Give Us Today The Food We Need
Have you ever walked up to a restaurant, checked the menu posted outside, and quickly realized that the restaurant was not for you? Not because you didn’t like the food they offered, but because it was out of your price range? I have learned that if the restaurant puts its menu in the window, I can’t afford it.
It’s essentially a polite “do not enter” sign made for me.
Today, we’re studying the line within the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus says, “Give us the food we need today…” This has been more commonly called “our daily bread.” It’s a phrase that doesn’t hold much meaning for most of us. “Giving us our daily bread” seems like the most insignificant part of the prayer.
As a matter of fact, I know some of you don’t eat bread.
You’re certainly not going to pray for it.
Petitionary prayer is the most common form of prayer. Prayer means many things to many people, but at its most straightforward and apparent, prayer is about asking God for help. Petitionary prayer is simply asking God to meet our needs and, sometimes, our wants. What we’re talking about today is a tool that most of us have already been equipped with and are already familiar with. Still, we need to take the prayer further. Jesus instructs us to pray like that.
When Jesus teaches us to pray for our “daily bread,” he instructs us to pray for the tangible, the immediate, and the insignificant things. It seems silly, or selfish even, to pray for something like a good night’s rest, or about that fight you had with a friend last week, or for the energy to finish a project at work when other people are battling something as serious as potentially life-threatening illnesses.
And yet, Jesus tells us to pray for something as simple as the food we need. He teaches his followers and us that reliance on God is not just for the big problems. He doesn’t say, “When you pray to God, think about the biggest, most challenging, the most problematic aspect of your life and bring that to God.” Instead, we’re instructed to think about something quite ordinary, like getting hungry and needing food, and bring that before God.
Why We Should Petition
When we come to God and pray for ourselves, we’re nurturing our relationship with God. Think about when you were a kid. Who did you ask when you were a kid and wanted something? Was there a parent you were more likely to ask? in my house, my children will ask their mom. They will talk to the one willing to haggle if they don’t want to finish dinner.
I, on the other hand, do not negotiate with terrorists.
As adults, this changes a little bit. What we ask for as adults depends on who we’re asking. We’re not going to ask our tax professional for relationship advice. To whom we ask the question depends on who we’re asking, and what we ask God reveals our relationship with God.
What do you ask God for? What does this speak about your relationship with God? What kind of relationship do you have with God?
Jesus uses this parenting language in Matthew 7:9-11,
“You parents if your children ask for a loaf of bread? Do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish? Do you give them a snake? Of course not. So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who asked him?”
Jesus makes the connection right away: When you ask God for something, it’s like a child coming to their parents. When we come to God and ask him for daily bread, we’re moving toward a more authentic, genuine, and deeper relationship with a God who is interested in every aspect of our lives, not just the significant parts.
Asking for daily bread also acknowledges dependence on God. We have a dependent relationship with God. You may disagree with that, and I would understand why. Dependency on others is really hard, even when we have a good relationship with them. It’s hard to put ourselves in a position of dependence because it often makes us feel guilty or ashamed. We’ve been taught that if we have to depend on others, we have done something wrong.
That’s what we think. It’s not right.
We are dependent on God, and we are dependent on other people. That’s not bad. Praying to God to give us today the food we need is both a way to ask God to provide the essentials for life and a way for us to express dependence on God.
Now, what about unanswered prayer? Jesus says to pray for the food we need, and we do that, but then we’re not answered. It’s painful. I’ve prayed for people to be healed, only to see them continue to suffer. I’m sure you have to. It’s biblical to be honest about your struggles with unanswered prayer.
For example, have you thanked God for not answering the prayer that you would get married and have five kids with your junior high sweetheart? A lot of us are thankful that prayer wasn’t answered.
Of course, we’re not junior high anymore. Bigger things are going on now, and life is getting more serious. Unanswered prayers get heavier, making understanding why God didn’t answer us harder. We trust God anyway and acknowledge that his silence differs from his absence.
When God’s not answering our prayers, he’s still there.
When it comes to unanswered prayer, these things can draw us closer to God or push us further from him – and the choice is ours. You’re going to have unanswered prayers regardless of what you choose. You’ll just have fewer prayers answered if you walk away from God.
Petitionary prayer is a prayer that draws us closer to the heart of God.