Give us day by day our daily bread.
You will also find the same prayer, in Slightly different words, in Luke 10:3: "Give us day by day our daily bread." Let me, first of all, even at the risk of virtually repeating what I said at the beginning of a former address, call your attention to the place which this petition occupies in the Lord's prayer. I have seen a gentleman bringing his old mother into a room, leaning upon his arm. He got the best seat for her. He helped her before any one else. "Wouldn't I be unworthy of a son's name and place if I did not consult my mother's wishes before my own, and seek her pleasure above my own, and make what was mine ever second to what was hers?" Just so with God and His children. His will, His honour, His glory — these should ever be first; so that, even before getting the wants of the body supplied, before thinking of their daily bread, they must think of Him.
I. This petition teaches the lesson of DEPENDENCE and THANKFULNESS: God the Giver of all good, and we the receivers. That is implied in the opening word, "Give." It acknowledges our dependence on God.
II. This petition teaches the lesson of CHARITY — of caring for others as well as for ourselves. It does not say, "Give me my bread." I have seen two orphans. The elder, a girl, has her arm clasped round her brother, and as she looks at his pale cheeks, and bare feet, and tattered clothes, all heedless of herself, and only mindful of him, she says, "Have pity on us; help us; give us." That has a power that "give me" never would have had. This is a prayer for others. It is a prayer for the family, the father asking the blessing for all his household.
III. This petition teaches the lesson of DAILY TRUST IN GOD. "Give us this day." When Israel was in the wilderness, we can fancy this prayer to have suited them well, "Give us this day our daily bread." They had no store, and yet they had no fear. How apt we all are to fear for the future, alike in youth and age. I might mention many instances of a more ordinary kind, occurring in common life, all pointing in the direction of trusting in God in any emergency. I prefer, however, to call your attention to one or two well-authenticated instances of a more remarkable, though without pretending at all to be of a miraculous, kind. I dare say many of you are familiar with the history of those Christians in the valleys of Italy, so well known as "the Waldenses," alike for their sufferings for the truth and their unflinching steadfastness. On one occasion they had been driven out from their homes, and when a large number, consisting of many hundreds, returned, what with the assaults of their enemies, and the want of food, their case seemed quite desperate. At this juncture, however, a thaw came on in these stormy regions, and, in the course of a night, the snow had so melted away, that next morning there stood a field of corn ready to be cut, almost as if it had come there by miracle, sustaining these Christian martyrs till other supplies came. During the persecution that raged in France at the time of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, when so many Protestants perished, a minister, named M. Merlin, chaplain to the good Admiral de Coligny, hid himself in a hay-loft. Here, however, he was in danger of dying from starvation, and would have perished, but that every day a hen came and laid an egg near where he was, which preserved his life! We are told of another witness for the truth — a godly woman, who had great faith in God's providence, that, on being brought before a judge, and condemned for her religion, he tauntingly said to her, "I shall send you to prison, and then how will you be fed?" Her reply was, "If it be my Heavenly Father's will, I shall be fed from your table." And so it was. The wife of the judge, hearing this, was so struck with the woman's steadfastness and faith in God, that she supplied her with all she needed during her imprisonment, and herself found the same Saviour for whom the other suffered. Surely the Lord is worthy to be trusted. An old writer say of the child of God, "What he hath not in the cupboard, he hath in the promise!"
IV. This petition teaches the duty of PRAYER FOR ALL COMMON MERCIES. We are told here to pray for "bread"; and bread includes all that is needed for the supply of our bodily wants. And then, "this day," implies that the prayer, as it is needful, so it should be offered every day. One day's food will not do for another, and So one day's prayer will not do for another.
V. This petition teaches the lesson of DILIGENCE, HONESTY, AND CONTENTMENT — "our bread."
1. It must be earned.
2. It must be honestly come by. Otherwise, you cannot say "our bread."
3. It must be "food convenient for you." You may not get all you would like. You may not get what other people regard as best for you. Look into that cottage, and see the aged saint, whose home it is, sitting at an uncovered table, with a crust of bread and a cup of water. The head is reverently bowed, the face is lighted up with a look of content, and thanks are given before partaking, for "All this, and Christ too!" Not long since, one whom I knew, a tradesman in humble life, was dying of consumption. Those who went about him remarked his contentment and his thankfulness. One day a bunch of grapes was handed in for the invalid, and when this, so much better than the "daily bread," was given, his heart was so full, that the only way in which he could get outlet to what he felt, was by asking his young wife to lock the door, that undisturbed, they might have family worship, in acknowledgment of this gift of God. When a friend of mine went in, a little after, they had just concluded their exercise, and the dying man, holding up the grapes, said, with a beaming face," This is just like one of the clusters of Esohcol, telling what the promised land will be!
VI. This petition teaches the lesson of MODERATION IN OUR DESIRES — "Our daily bread."
(J. H. Wilson, M. A.)Nor is it the penniless alone who must offer this prayer. The millionaire must offer it not less than the pauper. For, observe how many steps are involved in the obtaining a single loaf of bread. Trace the history of wheat from the day it is sown as grain in the poor man's field to the day it reappears as bread on the rich man's table. Look first at the grain itself. Tiny and simple as a kernel of wheat is, man, although skilful and strong enough to build empires, is not skilful and strong enough to build a solitary wheat-kernel. Each kernel is the product and gift of our Heavenly Father. This is the first step. Again: Wheat cannot grow without soil. And soil man cannot make. True, he can modify its character. But he and all the chemists in the world, sitting in conclave with Liebig at their head, cannot create one of those ingredients, which in their union constitute soil. Soil is the product and gift of our Heavenly Father. This is the second step. Again: The best quality of wheat may be put into the best quality of soil, and yet there be no harvest. Moisture, heat, light, electricity, chemical elements and agencies in most complicated and delicate forms, and these in due order and proportions — all these are indispensable to the sprouting, growing, and ripening of the wheat. And not one of them can man make. He may modify them, indeed; but not one of them can he create. They are the product and gift of our Heavenly Father. This is the third step. Again: The wheat may be cradled and gathered into granaries, and yet there be no bread. Skill is needed to take advantage of the laws of mechanics and of chemistry, to invent the machine that shall thresh and winnow it, and the mill that shall grind it, and the yeast that shall leaven it, and the oven that shall bake it. And skill, although man prides himself on it as though it were his own creation, is the gift of our Heavenly Father. This is the fourth step. Again: The wheat may already be in the form of bread, and yet not find its way to the table. Numerous and complicated laws of finance, laws of demand and supply, of labour and capital, of exchange and circulating medium, intervene between the producer and the consumer. And these laws are aa much beyond the power of human alteration as the winds of heaven. True, man may modify their action, as the mariner does the action of the winds when he adjusts his canvas to the breeze. But he can no more create or alter or annihilate them than the mariner can turn an easterly wind into a westerly, or Euroclydon into a zephyr.
(G. D. Boardman, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Give us day by day our daily bread.