We pray best when we exhibit a day-by-day dependence on God for the most basic, elemental human needs.
Posted in , Jan 8, 2016
When Jesus taught His first followers to pray, He gave them a framework of fewer than five dozen words.
He started with three requests that draw the person praying into the mission and priorities of Jesus Himself: “May Your name be kept holy, may Your kingdom come and may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Or, put another way, “Glorify Your name, spread Your kingdom, accomplish Your will.”
But His next words took a surprising turn. From the sublime to the mundane, you might say. He said to pray “give us today our daily bread.”
Really, Jesus? Bread? After instructing us to pray about the holiness of God’s name, the coming of His reign and the accomplishment of His sovereign will…”give us today our daily bread”?
“Yes,” He would say. In a word, “bread.”
Those few words make it clear that praying for the most basic, practical, ordinary needs of daily life is perfectly consistent with praying also for such high and lofty things as God’s reputation, kingdom and will. In other words, when you pray, Jesus says, pray for your mundane, daily needs.
We pray most fervently about desperate needs. A diagnosis. A layoff. A crisis. And our loving Lord wants us to pray at such times. But He also tells us to pray for daily needs. He urged on His followers a day-by-day dependence on God for the most basic, elemental human needs. It wasn’t figurative. It wasn’t symbolic of “what we’re going to need today” as we generally understand it when we pray. It was literally a prayer for bread. And literally a prayer for today.
I think it still is.
I think we pray best when we exhibit a day-by-day dependence on God for the most basic, elemental human needs. Jesus didn’t say to pray “give us this day our daily bread” only when we are in need. He said, “When you pray, say…give us this day our daily bread.”
It is a prayer for all seasons, and a prayer even for people who have three different kinds of bread in their cupboard. It is a daily prayer because it is a prayer of dependence.
Do you pray for the mundane? Do you ask for the most basic, elemental things? If not, why not?
Praying “give us this day our daily bread” reminds us that all good things come from God. It reminds us to be grateful. It places us in a posture of submission and sensitivity. It is a prayer that can quickly transform our prayers:
“Give us this day our daily breath.”
“Give us this day our daily break.”
“Give us this day our daily coffee.”
“Give us this day our daily discovery.”
“Give us this day our daily strength.”
“Give us this day our daily fun.”
“Give us this day our daily work.”
“Give us this day our daily health.”
“Give us this day our daily oxygen.”
“Give us this day our daily creativity.”
“Give us this day our daily hope.”
You get the idea. Each prayer is a reminder that, as the children of Israel had to depend on God for a daily delivery of manna to their doorstep, so praying “give us this day our daily bread” teaches me to pray for the things I need—even those things I would otherwise take for granted. Maybe especially those things I take for granted.
Adapted from The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler (Barbour Books 2015)