Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on June 29, 2014.
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:9-13. Today we continue our examination of the greatest prayer ever spoken, the Lord’s Prayer. As I have stated several times over the last four weeks, it is our desire to go deep in this prayer, and to mine it for the riches that are hidden behind each word. My hope is that for each of you, you will never pray this prayer the same again. That it will never cross your lips in vanity, but from your heart you will speak these words with the weight they deserve. With that said, let us read our text, pray, and see what God desires to show us.
Before we get into the specifics of verse 11, I want to take a macro view of the second half of the Lord’s Prayer; the half that focuses on the “us” aspect of the prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread…forgive us our debt…lead us not into temptation.”
These three prayer requests cover all of our needs: They cover our physical needs, our relational needs, and our spiritual needs. The bread is for the body, forgiveness is for our relationship with God and others, and deliverance is for our spiritual well being. These three aspects of our life are literally everything, they are comprehensive.
We need to remember that this prayer is not an excerpt form a prayer book written by man. It is the suggested prayer of Jesus Christ, the Author of Life. This prayer is a window into the mind of the Potter and what He sees as fundamental to our existence, fundamental to our life. And I think we would all agree with Jesus if we were to strip life to the bare bones, this is what life is all about. Our body, our soul, and our spirit.
In addition to this, the “us” portion of this prayer not only speaks to the completeness of ourselves, but it speaks to the completeness of our lives in history: past, present and future. It speaks to our past in regards to the forgiveness of our sin. It speaks to our present in regards to our need for sustenance to survive. And it speaks to our future in regards to the evil that is crouching at our door waiting to devour us. Jesus provides a prayer that is unmatchable. Only God himself can provide us with such a simple prayer that is simultaneous deeper than we could ever imagine.
With this said, let us examine the first part of the three aspects of the “us” portion and look at verse 11, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Some people desire to make this verse say more than it does. The reason is because of the overall style of the prayer. The tone of the prayer, at first glance seems to be merely spiritual in the sense it speaks of hallowing, God’s Kingdom, forgiveness of sins, and evil. I have to admit that I use to be one of those people. I believed that the Lord ’s Prayer was merely about the spiritual bread that comes from the Lord. There may be some truth to this, but I think this prayer request is primarily about the physical.
The second reason people try to make more of this than there is, is due to the fact that the word for “daily” is somewhat mysterious. The word for daily is “epiousios.” This is the only time that this word is used in the Bible. There is no other usage of it in all of scripture. On top of that, this word, “epiousios” cannot be found in any other Greek literature. It was believed to be found, on a piece of papyrus that was a grocery list, but there is now even controversy over whether the grocery list says “epiousios.” Now because of this shroud of mystery around this word, people have attempted to make it say something more than it says.
For example, many people have wrongly been taught that what Jesus was encouraging in this prayer was a prayer to receive the daily Eucharist of the Catholic Church. We can thank a guy by the name of Jerome for starting this current problem. He gave the word “daily” a somewhat divine meaning due to it uniqueness.
To make this prayer about the Catholic Eucharist just doesn't fit the context of this prayer, nor the personality of Jesus. First, the Lord’s Supper would not be implemented for approximately 2-3 years. To give the disciples a prayer that would be obscure and meaningless for 2-3 years just doesn't connect. Second, having his disciples pray for the participation of a ritual is not at all how Jesus of the Bible operates. Jesus is not about pomp and circumstance. He does not encourage men to pray for a daily ceremony. Jesus is a God who speaks to the heart, not to rituals.
With that said, what is Jesus encouraging us to do when we are to pray “Give us this day, our daily bread.” This may seem simplistic, but Jesus is telling us to ask God for food. Jesus is encouraging us to pray for sustenance. To pray for the necessities of life.
This should go without saying, but without food we die. No food means no heart beat. We are dependent on food. God created us to live by eating, and not only to eat one time a day, but three times. God created us to be very needy people. So right out of the gates when we start to pray about ourselves, we put ourselves in the proper place before God. We are the creatures and He is the Creator.
For many of you, this prayer request falls of deaf ears because you have never experienced the feeling of desperation that comes from poverty. If I were to walk into your home and open up your cabinets I would find boxes and boxes of food. In fact, in 2012 a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that Americans throw away ½ of their food every year. So for every plate of food you eat you throw away an additional plate straight to the garbage. This equates to $165 billion dollars worth of food a year that is thrown away in the United States. Here in America we are swimming in food, and because of this we take food for granted, and this is exactly why this portion of the Lord’s Prayer is so important for us to take to heart. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31.
When we pray to God to give us bread, to give us sustenance, to give us the basic necessities of life, we are saying that God is the giver of bread. We are saying that He is the one that has the storehouse of grain at his disposal and he will distribute it as he pleases. Not you, not your employer, not Wal-Mart, not the Government…God. God alone is the Giver of bread. Jesus has spoken to this reality already in the Sermon on the Mount. Flip back to Matthew 5:45.
By us praying for bread from our Dad, we are already answering the prayer we started, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” For when we ask the giver of all things for provisions we are exulting him above ourselves, the wisdom and labor of man, and proclaiming a truth in our life that the fallen world rejects. Praying this reality produces two God ‘glorifying realities in our life: intimate dependence and God glorifying contentment.
The issue of man is sin. It is the biggest problem in this world. We have talked about this before. Another way you could describe sin is independence. God has designed us to live in relationship with Him. This is what our soul most deeply longs for, whether you accept it or not. Sin is a declaration to live a life separated from God, a life independent of Him.
The parable that best fits this is the the prodigal son in Luke 15 where the son takes the inheritance of his dad and wants to live independent of Him. We all know the story, the son squanders everything and ends up in the gutter of life, broken, hungry and hanging out with pigs. In this moment he then has a moment of clarity. He decides to return home and once again, be dependent upon his father.
Praying, “Give us this day our daily bread” is a declaration of dependence. It is a request that springs forth from a heart that recognizes that God is our provider and asking for the provisions of our day creates a deep intimacy with our Lord. For each morning we are looking to Him to give us what we need, to live, breath, and have our being.
AS a Father of four kids I am starting to better understand what Jesus meant when he said we must become like child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Children are dependent. In fact because of my sin, there dependence at times drives me crazy. I find myself longing for the day that they can cook, clean, and make their own money. God is not like that, he never says live independent of me, in fact he says the complete opposite, he says abide in me. I am the vine you are the branches. God desires for your prayer life to be a childlike one. One that starts each morning with, “Dad, may I please have some breakfast.”
Second, God glorifying contentment. Charles Spurgeon said this, “If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” If we recognize that God is the First Giver; that He sovereignly provides to each and everyone one of us according to His will, then we should accept whatever He provides, whether that is abundance or whether it is nothing. Listen to the wisdom of Job at the pinnacle of his anguish:
Likewise, Paul was a man who had days of hunger, however, listen to what he says in Philippians 4:11-13.
We must not let this sentence pass you by. It is immense in your daily walk with the Lord. So we can say, “Whether you eat or drink or what you do, do all to the Glory of God.”