“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” - Matthew 6:9-13
When Jesus taught his disciples in the Lord’s prayer to ask for their daily supply of bread, he didn’t mean the kind you spread with butter and jam. Jesus keeps talking to the crowds who flock to hear him about the deeper realities at work behind our ordinary experiences. In John 6, after he feeds a gathering of thousands from a few leftover dinner rolls, he says they are in danger of confusing a miraculous lunch for the real grace in their midst - that he is the bread sent from heaven to fill them. Likewise in Matthew 6, Jesus tells his audience not to worry so much about their earthly assets and investment portfolios, that they’d be better off making deposits in heavenly bank accounts instead, where markets don’t lose value and thieves can’t steal away with your retirement savings and crooked investment managers can’t defraud you. And to an audience of one hauling up a bucket from a well at the end of a rope, Jesus said he was the water that would never leave her thirsty again. Hunger satisfied, treasure secured and compounding, thirst slaked - Jesus continues to proclaim that he is all we need to fill our deepest aches and soothe our steepest fears, if we have the ears to hear it and the eyes to behold it.
So, given this penchant of Jesus to talk about himself as our best food and drink and treasure, isn’t it also possible that in the Lord’s Prayer, he is teaching us to pray, “And Jesus give me my needed portion of your grace and love and character today”? Give me this day the very measure I need of your strength and glory and renewal. It certainly fits with the pattern that when Jesus says bread, he is again speaking of himself. It also fits the flow of the prayer better.
Consider the prayer as we are accustomed to it:
...thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and give us today enough bread made from yeast and flour and water baked in a clay oven until done to chase away the physical ache of hunger, and forgive our failures and frauds and defaults and make us more forgiving to boot, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…
A physical request wedged into a list of spiritual concerns. Clunky. Disjointed.
Now consider the prayer if Jesus means to refer to himself as the true bread again:
...thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and give us today more of your life and grace and presence and power to silence with holy joy every gnawing spiritual hunger that devours our hearts and souls, and forgive our failures and frauds and defaults and make us more forgiving to boot, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…
A spiritual plea for supply in order that the spiritual requests on either side of it might also be fulfilled to the glory of God. That seems to flow with continuity.
If this interpretation is right, it might change our usual insincere mutterings of the Lord’s prayer to a high voltage conduit for divine power and assistance. If this interpretation is wrong, at worst we are asking for more of Jesus. That seems enough to conclude that when Jesus taught his disciples to ask for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer, he didn’t mean the kind that fills your gullet, or at the very least, he didn’t mean that kind only.
Faith and Practice:
In what ways do you feel empty, lacking, needy today? Ask Jesus to give more of himself to you in ways that personally and uniquely fill these voids. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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