Give us this day our daily bread

Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

We continue our walk through the Lord’s Prayer this Lenten season and today we are shifting directions slightly as the Lord’s Prayer shifts slightly at this point.  Thus far we have talked about God’s name being kept holy, God’s kingdom coming specifically his reign of Grace, and the will of God.  Today we shift our focus slightly on to things that are more focused the temporal needs as we pray “give us this day our daily bread.”  This is the one petition in the Lord’s Prayer that is dealing with primarily a physical need.  The petition is quick and straight to the point yet covers a multitude of things.  The prayer is not simply for food but rather it is a pray that God would provide all the things that are needed for our physical life TODAY.  I want to stress two things one is that the prayer is that God would provide for our needs that we have today not tomorrow, and it is a prayer for what we need.

In our reading from Matthew today “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?[1] The reading concludes “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.[2] This petition that is prayed in the Lord’s Prayer is not asking for anything more than today’s provisions.  It is not a prayer that is asking God to give so much today that one will never have worry about what they will eat or where they will live ever again.  The prayer is that God would provide for today.  That is not typically how we think in this country which is perhaps the wealthiest country in the history of the world and more specifically it is not generally how most of us think in the culture that we in this congregation find ourselves a part of.  Most people here not all but most people here don’t worry about what they are going to eat today. There may have been a time that some had that fear but I would imagine that not many of us are worried about what we will eat today, and by the way if you are please talk to me and we will make sure you have food to eat.  Most of us don’t probably pray this pray out of need but more out of thanks as we understand that it is God who has provided all that we have today.

The lack of what one might define as urgent need blinds us to what is being asked for in the Lord’s Prayer as well as what is being addressed in our Matthew reading for today.  I talked about how there is not great worry or anxiety about what many of us will eat today, but that does not mean there is not great anxiety about things that we would incorrectly think fall under the category of “daily bread.” Often times we have a misunderstanding of what we need verses what we simply want.  Many of us have been blessed with a home that is much bigger than we actually need.  Many of us have been blessed with a job that provides us with more money than we would actually need which allows many different luxuries to be a part of our lives. I am not going to stand up here and preach the ascetic lifestyle, but I will warn that one begins to enter dangerous territory when they can no longer distinguish between needs and luxuries.  I warn because Jesus warns us often about the dangers of money and great amounts of wealth.  The problem is not the money, but rather our sinfulness that cannot handle what money provides, a worldly security.

For us who have been so blessed by God what are we praying when we speak the words of this petition?  Are we asking for more or are we giving thanks in acknowledgement of who has blessed us?  Would it be helpful not to simply pray give us this day our daily bread, but to pray “Teach us to distinguish what we actually need from what we can do without. Give us today our needed bread, which comes from you and lead us today to give to others what they lack.”[3] For many of us this petition is an invitation for us to repent of our greed and deep desires to acquire more for ourselves and build our own kingdom here on earth which draws us away from seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  Matthew 6:19–21 (ESV) 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our sinfulness tries so hard make greed ok.  I was driving around up in northern Minnesota and I saw a sign for a storage place.  You know the kind when you garage gets to full and you need to put stuff somewhere. This storage place actually used the bible verse that I just read as an advertisement.  They interpreted the verse as you just need to store you stuff in a better way so it doesn’t get destroyed or stolen.  There is a reason Jesus talked about money so often because he knew how problematic it is for those of us who are sinful.

The food we eat, the clothes that we wear, the home we live in are all needs that we have and they are needs that we can go to God about as we pray give us this day our daily bread.  For most people they are needs he has graciously and abundantly provided for.  As we examine our own lives let us take the words of Jesus to heart Matthew 6:33 (ESV) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. God has provided all we need in the person and work of Jesus Christ and even if that is all one had they would be set for all eternity.  Yet for many of us God has also blessed us with blessings in this world.  We must never allow the small blessings of house, food, clothes, and the like take our focus of Jesus.  When our focus stays on Jesus with the understanding that he gives us all that we have most importantly His righteousness we then will not be blinded by the god of mammon/money/stuff.

[1] Matthew 6:25 (ESV)

[2] Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

[3] Gibbs, J. (2006). Matthew 1:1-11:1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. (335).

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