does this mean? God gives daily bread without our asking, even to unbelievers, but we pray in this petition that He would teach us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. What is meant by daily bread? "Daily bread" means everything we need for our bodily well-being. It includes food, drink, clothes, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money and goods, a godly husband or wife, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace, health, education, honor, faithful friends, trustworthy neighbors--and things like that. --MARTIN LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM (Sydow edition, 1988)