For thousands of years people have been eating bread—and during those multiple millennias a wide variety of types of this staple food have developed. For example, there’s Arepa bread which is popular in Venezuala and Columbia. As you can see, it flat and round. It can be baked, fried or cooked on a charcoal grill, with fillings like: grated cheese, ham, black beans, chicken salad, avocado, shredded beef–or even scrambled eggs). By the way, since it’s made of corn flour, it’s gluten-free.
If you travel to India you would be served Chapati bread which is made with wheat flour and toasted over a griddle till they are freckled gold. You can eat it as is, or with cooked lentil soup or vegetable dishes or as a sandwich wrap.
Damper is a traditional Australian bush bread cooked over in the hot coals of a campfire. It’s traditionally eaten with dried or cooked meat and can be a great partner to a hearty winter stew.
Grissini are generally pencil-sized sticks of crisp, dry bread originating in Italy. They are crisp all the way through and can be flavored with various herbs, seeds, and spices to complement whatever else you may be serving. They are a great way to curb your appetite while you are waiting for lasagna!
Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. Traditionally, injera is made out of teff, which a tiny round grain that flourishes in the highlands of Ethiopia. Ethiopian food is traditionally served on a large injera. It forms a sort of edible table cloth. They put little piles of meat and veggies on the injera and you tear some off to scoop up the toppings.
I’ve had it before and it looks good before everyone starts to tear into it but once things get mixed together—well, let’s say it doesn’t. One rule—no double-dipping!
Vánočka is a sweet bread studded with raisins and topped with almonds and sugar. It’s baked in Czech Republic and Slovakia at Christmas time. There are lots of traditions as to how to make Vanocka, including wearing a white apron while mixing the dough—or jumping up and down while the dough is rising.
I could go on and on but I’ll mention one more—it’s the bread we ate in Kenya one night while on our mission trip earlier this year. It’s called bread on a stick because that’s how you make it.
This is Nancy Faulconer cooking hers. The stick is coated with olive oil so when cooked the bread comes right off leaving a handy hole through the center. You can insert a hot dog or some other kind of meat—or fruit or jam. It’s awesome! Is anyone hungry?
I mention all this not to give you the “rumblies in your tumblies” but because of the next part of the prayer guidance Jesus gives us in our text for this morning. If you know the Lord’s Prayer you already see where I’m going. Turn to Matthew 6 and lets’ read together—starting with verse 9.
9 – “This then is how you should pray, ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name,
10 – Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
11 – Give us today our daily BREAD.’”
Now, the ears of the people listening as Jesus that day would have perked up at this point—and not just because they loved to eat as much as we do—but because they came from a culture that had a great deal of history when it came to depending on God for their daily bread. I mean, when Jesus said this I’m sure their Jewish heritage gave them all a mental flashback back to the days when God delivered their ancestors from Egypt—way back when Charlton Heston led them out of bondage all the way to the Promised Land.
I’m sure you remember that chapter of Jewish History as well—how the people of Israel had been protected from all ten of the plagues God sent to encourage the Pharaoh to let His people go—and how once he did set them free, God led them during the day by a cloud and at night with a pillar of fire. You remember the story of God parting the Red Sea so they could cross on dry ground and then letting the waters come back together so as to drown the pursuing Egyptian army.
Now, after seeing all that—after experiencing God’s provision and protection and deliverance—well—you would think these people would be willing to follow God anywhere. But—no—just like you and me they were very forgetful when it came to remembering God’s great faithfulness—and in Exodus 16:3 we find them actually complaining to Moses. They said, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in EGYPT! There we sat around pots of meat and ate food, all the food that we wanted—but you’ve brought us into this DESERT to starve to death!”
In verse 4 the Lord responded to their faithless complaining by saying, “I will rain down bread from Heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I will test them and see whether they will follow My instructions.” Verse 13-14 say that in the morning just as God promised, “there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin FLAKES like FROST appeared on the ground.” They called this stuff that sounds kind of like FROSTED FLAKES, “manna,” and a loose translation of this Hebrew word would be, “I haven’t got a clue what this stuff is but we’ve got to name it something.”
Well, every day God sent them this bread from Heaven and on the day before the Sabbath He told them to gather enough for two days—so they wouldn’t have to work on that day that was to be set aside for rest and worship. If they ever gathered more than their daily needs the left overs would spoil. So, they learned to literally trust every day to provide. And He did indeed provide. God sent them their daily bread according to this plan for 40 years.
Brad Mitchell at Willow Creek did the math on this and calculated that at a rate of one quart per person for 40 years—it comes to 1.8 billion quarts a year—or a total of 72 billion quarts to feed the entire nation of Israel for four decades. That’s a lot of manna—a lot of daily bread!
Of course, all they had to eat was quail and manna—so during those 40 years I’m sure they got very creative in how they prepared this bread from Heaven. Perhaps the ladies got together and complied a manna cookbook with recipes for things like: boiled manna, fried manna, re-fried manna, manna smoothies, sweet and sour manna, manna soup, ba-manna splits—
My point is that because of their history I’m sure when they heard Jesus tell them they should learn to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”—they remembered that their Heavenly Father had done this day after day for 40 years as He provided for the needs of His people. And, in a sense, they still lived out this history because in those days it was customary to eat your daily bread in the morning—just as the nation of Israel had done in the days of Moses.
You see—back then Jewish families usually had only two main meals: breakfast, and dinner—no lunch. Breakfast was normally a piece of flat bread cake along with a piece of cheese and maybe some dried fruit and olives. Men would leave home in the morning, heading for work, and they would eat their “daily bread breakfast” as they made their daily commute. Now, with this historical context in mind I want us to take a close look at these six words of our text—because I think they contain four very important principles of meaningful prayer.
(1) First, they tell us that our Abba wants us to talk to Him every DAY.
In this part of His prayer model, Jesus urges us to pray regularly and repeatedly. Every DAY we are to ask God for our DAILY bread. And please notice the DOUBLE emphasis on prayer being a DAILY thing. I mean, anything repeated twice in a prayer that contains only sixty-six words must be important. And it is! Jesus was EMPHASIZING the fact that we are to pray for DAILY bread, not WEEKLY bread or MONTHLY bread—but DAILY bread.
Now—why daily? Why is it so important that we talk to our Abba every single day? Can’t we treat prayer like worship and just do in on what you might call a “week-to-week” plan? You know—pray every Sunday and when we finish say, “See you next week Lord. Try to take care of these next seven days for me!”
A. Well, one reason meaningful prayer is a daily thing is because we have short memories.
As I said a moment ago, we are indeed very much like the Hebrew people of Moses’ day because it is so easy for us to forget all that God does for us. In spite of the psalmist’s words we forget, “all of God’s BENEFITS”
- We forget that He, “forgives all our sins” and “heals our diseases.”
- We forget the He “redeems our lives from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion.”
- We forget that God “satisfies our desires with good things.”
So, praying every day like this keeps our memories of God’s great faithfulness sharp.
b. But a second reason I believe God asks us to pray every day—and I think this is the main reason—is simply because, as our Abba, He wants to hear from us.
You parents with kids away at school know what I’m talking about. You want to hear from your kids regularly because this is the only thing that soothes the pain that we feel when our kids aren’t around. It’s the only effective treatment for the pain that comes with this kind of separation.
Kenn told me they get a text from Paul about once a day—and I bet they look forward to that “beeping sound” that indicates their son has written. How are the rest of you brand new college kid parents doing? It’s hard to be separated from our children, isn’t it?! We hunger to hear from them. When those beeps sound we grab the phone. If we don’t get to it first we ask, “What did he say? Did he send a picture?”
Well, that’s a reflection of the way God feels about us! Remember, this is our ABBA we are talking to—our Heavenly Father, Who loves us so much that He makes it a point of keeping a running count of the number of the hairs on our head. This is our ABBA who hated the fact that our sin separated us from Him so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross because that was the only way to remove the sin barrier. So, of course He wants to hear from us every single day! In fact, He wants us to rely on Him for every decision—seek His help in every crisis—praise Him for every joy.
I mean prayer is not a grocery list—as much as it is a way of relating to God. And it’s impossible to have a meaningful relationship on a “once-a-week” basis. No—for a relationship to grow, you need to spend regular time together. In fact, meaningful prayer is a constant conversation. It’s praying without ceasing as we share every moment of every day with our Abba. Through constant prayer we can converse with God while shopping, driving, working, parenting—sermon prep—whatever.
Now, I’m not saying we should walk the aisles of GIANT talking out loud to God—although, if you did no one would think you were crazy. They would just assume you had a blue tooth in your ear or something. No, I’m referring to mentally maintaining constant contact with our Abba, talking to Him with our thoughts—as Brother Lawrence put it: “practicing the presence of God” in everything. Rick Warren refers to this and writes, “In Eden, worship was not an event to attend but a perpetual attitude; Adam and Eve were in constant communion with God. Since God is with you all the time, no place is any closer to God than the place where you are right now.”
Ephesians 4:6 says, “God rules everything and is everywhere.” and constant conversational prayer acknowledges that fact.
Well, have you ever talked to God like that—about everything? Have you ever invited Him into your thoughts? Have you ever taken Him with you to work—to school? Remember, not a day goes by but that He doesn’t long to hear from you—and you NEED to hear from Him as well!
(2) A second principle of prayer in these six words is this: God wants us to depend on Him for every THING.
I mean, this phrase: “daily bread” referred to much more than food. You see, in those days many people were hired on a day to day basis. So, when they asked God for their daily bread, by inference they were asking for daily work—which would provide food to survive on a daily basis and money to buy clothing, pay the rent, etc. And Jesus’ hearers would have understood this—they would have known that He was telling them to pray for everything they needed to exist.
As Martin Luther put it, daily bread is, “everything necessary for the preservation of this life, including food, a healthy body, job, home, wife, and children.” In this part of His instruction on prayer, Jesus was urging us to talk to God every DAY about every THING—every need—every burden.
How many of you have a friend that you talk to like this—about literally everything? It could be your spouse or a very close friend or even a mom or dad—well, God wants us to talk to Him like that—about EVERY thing. The old hymn puts it well when it says, “What a FRIEND we have in Jesus ALL our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry EVERY THING to God in prayer!”
When we pray in this all-encompassing way we learn that as the Psalm 37:4 says we can, “Depend on the Lord; and trust Him for He will take care of us.” Lucado writes, “God is not a mountain guru only involved in the mystical and spiritual. The same hand that guides your soul gives food for your body. The One Who clothes you in goodness is the same One Who clothes you in cloth. In the school of life, God is both the teacher and the cook. He provides fire for the heart and food for the stomach. Your eternal salvation and your evening meal come from the same hand.”
So, basically this part of the Lord’s prayer is a prayer of DEPENDENCE—a prayer of doggedly relying on God for every THING, every DAY. I like how Dallas Willard puts it. He says, “Today I have God and He has the provisions. Tomorrow it will be the same.”
The late E. V. Hill, who pastored Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, tells the story of how “Mama’s” love and prayers changed his life. During the height of the Depression, Hill’s real mother, who had five children of her own, didn’t have enough food to go around—so, she sent four-year-old E. V. to live with a friend in a small country town called Sweet Home. E. stands for ED—and Ed just called this friend, “Mama.” As he was growing up in Sweet Home, Mama displayed remarkable faith which led her to have big plans for young Ed. Against nearly insurmountable obstacles, Mama helped him graduate from high school (the only student to graduate that year from the country school) and even insisted that he go to college. She took Ed to the bus station, handed him the ticket and five dollars and said, “Now, go off to Prairie View College, and Mama is going to be praying for you.” Hill says that at this point in his life, he didn’t know much about prayer, but he knew Mama did. When he arrived at the college with a dollar and ninety cents in his pocket, they told him he needed eighty dollars in cash in order to register. Here’s how Hill describes what happened next: “I got in line, and the devil said to get out of line, but I heard my Mama saying in my ear, ‘I’ll be praying for you.’ So, I stood in line on the basis of Mama’s prayer. As my turn to talk to the registrar drew near I began to get nervous, but I stayed in line. Just about the time the student in front of me got all of her stuff and turned away, a professor named Dr. Drew touched me on the shoulder, and he said, ‘Are you Ed Hill?’
I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you Ed Hill from Sweet Home?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Have you paid yet?’ ‘Not quite.’ Ed replied. ‘We’ve been looking for you all this morning,’ Dr. Drew said. I said, ‘Well, what do [you] want with me?’ ‘We have a four-year scholarship that will pay your room and board, your tuition, and give you thirty dollars a month to spend.’ In that moment I heard Mama say, ‘I will be praying for you!’”
In that experience E. V. Hill learned the power of prayer. He learned that we can indeed rely on God for EVERY NEED. But note, we are to bring God our NEEDS—not our GREEDS. This part of the Lord’s prayer doesn’t say, “God give me everything I WANT” No, it says, “Give me my daily bread. Give me what I need to serve You one more day.”
I’m reminded of what Paul said to Timothy “Godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”
We need to be satisfied with our basic needs because God has not promised to make us all wealthy. Listen to what Jim Bakker the scandalized former head of the PTL network—wrote in his book, I Was Wrong. Remember, at one time Bakker was a man who championed the health and wealth gospel. He writes:
“For years I had embraced and espoused a gospel that some skeptics had branded as ‘prosperity gospel.’ I didn’t mind the label: on the contrary, I was proud of it. I even got to the point where I was teaching people at PTL, ‘Don’t pray, ‘God, Your will be done,’ when you’re praying for health or wealth. You already know it is God’ will for you to have those things! Instead of praying ‘Thy will be done’ when you want a new car! Just claim it! Pray specifically and tell God what kind you want. Be sure to specify the options and what color you want too!” The more I have studied the Bible though. I have had to admit that this prosperity message did not line up with the tenor or Scripture. If the evidence of God’s blessing was wealth, then gambling casino owners and drug kingpins and movie stars are blessed of God. If we equate earthly possessions and earthly relationship with God’s favor, what are we to tell the billions of those [faithful believers] who live in poverty?”
So, in these six words Jesus is saying we should talk to God every day and we should depend on Him for everything—every NEED of life—but our Lord was also inferring that—
(3) God wants us to trust His provision in every WAY.
I mean, asking GOD for our daily bread—means we believe He knows our needs better than we do, so this part of the prayer is a statement of TRUST. It’s saying, “God, whatever You want me to have is all I want. You know what is best for me so You know best how to answer this part of my prayer.” I like the way that Alan Redpath translates this phrase in his book Victorious Praying. He words it like this, “Give us this day bread SUITED to OUR NEED.” And since our needs are not always the same the “daily bread” God supplies is not always the same. Lucado says, “Some days the plate runs over. God keeps bringing out more and more food and we keep loosening out belt. A promotion. A privilege. A friendship. A gift. A lifetime of grace. An eternity of joy. There are times when we literally push ourselves back from the table, amazed at God’s kindness.” I like The Message paraphrase of Psalm 23:5, “God, You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup fills with blessing!”
Sometimes the “daily bread” God gives is like that because that’s what God knows we need—but then there are other days, when we wonder why God puts what He does on our plate—days we doubt the ways He chooses to “bless” us. I mean there are days when God serves up painful experiences—or times of discipline—or times of grief. As Lucado puts it, “Sometimes our plate has nothing but vegetables—twenty-four hours of celery, carrots, and squash. Apparently, God knows we need some strength—and though the portion may be hard to swallow, isn’t it for our own good?”
Well it IS—because there are invaluable lessons that can only be learned in tough times—and there is a caliber of strength that can only be gained through suffering. God knows this of course—He knows what we will need to get through what is ahead—so when we wonder why the “meal” He serves is a little hard to swallow, we need to trust the “Cook!” Praying these six words is a way of saying, “Abba You’re my Parent. You made me and know me. You know my life so feed me what You know I need to grow and develop—into the kind of person You can use to further Your eternal kingdom.”
And then the final principle of meaningful prayer we find in these words is this:
(4) God wants us to care about the needs of every ONE.
Remember…Jesus didn’t say we should pray, “Give ME this day MY daily bread,” but rather, “Give US this day OUR daily bread.” And He worded it like this as a way of helping us to broaden our focus to include the needs of others. You know, if the truth be told, when you and I woke up this morning, we didn’t have even the slightest doubt that we would be able to eat today. In fact, the major concern for the average American is WHAT we will eat—not WHETHER we will eat—but that’s not the way it is for hundreds of thousands of people in our nation and world. And this portion of the Lord’s prayer is meant to help us foster compassion for the throngs of people on our planet whose entire life is a fight against starvation.
Dr. Robertson McQuilkin of Columbia International University tells a story about visiting his son in India. His son was working and living in the slums of Calcutta (a city of fifteen million) not far from the ministry of the Sisters of Charity, the group Mother Teresa began. McQuilkin was a seasoned world traveler, but here the squalor of poverty that he witnessed on the drive from the airport simply overwhelmed him. The smells of humanity and sewer water combined with a million people living on the streets brought him to tears. His driver noticed this and said to him, “Don’t worry, Dr. McQuilkin. In a few days, you’ll get used to it.” McQuilkin responded, “That’s exactly what I don’t want to happen. I don’t want to get used to it.”
This is one reason I think it is important for churches to send their members on mission trips to third world countries like the D.R. and Kenya. We need to see hunger first-hand—we need to KNOW hungry, hurting people—so that our hearts will not grow hardened to the needs of others.
As you know, earlier this year 17 of us went to Kenya on a mission trip. One day we went to the Amani orphanage. We held the orphaned babies. We rocked them to sleep. We played with orphan toddlers. We heard about their struggles. We are much less likely to forget to pray for the orphans of the world because of that experience. Another day we visited a ministry to handicap children. It was so moving to hear of the challenges faced by families who have a handicap child in a third world country. We are much less likely to forget to pray for the physically and mentally challenged people of the world because of that experience. And of course we got to know the women of Amani Ya Ju. We worked with them and ate with them and worshipped with them. We are much less likely to forget to pray for mothers like them from war torn countries who struggle to provide for their children—because of that experience.
Remember—meaningful prayer—prayer that helps us THINK and LOVE and WORK like God does—is prayer for the needs of others. One woman discovered she had trouble remembering to pray for others, so she devised a neat little memory trick. Holding up her left hand she explained, “When I’m ready to pray, I look at my hand. This reminds me to pray for those near me—my family, my friends, my neighbors.” Pointing to her index finger, she added, “My teachers used to point at us in school. Sometimes the preacher points at us, so as I come to this finger, I pray for my teachers, the preachers—and others who have been my guides. My middle finger is my largest one. It stands above the others. This brings to mind the rulers of our country, the officials of our city, so I pray for them. The next finger is called the weak finger. When I come to it I think of the weak, the sick those who are poor and need help. I ask God to help them.”
Coming to her little finger, she concluded, “Last is my little finger. This stands for me. I finish praying for myself and the things I need.”
I’d like to close with a time of prayer for our daily bread. I’ll give you suggestions and then you take a few moments to pray. Would you bow your heads and close your eyes? Let’s begin by making a commitment to regular prayer—so take this opportunity to tell God that is your desire—and begin to share your thoughts with Him—your joys and fears. Talk to Him about everything that is on your mind right now.
TIME FOR PRAYER
Now—take a few moments to thank Him for His provision—for the good things—and the hard things. Thank Him for the joys of life and the trials. Tell Him You trust Him to provide what You need most.
TIME FOR PRAYER
Now—pray for the needs of others. You could pray for a neighbor or co-worker you know who is struggling or for a sick friend—or for the hungry people in the world. You could pray for the people of Houston—and for the people in the path of Irma but pray for the needs of others.
TIME FOR PRAYER
Thank You for this the blessing of prayer. Help us take advantage of it by inviting You to share every moment of life with us as we seek your guidance and help. Teach us to trust Your provision. Remind us that You know what is best for us. Give us hearts like Yours that care for the needs of others. Now, speak to us Father. Tell us the decisions we need to make—the changes we need to embrace in order to align ourselves with Your will. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN
As we stand and sing, come—confess your faith in Jesus—join our church—come share any decision God has led you to make.