Forthright Magazine

Give us our daily bread

Jesus taught we should pray, "Give us our daily bread." Two observations suggest a congruent petition capturing its essence.

First, in the ancient Mediterranean diet, baked bread from barley or wheat flour was the staple food. Thus the phrases "eat bread" or "break break" could designate the eating of a common meal (In Greek Mark 3:20; Mark 8:19). Jesus was guiding his followers to petition God for their food, a necessity.

Second, Jesus taught his disciples to pray for their epiousios bread (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). This is the first appearance of this word within the surviving Greek literature. What does epiousios mean? We are not exactly sure. However, all of the etymological theories revolve around and closely relate to the idea of "daily."

In a day labor society tomorrow’s meal remained unknown. Rather than worry about tomorrow’s food and drink, Jesus instructed them and us to focus on today (Matthew 6:34,31). Perhaps Jesus was echoing Proverbs 30:8’s petition: "feed me with the food that is needful for me" (ESV). As those aware of our dependence upon God, we are to ask God for today’s food and thank him for what we eat. To pray for our daily bread is to request what is needed for today.

What do we need today? Yes, we need food, but what else? Do we need God’s comfort in the midst of troubles and suffering? Do we need peace and faith for overcoming fear? Are we in need of wisdom to navigate decisions?

God can provide food (Matthew 6:33), comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), peace (Philippians 4:6-7), wisdom (James 1:5) and so much more. What do our lives need for today?

When Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, it would seem congruent to petition, "Please provide what is needed for today." Such a request reveals a dependent relationship upon God. Such a request includes our food which might literally involve some bread.


Barry Newton
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