Give us day by day our daily bread.
This is the first petition that expresses a personal want of the petitioner. We have not thought as yet of our own necessities. Our minds have been led away over the universe of God; we have been made to take in the great purposes of the Divine love and the great attributes of the Divine character; and now with this preparation we come to think of our own personal needs. Plainly, we shall not be quite so selfish, quite so insistent, quite so querulous in our petitioning as we should have been if we had not been lifted up and led forth along these higher paths.
1. Our dependence on Him to whom we pray. For health to earn our daily bread, for wisdom to keep it and use it, we depend upon His Goodness. The habit of connecting our commonest gifts with the great Giver sanctifies and ennobles life.
2. For daily bread we are bidden to ask. Plain and simple food. A prayer the epicure would hardly think of offering.
3. Daily bread. Sufficient or necessary. Lesson of moderation in wants. We are not to pray for banks; or bins — or barns — or cellars-full, but only for our daily bread.
4. Our daily bread. Given to us; yet ours — ours when we have earned it, when by our own labour we have provided it for ourselves. Bread that we beg is not ours; bread that we take as lazy pensioners on some one else's bounty is not ours; bread that we steal is not ours; bread that we get from other people by fraud and extortion and overreaching is not ours; only the bread that we have earned by honest work and fair traffic is ours.
5. There are some who may seem to be absorbed by their circumstances from the duty of offering this prayer. Here is a man whose larders are full, whose cellars are crowded, whose barns are bursting with gathered grain, whose bank account shows a daily balance of many thousands. Is it not a little superfluous for him to say this prayer? No; for the prayer is not, "Give me my daily bread"; nor is it, "Give me and my household our daily bread"; it is "Give us this day our daily bread." It includes all mankind. He who thoughtfully takes these words upon his lips takes at the same time all human wants by sympathy upon his own soul, and craves the outpouring of the infinite bounty upon every needy human brother.
(Washington Gladden, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Give us day by day our daily bread.