Give us day by day our daily bread.
"Bread." Life's commonest necessity, our physical care and craving; and this most practical of gifts lies in the very middle of Christ's own model prayer for daily use! And yet there are people who regard the Christian religion as visionary, contemplative, a matter that lies outside the circle of the actual; a something above, beyond, and apart from the ordinary acts and experiences of life! Yet here it is! a thing of the pantry and the pocket, mingled and wrapped up with pardon and paradise. It is a golden ladder, this religion of Jesus, bright with the vision of angels, and with its top among the stars, and resting hard by the throne of God. And yet it is set up on earth amid tools and toil, business and bread. "Give us this day our daily bread." That cannot be the bread of idleness. It cannot properly be applied to the food which is received in charity, when there is no earthly reason why we should not go forth in manly independence, and earn our own loaf. The prayer is net — "Give me this day somebody else's bread — give us this day bread anyhow, and from any quarter"; but, give us our bread: that which has fairly and honestly become ours, by the sweat of our own brow, by the honest toil of our own hands. I remember reading the memoir of some good and successful man, who says, in reference to his first start in the world: "That was a sweet loaf, both crust and crumb, that I bought and paid for out of my first wages." You see, it was his daily bread. Now, whatever our station, our lot in life may be, let us seek, in this respect, to exhibit true self-respect and self-reliance; and while we ask our God to give us daily bread, let us ask and strive, too, that it may be ours, not other people's; ours, not our creditors'; ours, not by fraud or wrong, but our own genuine property, which God hath enabled us to win. But I must point your attention to one word more in this petition: "Give us our daily bread." The model prayer has no exclusiveness. It is a stranger to selfishness. It is not, "Give me my daily bread." "Our Father" owns our brotherhood, and our brotherhood cares for the wants of others as well as our own; and we cannot use this prayer aright, cannot hope to win the Father's gracious answer to it, unless we are open-hearted and open handed to our brother's honest need. Jesus would that we remember the poor. The Jews have a capital proverb, "He that prays for another is heard for himself." Let us break our bread to the hungry, so shall our daily bread be sweeter to the palate and come more surely to the hand. It is said of a certain lad who had listened long to his well-to do father's prayers for the poor and needy, that after they rose from their knees, the boy appeared moody and silent. "What are you thinking about, my son?" said the father, who probably thought his prayers were bearing fruit in the boy. "I was thinking, father, that if I had your corn-bags, I would soon answer your prayers." I am afraid there is a good deal of similar devotion. Brothers I when ye pray, say, Give us this day our daily bread! And do your best among God's poor ones to help to answer your own petitions. "The bag is full," said a kindly farmer, "though enough has missed the mouth to give the birds a dinner." "Give us this day our daily bread." It breathes absolute dependence. You can't buy. God must give. Strength to gain it, skill to earn it, power to eat it — all are from Him. From Him the soil, the seed, the sun, the harvest. What hast thou that thou hast not received? How long the gifts have come to you! How bountiful they have been and still are I And, once again, before stern winter comes with shivering blast across the bare and empty fields — He hath sent bread enough and to spare. Our Father! May our hearts be filled with gratitude and our lives with praise.
(J. J. Wray.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Give us day by day our daily bread.