Give us this day our daily bread - Jesus taught us to ask for the bare, essential minimum, (just what you need to survive today, food) of the lowest cost variety, (bread).
Luke 11:1-4 (also Matthew 6:9-13)
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
2 He said to them, "When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.'"
This occurred to me in a different light the other day. And after a while I considered that the Lord was teaching me something I had not seen previously. Although the Scriptures have a lot more to say about prayer and God's provision of our needs, it seems good to focus in on just this one statement for the moment, to see what Jesus was saying in just these words.
Give us each day our daily bread.
That is the one line in the Lord's Prayer that deals with our physical needs. Let's put this in general terms.
Give us each day the bare necessity of what we need to survive, food...
food of the cheapest kind, bread.
Just give us a day's worth.
Its interesting that Jesus did not teach us to pray, "Give us our month's supply of groceries, fast food, some steaks, BBQ, gas money, utility bills, house payment, car payment, work clothes, school tuition, fun money and a few nice extras." He did not even pair it down to the very basic, "Give us what we need to make it month to month" or "paycheck to paycheck." He simply taught,
Give us each day our daily bread.
We sometimes imagine that in prison all they eat is "bread and water." Bread and water, the very barest of provision to keep physical life going. No chicken, no steak, no hamburgers, no fresh fruit, no ice cream, not even beans... just bread and water. It would be adding extra to Jesus' instruction to pray,
Give us each day our daily bread and water.
Only one chapter farther does Jesus add a little more on the subject,
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Notice that, again, Jesus is talking about the very basics for survival: food, drink & clothing. And He is teaching not to worry about such things, that pagans run after that. Jesus promises that if we seek first God's Kingdom and His righteousness, the basics of food, drink & clothing will be provided for us. It is interesting that Jesus does not say anything about the other things we worry about, things we are convinced we need... things like: a safe place to sleep, a home, a family, friends, job, education, maybe some time off work, a little free time and recreation. Nope, Jesus is only talking here about food, drink & clothing.
1 Timothy 6:8-9
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Can we be content if we have just have food and clothing?
If we can learn to be content with just food and clothing, if we can learn to be satisfied with "our daily bread" (bread!), if we can be okay with expecting "daily bread" from life, then we should be overjoyed with thanksgiving when we look around and see that God has generously provided us exceedingly more than that. He has surrounded us, (even in this time of "economic crisis"), with blessings of computers, years worth of clothes, weeks worth of food of various kinds, fresh fruit in dead of Winter, ice cream in the middle of Summer, cars, big houses, fun money, fancy church buildings, heating and air conditioning, stereos, iPods, etc, etc. til its coming out our noses... more than what we know to do with.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Its good for us in times like this to pause and count our blessings again, "name them one-by-one" as the song goes, to just give thanks.
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Don't let the present economy get you down. Just let go of greedy expectations and train yourself to "be content with food and clothing." Then you will be happy with the abundantly more than that you probably have. One of the biggest problems I observe that we have in life is that we tend to expect more from life that its willing to provide. And then we get frustrated. And then we resort to means that God does not approve. Let's give up the unreasonable expectations. Let's ask for and be content with the very basics, "our daily bread," and give thanks for the abundantly more that God has already surrounded us with.