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“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. )
The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is about Thou-Petitions and the second part of it is about We- Petitions. The first three petitions in the Greek words are clearly indicated, “Thy name,” “Thy kingdom” and “Thy will,” focused on the thou-petitions. In contrast, the petitions of the second part, “our daily bread,” “our debts” and “lead us not into temptation” are related to us. The word “we” in Greek is repeated eight times in the second half of the Lord’s Prayer. It means that the second part of the Lord’s Prayer is closely related to us. The three petitions of the first part are the petitions that the creature gives to the Creator. However, the petitions of the second part of the Lord’s Prayer are for sinners’ petitions for themselves. There seems to be four petitions that are related to us. We can see that these petitions indicate the Trinity. “Daily bread,” can be provided by the grace of God the Father. “Our debts” can be forgiven through the Mediator, the Son of God. “Lead us not into temptation,” shows we can be protected from temptations by the gracious work of the Holy Spirit and overcome Satan by the work of the Holy Spirit. The three petitions of the second part request for daily bread for our physical life, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil in our holy spiritual life. These petitions parallell the sermon on the mountain, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” (Matthew 6:33). The fourth petition can be called “interim prayer” because it is a prayer between the glory that has already been given to God and our petition that has not yet been done that we are waiting for. I have finished the first three petitions and will start to discuss the fourth petition that is related to us.
I would like to see the definition of Westminster Confession of Faith of the fourth petition. “What do we ask for in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer? The fourth prayer of the Lord’s Prayer is “give us this day our daily bread.” God gives us good things that satisfy us and many in the world, by means of grace and life under his blessings.” We now are going to discuss about the fourth petition while we recognize that our spiritual life, rather than our physical life is our primary concern.
1. “Our daily bread” why does this prayer come first and our prayer for spiritual well being follow follow?
Matthew Henry explained the reason that the We-Petition comes first. He said, “It is because our natural needs are necessary for our spiritual happiness on earth. So after we pray for the glory and
Jesus taught us that even though we pray for our earthly needs, not to pray a prayer that is self-centered and for earthly things only. We can see this in his teaching of “first ask for his kingdom and righteousness.” If we pray according to the way that Jesus taught, God will give us our earthly needs. We should notice that when Jesus taught us to ask first for his kingdom and his righteousness, he means for us not to be servant who worry about their needs. However, it does not mean to not pray for our earthly needs. We often pray for idealistic things rather than praying for realistic and practical things because of our misunderstanding. Jesus put first the petition for our daily bread. It is
because Jesus himself experienced the needs of food, drink, and finance as a human being, that he can relate to our physical needs. If we have enough food and drink, we will forget how important it is to have food and drink. That is, we do not experience that food and drink are our life itself. But Jesus knew our weakness and he honestly taught us to ask for our daily food to help us. We know the importance of our spirit because we physically live and also know the importance of our spiritual life because we have our physically life satisfied. Therefore it is very important for us to ask first for the food.
2. What does “This day” mean in the fourth petition?
The Greek words for this day are shmeron (today) an adverb in Matthew and kaqhmeron (each day) in Luke 11:3. Each day or every day is actually repeating today. So, it means every day and today, a daily life. Yesterday is past today is now and tomorrow is the future coming today. There are some lessons about the importance of today in the Scriptures. The time of salvation is today. Jesus taught that today is very important time for salvation, Jesus answered one of the robbers on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43) and Jesus said to Zacchaeus “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham,” (Luke 19:9). A Christian should live a completed life today. So, even if the Lord calls us today, we can stand before the Lord confidently. God said, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” in Luke . Today could be the last day for us to live on earth. If it is, we would not need today anymore. God fed the Israelites in the wilderness with Manna day by day (Exo. -20). The daily Manna was used on that day (today). So if someone asked, “what can we eat for breakfast?” they would respond, “our concern is only for today. God provided Manna that we need today. If we have bread to eat for today, do not be ungrateful for God’s provision.” BeingConcerned about tomorrow is unbelieving. Manna for Christians is for today who do not worry about tomorrow. Those who worry about daily food, clothes and houses should remember the words that are related to the fourth petition, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew ).
3. What does “Us” mean in the fourth petition?
As I have mentioned in my introduction, there are no singular personal pronouns in the Lord’s Prayer, but the plural “us;” our father, our daily bread, forgive our debts, our debtors and lead us not into temptation. These prayers constitute prayers both for our needs and for others. We pray with a self-centered mind, “I am,” “for me” and “of me.” On the other hand, the Lord’s Prayer leads us not to pray the self-centered prayers. In the second half of the Lord’s Prayer, we can find the word, “us” eight times. Why do we have to pray, “Give us?” It shows that we need to prayer not only for ourselves, but also for others.
When David prayed, he had a fair mind. He said, that “Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart,” (Psalm 125:4). He started his Psalm with the words “Lord, have mercy on me” those were forced on himself. However, he finished his Psalm with the prayer for others. The apostles’ prayers in the book of Acts also have a fair mind, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness,” (Acts ). Jesus prayed for the public people with a public mind. A good Christian ought to love his neighbours as himself. So he needs to pray for them. He would pray for the poor and need that God will bless them and provide their needs. We particularly ought to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, “be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Jesus lived for us and prayed his last prayer for us on the cross, “Father forgive them (this includes us).” The meaning of the word, “us” in the fourth petition, changes those who are self-centered to these of an unselfish person. It also changes them to provide needs for others like living water and illuminating others as is the sun. A prayer that is not self-centered is his and it surrenders the
4. What does “daily bread” mean?
The Greek word for daily is epiousious. This word only appears in the Lord’ s Prayer in the New Testament. So it is hard to interpret it. It sometimes causes a confusion of understanding the Lord’s Prayer. I would like to introduce these two following views. First, the word epiousious consists of a prefix, epi (above, up) + ousious (existence, essence). It means necessary for existence. Second, it consists of prefix epi + ousan=hmeran (day). It means for the current day, today. I think it is most appropriate to understand the word as bread for today and existence, that is, bread to live. Regarding the time, it is not tomorrow or coming future, but today. Regarding bread and its quantity, it is just enough to live on. The word, “yang-sik (bread) in the Revised Korean Bible was translated from the Greek word, artot. These are a few different translation of the Greek word, ton arton hmwn (our daily bread).
First, it means physical food that our body needs. Calvin and Luther agree with this view. Luther translated this in general terms as everything we need for our earthly physical life such as food, clothes, home, property, cattle, money, other objects, spouse, children, labours, honourable and faithful leaders, good government, proper weather, peace, public order, health, honour, good friend and faithful neighbours. The Korean Bible translated the word, artot as bread. It means, in general not only all vegetables, but also material things that we need to live. In this fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus who had experienced earthly life showed that he was really concerned about our daily life and just enough food for our lives is a necessary matter rather than a luxuriouses matter.
Second, some translate daily bread as the Last Supper (John -35). This bread relates to the body of Christ [“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John )]. So, it is a prayer of Sacrament. The early church daily used this prayer for daily communion. The
Third, some translated as bread of heaven. “…Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the
Fourth, Jesus Christ translated as living bread. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty’” (John ). Jesus mentioned himself as the bread. This living bread is also translated as the Word of God.
In summary, daily bread is both earthly and spiritual food. Our earthly food helps us to maintain our life. There are two lives the physical life and spiritual life. We have to ask for physical food and spiritual food. So “daily bread” means physical food in a sense and spiritual food a sense. We ask for both when we pray this prayer.
5. What does “give” mean in the fourth petition?
The Lord’s Prayer, both in Matthew and Luke, in Korean version used the same verb, “jo-ob-so-soh.” However, the Greek Bible used different words, Matthew used the word, dos and Luke used didou. dos is a past simple participle of the word didwmu(give) and means an action that happens only once. On the other hand, the word that was used in Luke is the present participle and means an action that happens repeatedly. These two words harmonize with adverbs, shmeron and kaqhmeron that relate to the verb “give.” Matthew implys that asking for daily food day by day. This part of the Lord’s Prayer assures that God has the ability to give us food today.
1) God is pleased to give today and daily. “I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10).
2) God wants to give power and salvation today and daily. “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1).
3) God wants to hold those who want to live righteous today and daily. “Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand” (Ps. 37:24).
4) God wants to help his people today and daily. “But you, O LORD, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them” (Psalm 41:10).
5) God wants to lift up his humble people today and daily. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
6) God wants to give daily food for his people today and daily. “These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things” (Psalm 104:27-28).
From the word, “give” we can interpret those good things in this world as gifts from God. He is the Founder and the Giver. It is right to ask for our present needs. So we should ask daily and today for our daily needs. When we ask for our daily needs we should ask not only for our needs, “give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8), but also for other needs too. This prayer can be an unselfish prayer that we can say for the poor, for the need and for other believers in our prayer life.
6. Why do we have to pray, “give us this day our daily bread?”
1) Even though we have enough for today, it is appropriate for us to ask daily. If God takes away his blessings, things we have abundantly can suddenly be disappear. For example, if there are fires or natural disasters, things can turn to ashes.
2) We acknowledge that things we have today come from God. “These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time” (Psalm 104:27).
3) Although we get many things today and daily through our labours or buying and selling, it is God who give us the ability to work.
4) We cannot live on if God does not give us healthy bodies. We need God’s blessings on our bodis today and daily.
5) No one knows what is going to happen today and daily. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
6) We need to confess that we are not going to worry about tomorrow because we ought to overcome all concerns about the future. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew ).
7) If God does not bless us, today and daily, things we have are useless. “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).
8) We learn through the prayer today and daily how to pray unselfish prayers.
9) We ask for our natural needs today and daily because we need them for our spiritual happiness.
5) God the Father is the only one who knows exactly what we need today and daily.
7.Does “Give us this day our daily bread” teach us that we do not need to prepare for our future?
Is it unbiblical for us to prepare for our future?
It is right for us to use things that we have wisely and save them for our descendants. It does not mean we have to trouble ourselves to save a lot of money when we are not able to do so. However, it is not wrong for us to save for the future. David saved things that were needed to build the temple. “With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God” (1 Chronicles 29:2). When Paul was visiting churches, he asked them to donate money for him. “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised” (2 Corinthians 9:5). It is biblical to gather offerings and personal materials for the future. However, gathering them for personal desires is like sawing evil seeds and nourishing them. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). We should ask for our material needs through the essence of the Prayer. When we ask for these needs God leads us into good ways. Where there are good employers and employees, the answer of the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread will be given to those who pray.
8. We ought to pray the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” with thankful confessions.
There is a power of faith to make us be thankful for God in this prayer.
We should give thanks to God for daily bread that he has provided for us. God gives us material things and he expects us to give thanks to him (Prov. 3:9). There is no pride (Prov. 30:9) in our true thanks. Those who ask for daily bread pray like this. “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8). Proud men never give thanks. Pride blocks the flow of thanks. Proud men can be proud of their abilities and think they earned their daily bread. God will give things what we need including even small things when we ask him “give us” his gifts. So, when we give thanks and praise him through this prayer, we can understand the true meaning of the prayer.
There are papers and a famous picture of Rembrandt’s on my desk. The picture is about an old man with work clothes on and gray beard. He is sitting and praying at his table with a piece of bread and a bowl of soup. His hands were up together and his forehead is on his hands and his elbows are on the table. It is rather a holy pose. It was known as a picture resembling Jesus’ prayer before eating. When we consider this picture, how is our own prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread?” On my survey paper, 67.2% of the participants responded that when they pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” they believe that God will provide their needs and 32.8% responded they do not. According to this survey result, 3 to 4 out of 10 can be negative. I hope these 3 to 4 people, when they read this book, will turn to believe that God will provide their needs. If we pray with some wrong attitudes, I advise that we correct our attitudes as James said, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Daily bread is our needs for life. God is the original provider. Our request for the bread is “give us.” Who are seekers? They are us. When do we ask. It is today. As Matthew wrote, we pray this prayer today and as Luke wrote we pray this prayer daily. It has been known that the saints of the early church prayed Matthew’s Lord’s Prayer in the morning and Luke’s in the evening. This prayer starts with personal unselfish prayer and extends to the family worship. When we pray for the whole worlds needs as we can know all our prayers will be answered.
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