What Day Is It?
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
The Lord’s Prayer, or The Model Prayer, is Jesus’ gift to us. It is the answer to the disciples’ request “teach us to pray.” Typical of Jesus, He did not delve into the mysteries or problems of prayer. He simply gave us a 20 second “how to.” Interesting. I preach a 10 week series on how to pray. Jesus sums it up in 20 seconds.
The first actual request in the prayer is “give us this day our daily bread.” The word “daily” is a surprisingly obscure word in Greek (found only here and in the parallel in Luke). Outside of the NT we find only one example, in a shopping list or list of expenses. This scant evidence proves a real challenge to interpreters and translators. What does the word mean?
The word goes beyond a request for enough food to survive one day. In a broader sense, when you pray for daily bread, you are asking God to provide everything necessary for today. That includes not only the food you eat, but every need. God is faithful to provide precisely what you need for today.
This request for daily sustenance (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.) draws on the imagery of manna. Recall that God provided manna to sustain the hungry, wandering people of Israel. Every morning they could count on God’s provision. He never failed to provide.
Additionally, remember that the people could not store up enough for extra days. The manna would spoil after one day (except on the day prior to the Sabbath when they could collect enough for two days). They could only receive from God precisely what they needed for that day. In other words, they could not hedge against the future. They were forced to trust God would provide for the next day.
Now what is the application? First, when you pray this you are expressing your trust that God has already provided for you today. Nothing will surprise Him. You will not be left in a situation that has taken you beyond His providence. Whatever your need, God has already provided for you. Praying to God opens both your heart and your hands to His blessing.
Second, praying this phrase opens us up to receive God’s provision. I don’t believe God ever withholds a blessing from us, but we certainly limit our ability to receive His gift if we neglect to remain vitally and spiritually connected to Him. This means that I cannot store up for the future either. I must walk with Him in prayer, and thus trust Him for one day at a time.
The future often looms with a dreadful uncertainty. We have plenty of evidence that some tomorrows will be very hard. But a Christian never needs to dread the future. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could hold in our hands all the manna for the remainder of our days? No. We are not to trust in the manna, but in the Father who provides it. Also, God never relieves us of the need to trust Him, because we are meant to live by faith, daily.
When I feel the cold fingers of fear I try to remember this part of the prayer. Often I will remind myself of the date. It’s April 5. I have to focus on April 5, because that is the day God said He would take care of. I’ll just say the same thing tomorrow. Jesus said that’s the way we’re built, to live one day at a time.
So when I say “what day is it?” the answer is not “hump day.” Don’t think of a camel! Think of God who said He would give you what you need to face today's challenges and rejoice in today’s blessings. “Tis grace hath brought you safe thus far, and grace will lead you home.” Daily.
Dr. Terry Ellis
April 5, 2015