Give Us Today Our Daily Bread – Matthew 6:11

In the context of the ministry of Jesus, this is a prayer for the needs of the individual. Frequently “our daily bread” is made into “spiritual bread” or a sacrament, but that is not what Jesus is talking about. While this is a genuine attempt to make the text “applicable,” it misses the point that Jesus is setting up a model prayer for his disciples. The followers of Jesus really did live in crushing poverty and relied on God for their daily bread!

daily-breadThis is a very Jewish idea, that the ones with food would share it with the poor, James 2:15 for example, indicates it is our responsibility to care for the brothers and sisters who do not have food. In the Second Temple book Psalm of Solomon the writer encourages moderate living and contentment (PsSol 5:16-19). Later in Matthew Jesus is going to send his disciples out to visit the villages throughout the Galilee and they are to rely only on God (Matthews 10:4-15). He tells them to not take any money but rather rely on God totally for their needs.

In a culture which did not have a way to store food, sharing makes a lot of sense. Bread which is surplus will go bad, extra milk will spoil, etc. If a person “slaughters the fatted calf” they must give it all away that day since it will be wasted. This is why the poor were regularly cared for by the leftovers from a banquet table. Some holidays, Sukkoth for example, included sharing food with strangers intentionally. There is nothing like this in the modern church, even the potluck is something of a trade – few people stay for a pot luck if they have brought nothing.

In Church history, some people have gone to extremes which are not at all what is in mind here. There were some in the medieval period who took voluntary vows of poverty, relying on begging for their daily needs. Their goal was noble, to be like Christ in every way, including his poverty, but a Mendicant monk was not balancing voluntary poverty with Paul’s command to work and provide for your own needs (1 Thess 4:8-12).

A monk living in voluntary poverty stood in contrast to the extreme riches of the church. The great cathedrals cost enormous amounts of money in a time when there was great poverty. Is it right to spend that much on a building or for the opulent trappings which went along with this in a time when people were dying of starvation? The mendicant reaction was reasonable, but perhaps misguided.

This balance between poverty and riches has always been a problem for the Christian. Usually this results in a wise use of resources (which are provided by God) so that needs are met and God’s work is supported.

How are we to pray for our daily needs? First, recognize we have daily needs. It is very difficult for us to admit we do have daily needs. Part of the reason is that they are so easily met we do not think of them as needs. Most of us have never really suffered from serious want, so food and shelter are taken for granted.

Second, develop an attitude of thanksgiving for how God has provided for your needs. We have a job, we have resources which are far beyond what we deserve, and from the perspective of the history of the world, mind-boggling in richness. No generation of the church has been as wealthy as the western church of the twenty-first century. How often do we seriously thank God for allowing us to be born when and where he did?

Third, bring your real needs before the Lord. God is not too busy to be interested in our needs, do not think that our physical needs are so insignificant that God is not interested in them. Analogy: Perhaps your child has an assignment in school, maybe a science fair project. They are perfectly capable of doing it without ever telling you about it, but most parents are thrilled to hear about what their kids are doing in school, and want to help (or even take over the project!) Just as you are happy to know about and help your child, God is thrilled when we bring him our projects, needs wants, desires.

Finally, find ways in which you can be used to provide for the needs of others. There are some who are praying for their daily needs who are going to struggle to make ends meet, who are needing the miraculous gift of a bag of groceries, or an anonymous Meijer card in the mail at Christmas. God gave us our affluence in order to manage it for him, we ought to find places to make use of our riches to meet the needs of others.

14 thoughts on “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread – Matthew 6:11

  1. I have often thought this when I drive downtown or pull up to stop lights with people begging for money. How would a true follower of God handle this situation? When I see these people I hurt for them, I want to help them, I just don’t know how. I could just give them my money but then they may just spend it on more drugs and alcohol. I think the thing that I need to do most is prayed that God would open up their hearts and show them that they don’t have to live like that, and the second is to always keep some kind of food like granola bars in my car to give them at the least.
    In terms of living like a monk with nothing would be rather hard I feel like. It would be interesting to try and do it though.

    • What do you think the word is saying when they mention the daily bread? I believe it’s what we need to make it in this life. At the same time, what is the daily bread, God’s word or his likeness? I can easily say I do not know what the daily bread. According to Matthew 6:11-13, it looks to be the likeness of the Father and what he expect from his people. This reminds what Sarah Maas mention “There is another aspect to this that is important, the fact that man needs to have faith that God will provide their daily needs.” (Maas, 2018) I totally like that insight from Sarah because she is indeed showing the needed things that we must as people to ensure the image that we need to display and the daily bread helps us in that process. The amazing thing about the daily bread some might look at this as a chore to do. I strongly believe that the daily bread does not tolerate sinful behavior, at the same time we are humans not robots therefore we need a new approach to obtaining daily bread in this life. That’s way in Galatians 5: 18-23 it states, So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” If we focus on one, it will be hard to become distracted by the other.

  2. “Give us today our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).” This verse it talking more than just bread. The phrase our daily bread could include food but to me it could also imply that God would give us what we need each day. Our day to day needs change depending on what we are going for the day and what we are going through. We might change and our daily needs might change but that’s the thing about God he Never changes he is like a rock steady and unchanging. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, for the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal (Isaiah 26:3-4).”

  3. The verse “Give us today our daily bread” in Matthew 6:11, is talking about more than just God giving us bread every day. It is talking about asking God for our daily needs each day. I really like the implications of the verse that this blog mentioned. When we are praying to God, there are a few steps that we should think through. The first step is to realized that we have needs that we require each and every day. The second step is to develop an attitude of thanksgiving. This means being thankful for how God has provided for us each and every day for all of our needs. The third step is to talk to God about our real needs. This means that we need to bring every need that we have before God. We should not keep needs from Him, even if he already knows about them. The final step is to find ways that we can provide and help for others around us. I had never thought about this being the final step, but it is one that I really want to start incorporating into my life more. I love the idea of randomly helping those around us without expecting anything in exchange. This can be the way that God uses us to help others around us.

    • Great post Alex! The last two sentences of your post are the ones that really stuck out to me! I think that this is the exact reason that we should give. We should expect nothing in return. It should be strictly out of the goodness of our heart. McKnight brings up a very interesting point in his book. He says, “Today suggests we are not to worry about tomorrow or about storing up food but to trust God for what we need that day (McKnight, 2013).” But, is that really the way to think about things? Should we worry about the future? Not just our future, but other people’s future and lives. That is the way that I look at things. Other people want to have great futures and jobs. They want to have a nice life. I have been fortunate to have a very safe and my family has been great. Some people do not have that. In my opinion, that builds into your final sentence. Giving can be a way to lead someone in the right direction. Maybe your one decision to give and talk to them could be a starting point for something greater. Maybe people will see it and they will want to give too.
      The third step mentioned above is also a very big one for me. Sometimes it is tough to bring our own needs before God. As the post mentioned, God is not too busy for our needs (Long, 2018). That is tough for me. I don’t like to ask for help or talk to really anyone about that kind of thing. But, seeing this post just reaffirms that God is always there for me and already knows my needs as well.

    • Great post Alex I really how you mention each step in your post form realizing that we have need that require each and every day, develop an attitude of thanksgiving, talk to God about our real needs and find away to provide help for others.

    • This week I had an experience that illustrates how God can use others as a means of showing his generosity. I work at a coffee shop and this couple came four days in a row, and I was working there all four days. By the fourth day they knew me pretty well, called me by name and knew what I was doing with my life and my passion for helping others through business (I shared with them my vision of a community development type dream for people that need help). Before they headed out, they told me they were on their way to Chicago, and that they wanted to donate a big amount of money towards my passion. When the gentleman handed me that money, I could feel as if it was almost God himself handing it to me.
      I have been praying for answers about my future for a while. Getting that little push through that donation is the confirmation that I needed from God to start something big. I love the idea of being God’s instruments for helping others. We never know what our next donation will mean to others.

  4. When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray Jesus prayed a prayer that they were to use. This prayer was asking God to give us what we needed and to help us through the day to honor and glorify Him. A simple yet strong prayer. The Bible says that we can bring anything before God but we must go about it the right way. Asking for our daily bread is more than asking for physical food but also spiritual food. Now days we lack spiritual food and it is evident in our lives because we fall short and our actions should match our hearts. Jesus tells us that man can not live on bread alone but man can live on the eternal water and bread of Jesus. The main focus of this prayer is that God’s will is done and not our own. Often times we forget to seek for God’s will and push for our own and this prayer helps us keep our priorities and focus on the right thing which is Jesus. To ask God to give us our daily bread is to ask for His provision over us, because He promises us that He will, but this is keeping us accountable because we know He will provide for us so we continue to ask for His guidance for our lives.

  5. Understanding the passage of the Lord’s prayer is important. This is where Jesus teaches the way a Christian should pray. I found this post on “giving us our daily bread” rather fascinating. When this passage is examined, it is often observed through the lens of current and modern context. As always, scripture and Bible passages should be read through the lens of the original audience. This is where the historical context is critical. When reading this passage, it is important to know how distinct and special this passage is. McKnight points out that this specific Greek word for bread is only used ONCE in ancient literature (p. 181). Jesus is stating with this usage of daily bread that man is not to worry about tomorrow, for God will give man all he will need for today. This passage brings back images to ancient Israel living in the desert. These people were completely reliant on God. If God did not send manna, these people would have died. There is another aspect to this that is important, the fact that man needs to have faith that God will provide their daily needs. Israel did not simply guess and continually question whether God would feed them and fulfill their daily needs. Rather, the people had faith in God and knew that he would provide.

  6. A lot of people really love to just quote Matthew 6:11 as their prayers. To me this was always good and well, but I often felt that like the post above says, a lot of people miss the point of what the prayer is modeling. I feel like anything memorized word for word, soon loses significance and becomes ritualistic. How many people actually still think about the impact of the words that they utter during the pledge of allegiance? The same is true for Matthew 6:11. It is the outline that is really more important. It is all about admitting that we are human and we need the Lords help, that we thank God for what He has seen fit to gift to us, confide our needs in the Lord, and become aware of the needs of those around us. It is more like guidelines than an actual command of how to pray. Prayer is always good as long as it is done with the correct heart.

  7. The whole concept of “our daily bread” has either been misinterpreted as to what it means or made Into one of those cute travel size devotions that are meant to make you feel good about yourself. After reading this article, it just kind of affirmed that it is reliance on God that is our daily bread and that we do that through prayer. Much more than that, those different facets that you discussed in the article are so important and cannot be overlooked. Scot McKnight says that “the NIV’S when you pray is identical to “when you give to the needy”‘ (McKnight, pg.171). It’s kind of equating prayer and the ability that God has given us to act on those prayers. Prayer is great and reliance on God is wonderful, but I cannot help but think that God has provided us with the resources that we need to be consistent in our daily bread or doing things such as helping others.

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