If asked what you should pray for, what would you say? The answer is everything. Prayer is a daily practice, and when we talk to God each day, we get to bring our physical and spiritual needs to him. We pray for our daily bread.
Happy Mothers day or mothers weekend, depending on when you’re watching! For those who are celebrating today with joy, we celebrate with you, and to those who struggle or feel sad or burdened by the day we surround you with love and comfort and prayers.
Months and months ago when Matt was planning sermon series he asked what things or verses we wanted to teach on, and I automatically knew I wanted to be a part of the Lords Prayer, and this specific conversation about daily bread. It just so happened that this day fell on mothers day, so the female pastor was not planted here today.
As we dive into the Lords Prayer, lets pray.
We are continuing today in our time in the Lords prayer. Matt talked about it two weeks, Scott talked about it last week, and if you have missed those I really encourage you to check them out. Honestly, and Im not being paid to say this, Matt’s message on the purpose of prayer and Scott’s dissection of the kingdom are two of the best sermons I have heard on these verses, so do check them out.
Two weeks ago when Matt began dissecting these few verses in Matthew he talked about the who, what, where of the Lords prayer. Who are we talking to, where is it located in the heaven and earth dynamic, and what. But he left the what open because today we are talking about the WHAT verses.
If I asked you what should we pray for, what would you say….can I give you the deep, theological, religious answer. The answer to what we pray for is….everything. You’re welcome. We pray for and over everything.
In moments of crises, in moments of stress, we pray. In moments of happiness and joy, we pray. When things are confusing and when our control meets it end, we pray. When that big test is coming up or when the guy we want to ask out is in front of us, we pray. When we are celebrating weddings or a new life, we pray. The what question is answered by everything.
Today we are going to look more deeply into the what, and specifically this single verse found in Mathew 6 that reveals God’s heart for our whats, and also reveals Gods response to our what.
The overarching theme or the big idea is that prayer is a daily thing, and when we talk to God each and every day we get to bring our physical and spiritual needs to God. We get to pray for our daily bread.
We read in Matthew that as Jesus is teaching, he takes a moment to teach about prayer. Jesus in Matthew 6 says this
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Jesus’ conversation around prayer begins with these three ‘your’ clauses- your hallowed name, your kingdom come, your will be done, locating God’s work and God’s glory both in heaven and here on earth, the who and the where. The prayer and our prayer life begins and seeks God and God’s kingdom first, followed by a recognition and prayer for of needs. The three clauses for God’s glory are followed by three petitions or requests, give us today our daily bread, forgive us, and lead us away from temptation, directly linking prayer to our conversation of needs, the who and where followed by the what.
How cool is that? Even in the structure of Jesus’ teachings, even in the beginning stages of conversation, Jesus aligns our worship life with a recognition that we also need to bring our heart, our needs, what fills our brains and keeps us up at night, all of that should be brought to God.
The first of these, our daily bread, brings up some natural questions. What does daily bread mean? And what does that look like for our individual and community prayer life?
Well lets start with the first question, what is meant by daily bread? Scholars debate what this understanding of ‘daily bread’ actually means. Some and most common propose it means something like ‘daily rations’ or ‘bread for today or tomorrow.’ Daily bread means something physical, rations or physical needs. But we can extend this definition too, because while praying for our daily bread is praying for the physical we also see Jesus extend this into the spiritual. Daily bread representing physical and spiritual needs. And what we see Jesus say in this one small verse is a pattern strewn throughout the Bible, giving insight into the what of daily bread. We are going to spend some time looking at both the physical and spiritual what, seeing what it looks like to pray for it and how God responds.
Point 1: Daily bread is physical
When we first hear daily bread most of our minds go to the physical reality of the daily bread. We see a cool pattern throughout the Bible that comes alive in this verse- a pattern of God supplying daily bread in a physical, tangible form. This pattern in the Bible finds daily bread that overflows, but it also finds daily bread that barely seems to be sufficient. In both ways, God supplies the daily.
Point 1A: Physical bread can overflow
The most obvious story that shows us this pattern of God’s work, is the way that God provided for the Israelites as they wandered in the desert.
Exodus 16 starts like this..
16 The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.
The story of God providing bread starts with movement- the Israelites are traveling closer to a place promised for them. The journey with and movement towards God wasn’t enough, so like a kid on a road trip the Israelites complained.
2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
The Israelite’s had been delivered from Egypt, they had been given this promise of a permanent place, and yet their journey to get there was tough. It was a tough journey and it was a long journey, and so in the midst of the daily repetition, of the hardship, they turned against God rather than turning towards God. And so, here in Exodus, they complained. They complained about their hunger, about their lack of daily.
And the cool thing in this story is that God hears their complaints- in fact throughout chapter 16 we read that God hears five times. Praise God for being a God who hears in our complaints. God hears the complaints, and God moves from hearing to responding. How great is it to have a God who responds.
God speaks- Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.
God gives this proclamation that God will supply the daily bread for the Israelites, and that bread will fall like rain for the people each and every day, its a gluten lovers dream.
God hears, God speaks, and then in the rest of chapter 16 God acts.
13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground.
Later in the chapter we read that -31 The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
For forty years the Israelites ate manna until they reached what Exodus calls a habitable land.
God provided, physically provided. And God didn’t just give them a few pieces no we read in this chapter that God provided so much that he actually told them to only collect what they needed. God flooded the lives of the Israelite’s with an overwhelming abundance of sweet, tasty bread. This physical overflowing reminds the Israelite’s daily of God’s preservation of their community, it reminds them daily of their rescue, a reminder of the way that God provided for them in and out of Egypt. And when the people reached a place and location in which the bread wasn’t needed, they filled their temple and their religious ceremonies with the Bread of Presence, a reminder during acts of worship of the way in which God provided them with real, physical, tangible daily bread.
I am overwhelmed by this story, by the way in which God provided so greatly for the Israelite’s. In the complaint of having nothing, God supplied an abundance.
Some of us may relate to this story in our lives; God probably hasn’t rained down food onto your lawn in a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs kinda way, but perhaps God has in seasons of your life delivered and overflowed your times with incredible blessings, an overwhelming amount of something that satiates and satisfies your physical needs. The what becomes less of a prayer for physical needs, and rather a grateful acknowledgment of the daily bread and a prayer for ways to respond to God’s abundance.
Point 1B: Physical bread can be just enough
Some of us have been through seasons, or may be in a current season, in which our physical needs are not being met. The stress of daily needs, daily requirements, piles up high causing us to pray and then potentially question where God is and what God is doing. We often talk about daily bread when God pours out manna, but there’s also times in the Bible of God meeting daily bread needs even when this seem to barely scrape the surface of the need.
As I was reflecting on the way that God provides even when that provision feels small, just enough, I was reflecting on my favorite book of the Bible, the book of Ruth. Ruth is not only in Jesus’ lineage, a good mothers day choice, but in her story is this story of God providing just enough, daily bread that is sufficient.
Ruth’s story is a story of journey, it is also interestingly a story that is present in the Bible despite no mentions of God and no real mention of prayer or complaints. Through the chapters of Ruth we see God guide and direct Ruth, presence and deliverance that comes in small doses. In Ruth chapter 2 we read about one of these small movements of God’s provision.
2. Now Naomi had a kinsman on her husband’s side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain, behind someone in whose sight I may find favor.” So she went. She came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers.
Ruth went and followed behind the gleaning, picking up the bits that had fallen but not been picked. Unlike the Israelites, who had an abundance of food falling from the sky, Ruth picked up her daily bread one seed at a time. In fact later in this chapter when Boaz is speaking to his men, the men tell how Ruth…
7. she has been on her feet from early this morning until now, without resting even for a moment
Boaz, seeing her actions, tells her,
8. Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women.9 Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.”
Boaz in this moment opens up the fields and giving her the access to glean.
Ruth’s story in these short verses is a story in which her daily bread, her daily physical needs, were met. Grain by grain, she gleaned and harvested enough for her and Naomi. In the midst of that grain by grain process she interacted with Boaz, who would later become her partner and together they would produce a son who would be a part of the lineage of Jesus.
While God was obviously a little less overt than he was with the Israelite’s, we still see God’s movement in the story of Ruth. God bringing Ruth and Naomi to a land where they had family ties, the fields being open to those needing to glean, Ruth interacting with Boaz, all moments where the hand of God is evident. Ruth while a different situation and circumstance, still has this hinting of God being near and present in the cultivation of daily bread.
I don’t know about you, but I have had so many season like this. Seasons when I have prayed, earnestly, for manna but God is God’s wisdom has opened small pockets of gleaning. So just a little encouragement for you if you are there, I truly believe God is hearing and acting for your what, God is somehow in the midst of your search for daily bread.
Daily bread can be overflowing, but it can also be just enough.
God is a God who supplies our daily, physical bread. Jesus in placing the prayer for daily bread as a central part of this passage helps us to understand and see how we can actively engage each and every day in asking for our physical needs, our what, knowing that in some way God hears and provides just as God heard and provided for the Israelites and for Ruth.
When things overflow we get to pray for ways to not see the bread as our own doing, to not store up and hoard more than what is needed for that day, but instead surrender the abundance for God’s plan. And when the bread is small, when we go from overflowing manna to daily gleaning, our prayer shifts, praying that and trusting that even in the scarcity that God is hearing and acting for our daily bread.
This is this reality, a pattern, of God supplying for our physical needs, but their is a piece to praying for our daily bread that is also important. Daily bread is physical, but their also is a piece of daily bread that is spiritual, Jesus placing it in this prayer to move us to reflect on the spiritual aspect of the daily bread.
Point 2: Bread can be spiritual
Just as there are patterns for the physical, so do we see this pattern for the metaphorical. Jesus often talked about how he was the bread, and the bread of life.
We see this in John 6, what I have now called the bread chapter.
John 6 starts like this
6 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”
Imagine it… Jesus and his disciples are traveling over water and over land. As they travel a group of people join in, seeing and hearing all that Jesus is doing. They as a community find themselves on a hill, overlooking a sea. As the grass sways and bends under the breeze, as the light reflects and gleams off of the water ,the disciples look out over the crowd knowing that this crows is gathering on a holy special season, the season of Passover. A season we just celebrated a few weeks ago. This season of deliverance, of protection, of holiness. Jesus surveys the crowd and looks to find….bread.
Well we know the story, they don’t buy bread but rather in a moment of miracle Jesus takes a meal from a boy and multiples it. Jesus feeds them, and feeds them in abundance.
And Jesus isn’t done yet.
Jesus begins teaching once again
27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
And because people sometimes need something repeated twice Jesus tells them again a few verses later
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Lets read that over again, and really think about it…
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever
Jesus took this very physical, intimate relationship between God and God’s people that we see in the Old Testament and then Jesus not only continues it, feeding his people and his disciples, but Jesus also extends it. Jesus demonstrates and says that yes he can and will supply for your physical day to day but he will also supply for your spiritual. It is in this daily communion with God, with Jesus, in our prayer and worship filled life that we are filled. It is in spending time with God, with Gods word, and with God in prayer that our hunger is satiated. Jesus, the bread of life, meeting our daily spiritual needs.
This prayer that Jesus teaches us is a prayer that hopefully prompts us to bring our deep and important physical needs to God. But this prayer should also prompt us to daily include what are hearts and souls long for as we journey with Christ. Healing from shame or guilt, joy that replaces stress or anxiety, wholeness in the parts of us that are broken, daily bread.
Matthew 6 is more than a structure or a rule book, its an invitation for us to each and every day engage with our Lord, asking God for our physical and spiritual needs, knowing that God responds as we complain (or pray, I wont say you guys complain, but I do), as we bring our what to God.
Who knew one verse could hold so much….
As some of you know I work predominantly with kids and students, and when I taught in students I would often give them a challenge at the end of the time. So im going to give one to you too….this week whenever you eat something that has carbs in it (bread, rice, noodles, cereal), anything bread-y, I want you to take a second and do a check in with God. Your challenge, my challenge, is to actually pray for our daily bread. So when you’re eating your bread check in, see what your physical or spiritual needs are in that moment, and pray about it. Let’s as a community see how God interacts in our lives as we seriously and actively engage in the prayer for our daily bread.
If you need more specific prayer, or if God prompted something in your heart, the prayer team or the staff or myself will be out in the courtyard and we would love to chat and pray with you. As we wrap things up, lets pray
Blue Oaks Church