Why He Gives Only Enough For Today
Give us this day our daily bread...
(this is a continuation of our series in the Lord's Prayer)
We have a Father who provides for us
At a glance, this verse is simple, but it reveals several important truths. The first is that we have a Heavenly Father who provides for us. The very fact that we can go to God with a request implies that He cares about our needs. God is not a hard taskmaster who demands from us. God is a Heavenly Father who cares about our needs and gives to us.
Think about it, you can trust that no one loves you more than the one whom you can approach and simply say gimmie it. We see it most evidently in parents. Or in my case, grandparents who do not hesitate to give to the little ones whatever it is their adorable hearts so desire. Likewise, children have no fear or qualms about asking for things and even at times demanding things. If having children of my own has taught me anything, it is that I have no idea just how generous God is.
Jesus once said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” I realised, after becoming a parent, that I merely understood what Jesus was saying at an intellectual level. It wasn’t until I had kids to whom I find myself wanting to lavish with stuff, that this truth hit me. If this was the way I felt toward my children, I can’t begin to imagine what God feels toward His children. When Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer to say give us, it is not a stamp of approval granting us permission to make withdrawals from a heavenly ATM. It is a window into the heart of the one who owns the bank. We have a Heavenly Father who provides for us. Not only that, we have a Heavenly Father who cares about us.
We have a Heavenly Father who cares about us
This sounds exactly like what we said earlier, doesn’t it? But they are not the same thing. Simply providing sustenance to someone does not equate care and love. Any university student receiving Centrelink can attest to this. When we think about Give us this day our daily bread, it is important to remember what it does not say. It does not say give us bread for today and enough for tomorrow as well. The Lord’s Prayer clearly limits us in what we are to ask God for. We do not ask today for what we need tomorrow. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Don’t we all pray about things to come?
Here’s why providing for someone is not the same as caring for someone. Suppose God were to give us everything we would ever need from the moment we first pray to Him, that would be an egregious thing. There will be no real need to pray to God again. More than that, the fact that God so-called rations what we need speaks less of God’s character than it does our nature.
I will readily confess that I’m easily drawn to different things. My heart is like a magnet in a garage. Swing it around and it’ll fly straight to the first shiny thing it sees. Call it human nature if you like, I call it a disaster about to happen. Far from being manipulative, God’s provision day-by-day ensures that I am never so rich that I forget God, but never so poor that I resent Him (Proverbs 30:8; check it out if you haven’t read it before).
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say,“Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
How to pray like this?
Let’s be practical now. What does it mean to pray give us this day our daily bread? Does it mean we shouldn’t pray for our paycheck next week? Or is this just calling us to embody a certain attitude of trust? Is it more in keeping with the Lord’s Prayer when we neglect common sense budgeting and simply live day-by-day? The answer rarely is as simple as dogma demands. But I do think these 3 principles are undeniable.
1. Pray every day
All our theological knowledge will amount to nothing if we neglect a life of daily prayer. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle in this area, we all do! Here’s a tip: make your mealtime prayers longer. If you aren’t in the habit of giving thanks before eating, make it so. If you already do, make them longer. Pray every day.
2. Know that help comes from God
In God’s kindness, He has given us skills and abilities to go about our daily chores. But this gift can so easily lead us into a sinful self-reliant posture. Jesus teaches us to pray Give us bread, not Give us talent and opportunity which combined with our hard work will produce bread. There is a recognition in the Lord’s Prayer that everything comes from God. It is foolishness to think otherwise. Know that help comes from God.
3. Trust that Father knows best
Asking for our daily bread implies that we trust God for tomorrow. But more than simply trusting that God will provide what I need tomorrow, it is trusting that God already knows today what I might need tomorrow. We can’t say what might happen tomorrow, so why presume to know what we might need and ask God for that? Trust that Father knows best.
We hope this has been helpful!