“I am going to take life one day at a time.” Those are a friend’s words to me after having lost his wife to cancer. “One day at a time,” he repeated, as if to remind that this is the way life is granted to us, just a day at a time. Like that man was beginning to do, Jesus lived in the present moment, teaching us not to worry about tomorrow, but to look to Father for what we daily need (Matthew 6:27-32).
To pray “this day” for our “daily” bread is to live in the present moment without anxiety about tomorrow. With this prayer for our daily bread, Jesus is likely alluding to the experience of the Israelites in their 40-year journey through the Wilderness. The Israelites would have starved had not God provided manna-bread for them each new day. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day’” (Exodus 16:4). Notice the LORD’s strict instructions: they were to gather only enough bread for the day. If they gathered more manna-bread than what they needed for the day, “it bred worms and became foul” (Exodus 16:20).
The Lord wanted the Israelites to journey ‘a day at a time’, learning to always rely on Him to provide. John Calvin suggested that Jesus added the words “this day” to the prayer in order “to restrain our excessive desire, and to teach us, that we depend every moment on the kindness of God, and ought to be content with that portion which he gives us, to use a common expression, ‘from day to day.’” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew)
Jesus’ disciples were part of an economy in which people were paid day- to-day. People lived with the daily fear of not having enough tomorrow. And in a time of inflation, shortages, and war, so we too wonder if we will have enough for tomorrow. Will we run out of what we need?
Jesus frees us from any worry about tomorrow by telling us to seek first the kingdom of God, knowing our Father will provide (Matthew 6:25- 34). Middle Eastern scholar Kenneth Bailey says that the request for daily bread “can legitimately be translated, ‘Give us today the bread that does not run out.’” (Kenneth Bailey, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes) So with the psalmist of old, we can confidently say, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1).
Most Bible scholars agree with Luther’s understanding about the meaning of “our daily bread”: “Daily bread includes everything needed for life…food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, land, animals, money, goods.” (Martin Luther, Small Catechism) What is it that you need for today? Talk to our Father!
As we pray for Father to GIVE us our daily bread, we recognize our total dependence upon Him. In praying this prayer each day, we begin to become aware that our whole life, no less than our daily bread, is a gift from God. Each breath we breathe, each beat of our hearts, are gifts received from our Father. So, with thanksgiving for His lavish goodness to us, we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
PRAY THE LORD’S PRAYER (MORNING-NOON-NIGHT)