“Give[i] us this day our daily[ii] bread[iii].” (Matt. 6:12) Jesus expressly urges us to ask for the Father’s provision. It is not, therefore wrong to ask; we are instructed to ask; God expects us to ask!.
But, what is it exactly that God wants us to ask for?: God tells us, wants us, to ask for “daily bread” – the bread we need each day to meet the demands of the day. Both the verb tense used for “give” (aorist imperative) and the rarely used Greek word that is translated “daily” (epioúsa) make clear what Jesus is getting at here.
He is not telling us to ask for more than what we need. He is not instructing us to ask for provision that we can stock up for the future. He would have used a different word and a different verb tense if He is not instructing us to ask God for what we need each day when we need it (in the present).
This portion of the Lord’s Prayer should recall the provision of God to the Israelites in the Sinai desert. (Exodus 16) They were grumbling about what they would eat in the desert, and God promised them quail at night and manna in the morning so that they would be filled and “you shall know that I am your Lord.” (Ex. 16:12)
Notice, specifically, God’s instruction to them: “Let no man leave any of it [manna] until morning.” (Ex. 19) They did not listen, and those who attempted to keep the manna overnight found that it grew hot and melted (rotted). God provided for them all that needed each day, but no more, and God kept that promise for 40 years until they came to the Promised Land. (Ex. 16:35)
The “bread” we are to request is not just bread, literally (food), but God’s divine provision – all that we need to get by.
When you think it through, everything we have is from God, and nothing we have is not provided and sustained by God. We think in terms of all that we must to do provide for ourselves; and we lack generosity toward other people when we fear that we do not have enough for ourselves; but Jesus says we should daily ask God for His provision. He also tells us not to worry about tomorrow. (Matt. 6:25-34)
God sustains the universe, which balances on a razor’s edge to sustain life (see the Fine Tuning of the Universe). He can sustain and provide for us. He knows the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7); God takes care of the birds (Matt. 6:26); God can take care of you and me.
Thank you, Lord, for every good thing that you provide us, for giving us what we need when we need it. Forgive me for not trusting You and forgetting to ask You for Your provision and relying on myself instead.
[i] The verb tense for “give” is the aorist imperative, requesting action that must happen. It can refer to action that is urgent, needed immediately. It conveys the sense of action needed right now and again and again in a series of actions.
[ii] 1967/epioúsios (from 1909/epí, “upon, fitting” and 3776/ousía, “being, substance”) – properly, aptly substantive, as appropriate to what is “coming on” (happening), i.e. suitable (apt) for the coming day. [Epiousios is cognate with 1966/epioúsa, “the next day,” “the following (approaching) day,” “the coming day”.] Epiousios (“aptly substantive”) only occurs in the Lord’s Prayer. It refers to God’s provision that is needed for each day (Mt 6:11; Lk 11:3) – literally, “bread that fits (meets) the unique demands of the coming day.”
[iii] 740/ártos – literally, bread; (figuratively) divine provision; the full sustenance God supplies to yielded believers to live in His preferred-will (cf. 2307/thélēma). Christ Himself is the bread (ártos) of life, so all true provision (bread) comes by knowing Him, through faith (Jn 6:35; 1 Cor 10:17). See also 3131/mánna. Reflection: Believers have the incredible privilege of living in the yoke with Jesus, the bread of life (Mt 11:28-30)! This means every “stop” in life has been eternally mapped out to be His “bread depot” (cf. Ps 139:16), as we assimilate Christ (“eat His flesh” = His bread).
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