Give us today our daily bread.
Any idea that prayer should be filled with lofty words and heavenly thoughts is quickly dispelled with this part of the Lord's Prayer. There is no more earthly prayer than "give us today our daily bread."
To pray this is to remember that we are dependent daily on God for bread and everything else. We live in a world where we value individualism and abhor dependence. This prayer invites us to remember that we did not create ourselves, nor just come up with our own food out of dust.
A group of students were once spending a week at a Trappist monastery. At the evening meal, enjoying in silence the wonderful, delicious bread, one of the students blurted out, "Hey, did we make this bread or did somebody give it to us?" One of the monks answered, "Yes."
Bread, like life, is a daily gift from God and we are to ask for no more than enough for that day. It's as if we are praying that we can focus on this one day and let God take care of days in our future. The blessing of this is that we can take life one day at a time. When we worry about everything under the sun, our minds create imagined future trouble that will most likely never happen. But just like the Israelites in the wilderness in Exodus, God will provide daily. One day at a time.
A few days ago, when we started this part of the devotionals on the Lord's Prayer we talked about the significance of starting the prayer with "Our." Note here again in this petition we see the word "Our." "Give us our daily bread." I am not praying for only my bread. It is our bread. Bread is a communal product to be shared among all of God's people.
St. Basil the Great made explicit in a sermon that nothing that belongs to us is ours alone, particularly that which is in excess of "our daily bread." He said:
"The bread that is spoiling in your house belongs to the hungry. The shoes that are mildewing under your bed belong to those who have none. The clothes stored away in your trunk belong to those who are naked. The money that depreciates in your treasury belongs to the poor!"
Our bread is not ours to hoard. Our bread belongs to our brothers and sisters. That is also why every time we pray this petition we our praying for our many food ministries here at NorthPark. Every time we pray "our daily bread" we are praying for our Saturday bread ministry, our monthly Stewpot group, the Reverse Food Truck, the Angel Food Ministry and the completion of the SoulFood Greenhouse. We pray that these ministries take my bread and make it our bread.
O God, we confess that we have valued our independence more than our dependence on you. We have forgotten to take it one day at a time, forgetting that you control the future. We have hoarded our bread instead of sharing it with others. Help us to understand "Give us today our daily bread." Help us let go of our worries, let go of our individualism, and let go of our bread. We are grateful for all of the food ministries in our midst and pray that you will use them so that all might one day have bread. Amen.
Rev. Brent Barry, Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church