“Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
This line of the Lord’s Prayer feels the most earthy, doesn’t it? There is something so human about our need for food. I believe that this request for bread is intended to be read with that physical need in mind, but as with every other line in the prayer, there is a deeper meaning.
Jesus uses this idea of bread multiple times in his teaching. Once while teaching, he says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). He also tells his disciples, “‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work'” (John 4:32,34).
So what does Jesus have in mind when he teaches us to pray for our daily bread? In addition to our physical need for food, this prayer has a spiritual or heavenly meaning. As physical as we are, we are far more than physical beings. We have bodies, minds, souls, and spirits, and this prayer is a request for bread that feeds all of us. Now, the context of the prayer helps to aim this idea further.
God designed humans for the very purpose of bringing his kingdom to the cosmos. We pray for bread with voices and minds designed to hallow his name and bring his kingdom. If I were to put this into my own words, I might say, “give me the sustenance that I need (spiritual, relational, physical, emotional) to participate in bringing your kingdom.” When we become unhealthy as people, we begin to believe that our desires are the aim of our existence. That is not intended to be a shame-creating statement. Instead, it is an invitation to a life-giving reality that we were made for a purpose, and when we live in that purpose, we find genuine thriving.
As you pray this prayer today, maybe ask God what bread he thinks you need today? What resources, food, energy, healing, or wisdom do I need to live in your kingdom today? Then ask him for that bread.