Scripture: Matthew 6:11
Sermon: “Our Daily Bread” By Pastor Todd Buurstra
Give us this day our daily bread. The problem with this prayer? It’s very familiar and very irrelevant to us today. Take very familiar. If you are in church every Sunday, or you rarely darken the doors, you’ve either seen this picture, or you’ve heard this prayer. It’s a yawner.
On top of that, it’s irrelevant for rich Americans. We have weekly bread, and don’t need daily bread. Now we understand that many of the Palestinians to whom Jesus taught were day laborers for whom if there was work that day there was bread. If there wasn’t work, there wasn’t bread. THEY needed daily bread. But we have freezers, fridges, 401 Ks, Il Forno gift cards!
So what does the “our daily bread” prayer mean?
Let’s start from the end, BREAD, by talking about the breadth of the bread prayer. It en-compasses the college kid’s prayer, Lord, help me remember what I studied for this final!! I pulled an all-nighter and I hardly know where my classroom is. And it encompasses our pre-schooler’s prayers. Kristin knows how I pray for her little brother Dominic because he’s in the hospital so often. So, last time when it was time to pray, Kristin’s mom said, Kristin, will you pray for us? So she had us stand, grab hands, and she prayed, Jesus, I love you! And I can’t wait until Dominic comes home! Amen!! For daily bread is about a lot more than just eating.
Martin Luther applied this prayer to: food and drink, clothing, home, crops, health, good family life, thriving business, safe community, good government, safety from accidents or acts of God… and on the Sunday we send off our college students, we might include, History 101. In other words, the breadth of the daily bread prayer is any physical need.
The bread prayer has such breadth since, as my professor said, “the great Creator is also the great Provider.” God does not abandon what God has made, but provides “bread” for all.
Recently I went so far testing the breadth of God’s bread by praying rather intensely for the debt ceiling debate. I guess I’m getting more passionate about my fiscal conservatism. I was really praying for the “Grand Deal,” and then got mad at the players walking away from each other. So then, in order to sleep, I had to pray to let go of my anger, and as that happened found that I began to like whom I thought most responsible for passing up the grand deal. But I was still anxious about whether we’d get our daily bread in the form of a debt deal, so I kept praying. And when a small deal was finally reached, I felt God had answered a bread prayer for America.
DAILY bread tells us that Jesus is concerned about our moment by moment sustenance. The 16th century Heidelberg Catechism Q & A #125, which we will confess in a moment, puts it:
Give us today our daily bread means,
Do take care of all our physical needs so that we come to know
That you are the only source of everything good,
And that neither our work and worry…can do us any good without your blessing.
We work and worry…but we don’t have to do the latter, if we substitute prayer. For if you work and pray, study ten hours and pray, send ten resumes and pray, you can be sure of daily bread.
Daily bread is what the manna in the wilderness was all about. Remember how when the Hebrews were trekking from slavery through the wilderness towards the Promised Land, God gave them manna to eat every morning? And how the manna was only good for one day? So that if you got greedy and tried to horde two days worth, by Day 2 maggots infested the manna? As rich Americans, we are hoarders, and we are experiencing the spiritual infestation of maggoty materialism. But Jesus’ purpose for daily manna is to teach us to trust him moment by moment.
But don’t abuse prayer either. Another professor told the story about a prayerful student who came up to him at mid-terms to say, Sorry, Dr. Sweetman, I was going to study last night, but God told me to go to a prayer meeting. Can I take the mid-term tomorrow? The good Dr. was kind and let her do so. But when finals came around, and the same student wanted to abuse prayer again asking, I was going to study last night, but God told me to go to the prayer meeting instead. This time Dr. Sweetman replied, That’s too bad, because God just told me to fail you.
Lastly, OUR daily bread. Jesus is teaching us to not just be satisfied if we have bread in our freezer because it’s not my daily bread, but to be mindful of starving saints in Somalia as we pray for our daily bread. In our land of “fruited plans” and “amber waves of grain” we see little dire need, but when we pray our daily bread, we are moved to help all who live in famine.
And praying for a neighbor’s physical needs can be a powerful witness. A man who often prayed for his neighbors as he walked past, like I do, and I hope you do, walked up to one guy taking down Christmas lights. As they talked, the prayer-er asked the guy on the ladder if there was anything specific he could pray about. The guy came off the ladder, asked for health prayers, and it opened a whole conversation over dinner about prayer’s effect—the power of our.
The best way to begin to pray for our daily bread is to pause before each meal, give thanks for what you have—bread, trust to God your worries for the day—daily, and pray for those around you who have greater, physical need than you—our. And you will be blessed!
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