November 6th 2022: Rhodri Brady

Matthew 6:11

            The focus for our thoughts today are those words we find in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We shall have occasion to look at other parts of Matthew 6, but we shall ask ourselves the question: are we praying for this on a daily basis?

            In Mark Twain’s novel about an adventurer called ‘Huckleberry Finn’ he warns the reader not to see any moral tales or deeper meaning in his work for it is all just an adventure. In other works, (e.g. C. S. Lewis’ Narnia tales), the authors would be rather upset if we did not see the deeper significance of the story that unfolds. Aslan was not just a lion but representative of the Saviour, for example. The Bible must also be understood at different levels. The writer of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, expects us to look deeper into the text to see more than the straight forward words. The words of Matthew 6:11 may seem straight forward enough, a prayer that we may have sufficient food. But what do they really convey? Is the Lord simply expecting us to ask Him for our daily food or is there something deeper?

[1] Is the prayer only about ‘baked dough?

            We are dependent creatures. We rely on physical nourishment amongst other things (air, warmth, water, shelter). When the Son of God came to earth as a man, He took upon Himself full human flesh and dwelt as a true human man. He was tired and weary on occasion, and He needed food and water just as any other man.

            Before He commenced His ministry, the Lord was taken into the desert by the Holy Spirit and was there for forty days without food. We might ask ourselves the question: why did He not eat? Why did He go without food for those forty days? One immediate answer is that there is much more to life than food. After the forty days the Lord was understandably hungry, and the Devil tempted Jesus to make bread out of stones (Matthew 4:3). Now if bread was the most important thing, He would have sought food, but instead the Lord responded to Satan with the words of Scripture as found in Deuteronomy 8:3:

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” (Matthew 4:4).

The word of God is far more important than physical food. But what is meant by the phrase: “Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”? Well, of course, this signifies all the words that God has spoken, and which are written down inspired of the Holy Spirit in our Bible. But then also we learn from John 1:1f that the Lord Jesus is the “Word of God” who has come from eternity and who has made known the Father (John 1:1,14,18). Later in John 6 our Lord taught the disciples that He was “the bread of life” of which all must partake for eternal life (John 6:33,35,48,51). At that time, He pointed out that the manna given in the desert pointed to Him. He is our daily bread!

            We are not, therefore, to think merely of ‘baked dough’ when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” but we are to think of our greater need of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Bread of Life.

            In some old ‘arcade games’ many of the characters employed could not continue in their quest within the game unless they had food. Some games displayed messages like: ‘wizard needs food,’ and when things were dire, the message would be ‘wizard needs food badly!’ But do we see such a message or hear such a warning concerning our need for spiritual food i.e., Christ Himself? We do not live by physical food alone, for the very words of God are necessary and essential.

            It is difficult to live in this way – to make our spiritual food the priority. We are all used to having physical food and we naturally defer to this as our most important need, but really our greater need is the spiritual food that Christ supplies. We do need physical food for our bodies but do we need as much as we consume? How does our consumption of the spiritual food compare to our physical intake? The other extreme is to neglect food altogether and this is unwise. But we need to have the attitude displayed in Matthew 6:33:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).

We ought to be like Job who said:

I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food. (Job 23:12).

            The Lord Jesus enjoyed food. We see this in His interaction with many peoples as He dined with them. He was once termed a “glutton” (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), although such an accusation was all wrong because Christ was sinless. He never did anything wrong. But such an accusation surely shows that He was one who enjoyed the hospitality of those around Him. And yet physical food was by no means His greatest love! After His meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, whilst the disciples went off to get provisions, we find that when the disciples returned, they urged Him to eat something. However, the Lord replied by saying that He had food about which they were ignorant (John 4:32). When they heard this, the disciples then spoke among themselves asking whether someone else had brought some food to Him (John 4:33). To this the Lord Jesus replied:

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34).

If our Saviour lived off spiritual food can we do any less? Or do we say, ‘Well He was the Son of God so it was alright for Him to have such a priority’? But remember that Christ was fully man. And when He says that we need to live by the words that proceed out of the mouth of God who are we to say otherwise?

            So, the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” is not just talking about ‘baked dough.’ It does include this, of course, but the more important food of the Spirit is the essential need of the heart. John 3:16 sums up our need. We need Christ whom the Father sent. We need to believe in Him if we are to have eternal life.

[2] The prayer is for “daily” bread.

            When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, the Lord provided them with manna which they were to collect. But they were only to collect a day’s supply. They could not gather in more than what was required for a day, for if they did, that which was left for the next day went rotten breeding worms (Exodus 16:16,20). In the same way we need to rest and rely wholly on Jesus every day.

            We should remember that when God created all things, He made us dwell in the time of days (Genesis 1 & 2). We are designed to live day-by-day. At the end of Matthew 6 the Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow,

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34).

We find this a hard thing to do – to live day-by-day. But we were created for such daily living. We automatically consider the future and how things will work out for us. However, despite our many plans and aspirations, we cannot do anything at all about tomorrow! Of course we need to make plans, but our heart should be one of dependence upon the Lord. James had something to say about our planning for the future,

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16).

The same is true with regard to sin. We ought not to worry about tomorrow’s struggles. Concentrate on what the Lord brings for us day-by-day. Are you convicted of a particular sin today? Well deal with it today. Seek the Lord’s forgiveness and repentance. Come to Him and receive from Him. Let tomorrow’s issues wait! We are to live our lives daily. In the midst of terrible troubles Jeremiah was inspired to write these words,

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:23,24).

How is your morning routine? What do you do first thing when you wake up? Is life so fast that before you exit the bed you are thinking about the day’s activities and plans? Does your routine vary according to how you feel? What we ought to do is to wake up and seek the Lord as a matter of priority. We should wake up every day with the same intent to meet with the Lord. Is the Lord Jesus our first port of call day-by-day? Is the Lord Jesus the one we call upon in each and every trial and situation we face?

[3] How does your soul fare?

            Thinking about this prayer for daily sustenance of the Lord, how do we measure up? Remember that the Lord came from heaven to save souls and He has provided Himself for us that we might live. We need to think through our lives, our pattern of life, to see where our priorities lay.  If we find that we have not prayed this prayer for spiritual food on a daily basis, then we need to change our pattern.

            Adam was given a single command not to eat of one specific tree (Genesis 2:17). This was later expanded to ten specific commands for the nation Israel. Later the Lord Jesus explained that these ten commandments went far deeper than had been realised (Matthew 5-7). Adam failed, Israel failed, and we as sons of Adam fail too. We ought to have loved the Lord wholeheartedly and thence to love all others as ourselves (the great dual summary statement of the law). But the great story of the Bible is that the Lord has come to rescue fallen, needy sinners. He has come to save and to restore us. If we break the Lord’s commandments we will surely die.

After the fall in Genesis 3, the serpent was given no mercy but was simply cursed. Although Adam and Eve suffered curses too, they were also given a promise (Genesis 3:15). Immediately after this, the Lord made tunics out of animal skins for Adam and Eve. To do this He had to sacrifice an animal whose blood was spilled. In this we see the need for sacrifice on account of their sin and rebellion, and a covering for their nakedness. The promise of Genesis 3:15 and the action of the Lord in making clothes for Adam and Eve point directly to the cross, where our Saviour became our sacrifice. Even though our sin leads to death, what Christ has done has brought us life (Romans 6:23)!

            The Lord Jesus Christ sought His Father first, always. Even on the cross He called out to the Father (Luke 23:34,46). But then He also called out “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Despite the fact that He was forsaken of the Father, the Lord still called upon God! How we need to rely fully, and wholeheartedly on the Lord. We need to trust Him, and we need to keep on trusting Him, and then we need to seek His promises. Such promises as:

Lamentations 3:23,24 – the great mercy and faithfulness of God which is new every morning.

Matthew 11:28-30 – the promise of rest for all who come to Christ.

John 3:16 – the promise of eternal life for all who truly believe.

There are many others!

We need to pray daily for the living bread of Christ! After the celebration of the Passover, before the Lord was crucified, He took bread and then broke it before His disciples, saying that they were to take and eat of it, for this was His body broken for them. Whenever we eat anything, we break the food up into pieces. In the same way we must take of Christ who broke Himself up for us. He has made Himself available that we might daily feed on Him. Let us taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s