My mother taught me to pray the Lord’s Prayer and at that time she was not a church goer. I am pretty sure she didn’t really understand the prayer. It seems there was a time in Australia when prayer was thought to be something important enough to teach your children and the Lord’s Prayer was a good place to start. It is hardly surprising that the Lord’s Prayer has been so prominent in people’s thinking. When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, the Lord’s Prayer was his answer. It is an extraordinary prayer. It allows intimacy with God, its simplicity masks its fullness and it is so succinct while offering the opportunity for a diversity of prayer requests which includes the provision of our daily bread.
It is a wonderful thing to realise that despite how humanity might treat God, in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches us to ask God to “give us today our daily bread” and Jesus’ expectation is that God will do this. The programme of the Lord’s Prayer might be for God’s Kingdom to come but the programme includes God’s provision of our daily bread.
This is a sensible prayer request that doesn’t pander to our personal kingdoms of greed.
The Substance of the prayer is bread. It is a prayer for everything necessary for the preservation of life including food, clothing and a roof over your head, good government, successful harvests, patience in adversity, forgiveness of our sins, protection against evil and even the bread of hope in the face of death.
The Source of this bread is the God we address as “Our Father”, an intimate parent committed to His children’s welfare.
The Supplication, which is just a big word for “ask” and allows me to keep using the letter “S”, is give. One writer said "The prayer of the Christian is not an attempt to force God's hand but it’s the humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence." To ask God to give is an antidote to self-confidence and a declaration of our faith in an all sufficient God to care for us. No wonder Jesus said “I am the bread of life”. The life, death and resurrection of Christ was the ultimate provision of God the Father for a people helpless without Him. Eat and drink of Jesus and provision for eternal life is given.
Now the Seeker in this prayer is us. “Give us today our daily bread.” The “us” does not refer to everyone because not everyone acknowledges God as their Father but even those who do not acknowledge God receive a benefit from this prayer. The “us” is a relational word that recognises our communion with God as our Father and the community of God’s world-wide family of which we are a part. As such, when we ask for our daily bread, we always ask with others in mind and our asking becomes a blessing.
Just to add one more “S”, I hope you noticed the Schedule of this prayer is today, “Give us today our daily bread.” I come from a long line of worriers and I worry about many things that may not even eventuate. The schedule of this prayer is an encouragement to live by faith in God for today. Jesus said “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches us to meet our daily worries by trusting God the Father to provide what we need for He cares for us.
This article might be more appropriate in a church bulletin but I would hate those outside the church to miss the value of a prayer that once was common knowledge but now forgotten and rarely taught. My mother may not have understood all that the Lord’s Prayer offers us but I hope I may have encouraged some to want to learn this prayer and all of us to value the praying of it.