Lord, teach us to pray:
Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Bread. Mmm, bread. Have you ever visited a bakery—a full on, patisserie/panaderia. Erica makes homemade bread sometimes—so does her mom. It’s torture to smell it baking, but when its’ done—mmm. It just goes against all that’s right that bread/carbs are to be limited.
Think of all the different kinds of breads there are in the world—the different cultures: loaves, baguettes, naan, tortillas, fry bread, challah, pita, pretzel, matzah, on and on. Somewhere in history, people figured out how to grind grains down, mix it with other stuff, and bake it back up to some sort of bread. Bread is ancient (Genesis 3 talks about bread like its’ already been around for awhile).
Today, we’re going to look at the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer about bread. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Most of us have some idea as to what this part of the prayer means, but I still think there is more to ponder, more slices of loaf to eat.
I want to first point out where or when this line occurs. The beginning of the Lord’s Prayer first begins by establishing relationship with The Father, Our Father. Then, the prayer asks for God’s will, His big-picture agenda, to take root, fruit, and come to harvest in this world, His World.
It is here, after we establish these two things, that we even mention ourselves. The first half of the Lord’s Prayer is about celebrating what God is doing outside of me, us. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to rightly prioritize ourselves in the Kingdom: God first, us second.
This is quite different than how most of us pray, though. Most of us bring our To-Do list to our Father, first, and if we’re mindful, we include God’s will for the world. In reading from different sources for today’s message, the verdict is in: we American Christians are undisciplined in our prayers. We typically pray only when we need something and we tend to be jumbled in how we pray. In observing my own prayer life, I would agree, but would add that I fail to adequately listen as well.
God invites us to timeliness—to be intentional about when we pray, why we pray, and how we pray. What is it that Paul says about the nature of God in worship? God is not a God of disorder, but order (1 Corinthians 14:33).
I want to talk about the biblical, historical context of this part as well. There were certain phrases that had loaded meanings (like there are today: “fake news” “open and affirming” “red blooded”). Asking God for bread was such a phrase in Jesus’ time.
It referred to the Feast of the Kingdom of Heaven. A Messianic vision recorded in Isaiah25:6-8 sheds some like on it. God was going to not only rescue the Hebrews (which means stomping His/their enemies), but He was going to prepare a Heavenly Feast to celebrate the return of Israel being restored! This vision of the future reached back to the Exodus and God’s manna-bread provision and believed that, once again, God would free His People and feed His People His Bread.
We believe and know that it was fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus called himself the Bread of Life as he taught in the countryside. Jesus took the bread at The Last Supper and equated it with himself. Jesus was only recognized by the two disciples in Emmaus after they broke/shared/prayed over the bread. The Bread of Heaven has come and is coming again, soon.
Finally, The Lord’s Prayer is found in two of the four Gospels: Matthew and Luke. And each uses a different phrasing when it comes to bread. I don’t want you to be troubled by the difference in phrasing. It makes sense that two different writers remember the same event in different ways—I believe that the Spirit was pointing out two different aspects of the same thing; these different aspects allow us to comprehend the event or thing more clearly.
In Matthew, we see a very clear reference to the Feast of Heaven. It says, “Give us tomorrow’s bread, today.” The Feast of the Lamb, when all things will be made new and brought back to full, whole relationship with the Father…give us the Bread of that day, today. Lord, don’t wait for our deaths or your return to give us Life…let us have it today!
As I said last week, if we really believe the promises of Jesus, the prayers of our Lord, there is little to long for with some far off and distant Heaven. Life is here and now because Jesus is here and now with us, feeding us our bread from the Feast of Heaven.
In Luke, we see the more traditional understanding. It says, “Lord, provide for us every day, each day.” When we ask The Father for His bread it also sets the correct attitude in us. We know that we are not the ones that, ultimately, are responsible for providing bread. Our Father is our provider. And the kind of bread as well as the amount of bread He provides…it is what we need.
When I make meals for my family, and a certain segment says something like this to me, “I don’t want that,” or “Is that it,” or “I’ll have something else” …it sets me off! And it is clear why: I’ve worked to give you something good, usually healthy…and it isn’t good enough for you?! But how often are we like that with God. “Thanks for the manna, God…again.” Lord, change us, teach us! May our desires and needs be satisfied by You, in Your time, and in Your way.
When I was with the Presbyterians and learning their theology, I was profoundly struck by their convictions concerning the bread used during The Lord’s Table (Communion/Eucharist). Instead of insisting on an unleavened bread (like the wafers some use), they advocated for “the bread of the culture.” If you’re Irish, use soda bread; if you’re French, use a baguette; if you’re Mexican, use a tortilla; if you’re Indian, use naan.
Why? Because Jesus, the Bread of Life and the Bread of The Feast of Heaven, comes to us where we are at…we don’t have to use Matzah or a wafer that we never use in everyday life. Jesus is divine…but he is found in the common…easily accessible…familiar…filling…delicious to the soul. I want that bread.
“Father, give us our daily bread. Give us Your Bread. Give us Jesus. We know that you will provide for us physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and in all ways. Amen.”