“Asking the Father for Daily Bread”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Matthew 6.11
Matthew 6. In our house, we bake bread 3-4 times per week. It’s very predictable. My wife or one of the girls goes to the pantry, pulls out the flour and other ingredients. And they put it in the bread maker and hit “start.” Needless to say, it hasn’t always been that easy in the history of the world. George Mueller, whose milk and bread story I mentioned a couple of years ago, bears repeating for those who haven’t heard it.
George Müller was a 19th century Christian in England. He is known for having directed orphanages in Bristol England. He cared for over 10,000 orphans in his life and established 117 schools offering Christian education to over 120,000 children.
He did all of this, by the same grace of God you have access to, while never asking a dime from man. But the life of Müller and his orphans wasn’t exactly predictable. They truly relied on God in prayer.
What is probably the best known incident in the life of George Müller is mentioned in a biographical sketch called ‘The Adventures of Sister Abigail.’
Early one morning Abigail was playing in Mr. Müller’s garden at the orphanage. Mr. Müller took her hand, saying, ‘Come, see what our Father will do,’ and he led her into the long dinning room. The plates and cups were on the table. But there was nothing but empty dishes. There was no food and no money to supply the needs.
The children were all standing there waiting for their morning meal, when Mr. Müller said, ‘Children, you know we must be in time for school.’ Then lifting his hand, said ‘Dear Father we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.’ A knock at the door was heard. The Baker stood there, and said, ‘Mr. Müller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Some how I felt that you didn’t have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at two o’ clock and in the kitchen baked some fresh bread and have brought it.’
George Müller thanked the man and praised God for His care, then said, ‘Children, we not only have bread, but a rare treat of fresh bread.’ No sooner had he said this then there came a second knock at the door. This time it was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down in front of the orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk, so that he could empty his wagon and repair it.”
“Come, see what our Father will do,” Mr. Müller says. That’s an invitation to all of us, an invitation to pray this 4th petition in the Lord’s prayer… Matthew 6:11 11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
Pray that and see what our gracious Father will do!
Order of the prayer
As we begin this morning, notice the order of the Lord’s prayer. First in verse 9, our Lord tells us to pray to our Father in heaven and then asks that the Father’s name be hallowed, that He be honoured. In our lives, family, church, and in our community and world.
Second, verse 10, we’re to pray that His kingdom would come, that He’d rule and reign deeper in hearts and that He’d send His Son to rule on the earth. Third, we’re to pray that His will be done; that what He desires would be accomplished: in my growth in Christ, in others’ salvation, various things… and that my will would match His! “Your will!” Then v.11 our bread and then the spiritual requests of forgiveness and temptation. Food isn’t last! Plus, it actually made Jesus’ prayer list!
APP: We learn from the order is that we should not rush into God’s presence and request our needs. It is good for you to first consider His glory and honor, His rule and His will, before petitioning God for your needs.
But as well we learn that we should not neglect to ask for what we need.
And look at where asking for our daily bread occurs in the prayer. It is sandwiched between the will of God and our need for forgiveness. As all these requests are, this request is important to pray!
To be frank, perhaps you’re like me…. I tend to neglect this one, why, I’ not sure. Perhaps I think myself too spiritual, which would be proud and evil. Perhaps, I think I shouldn’t bother the Creator and Sustainer of the universe with my trivial needs.
I’m not the only one. Many figures in church history have had a distaste for this referring to literal food. And so they spiritualize it to refer to Jesus as the bread of heaven…. “Give us Jesus every day”…. Or they make it refer to spiritual food for our spirits. “Feed us with the bread of the word.”
But physical food is not bad! Our emotional aversion to asking our Father for little things doesn’t need to guide our interpretation of the passage. Our bodies are not bad and we shouldn’t think of eating as an evil necessity. Our Father knows that we are material and are in need of material things. Material things aren’t bad!
Look, our Father created the physical as well as the spiritual. In six days God created the heavens and the earth. God made Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from his side. And God placed them … in a garden. Why? To grow food! And our Father continues to sustain creation, the physical world. He causes the crops to grow and the livestock to flourish. He made it very good! When Jesus came to earth, He literally and miraculously fed the hungry and healed the sick. His was not just a spiritual ministry.
And when we think of the Lord’s work in redemption, it is not simply a redemption of our spirits. It is a redemption of the body as well. Romans 8:23 teaches that when our adoption is fully realized and we receive our inheritance, it will include “the redemption of the body.”
All creation groans anxiously longing for the revealing of the sons of God. This creation will be redeemed. But when the Lord melts this universe with a fervent heat, we’ll still live in a physical universe for eternity, the new universe and new earth.
So, the physical is not only not bad, but when he created it it was very good! Praying this prayer for our daily bread, therefore, is good and well-pleasing to our Father in heaven.
TRANS: This prayer shows us 3 things. First, dependence (give us). Second, it shows us the provision which are physical necessities, like bread. And third, we learn contentment in the timing (this day, daily). Dependence, provision, and contentment. First, dependence.
Dependence: Give us “Give us”…
Shows that our Father is good and that He does give…
Our Father gives that’s why we can pray, “Give us.”
He gave the Israelites a good land in which flowed, what? Do you remember? Milk and honey!
And Deuteronomy 8:10 says “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.
And our Father gives without tiring
He gives and it does not tire him. Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.” He gives, and gives!
In Fact, our Father delights in giving: more than any human father, He delights in “giving good things to those who ask.”
He even delights in giving to His enemies. He causes His sun and rain to fall on those who blaspheme His name, making their crops grow too.
Psalm 136:1 1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
He delights in continuously giving good things.
James 1:17 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Just like those stars constantly stream down light, so also our Father who made those lights, constantly gives.
TRANS: He is good to give! And as we ask for physical things from our Father, it shows our dependence on Him.
Shows our dependence on God
We are dependent on Him to give us what we need.
When Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Satan tempts him to command that stones become bread. Jesus then quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
It’s not that I live because of the bread I eat; it’s that God wills that I have bread. He’s the source of my existence. I live because of what proceeds from His mouth.
ILL: And so maybe another reason, perhaps the primary reason, why I have failed to make this prayer a priority is because I have come to trust in my life situation and societal structures in order to provide for me.
I trust in the pathways of God’s provision rather than in the One who created those pathways to provide for me. As Habakkuk 1:16 says, which refers to the professional fishermen 16 … they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net because through these things their catch is large, and their food is plentiful.”
But we would scoff at such a thought: pagans bowing down to their fishing nets to praise it for providing food!
But what of us today? Am I any better if I fail to express my dependence on my gracious Father by asking, “Give us this day our daily bread?”
Or as Paul asks the Corinthians…
1 Corinthians 4:7 7 …What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
God is the source of all good things; depend on Him by asking Him for your physical necessities. You say, “But I do depend on Him.” Express that dependence on Him. He wants you to express that dependence on Him for daily food.
How many of us have seen what our Father in heaven can do when He answers our prayers not jut in the spiritual realm, but in providing for us physically. You had a specific request and He answered it: food, clothing, bills, emergencies. You too can “Come and see what our Father will do” as you depend on Him for physical necessities.
TRANS: But we need to express our dependence on our Father as a community.
Shows our dependence on God as community
Again, Jesus teaches us to pray, “give us.” In other words, “Father, please provide for us.” We are to depend upon the Lord as a community.
1. We operate as a community.
The early church was operating as a community of believers. Acts 6 describes a time when the disciples were increasing and there was a complaint about how certain widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. And as a community, they organized how best to meet that need.
APP: If there are folks in our midst especially who are in physical need, we as a community of God’s people, attempt to meet that need. We are to operate as a community because…
2. God provides for us as a community.
“Father, give us!” When one is lacking, the Father provides what is needed to the community of believers, the church. The Father provided for Mueller’s children as a community.
We do not operate in our own sphere. We are not to look out for our interests only. If we have the attitude of … “If I have daily bread, it doesn’t matter if my brother is without.” Would you pray for others that the Lord would provide for them, too? That is the design of the prayer, “Father, give us!”
TRANS: And we’re trusting the Father to send us “bread.” “Give us bread!” This is our Father’s provision.
Provision: Needs (Bread)
Of course, we don’t want to take this literally to the point where we only trust God for a certain kind of carbohydrate, namely, bread. Because the Lord knows that eating only bread would cause organ failure, due to amino acid deficiency, and scurvy, due to a lack of vitamin C. Both result in death. So clearly, the Lord does not want us to only ask for bread.
In the ancient world… And in the not too ancient world, food was always prepared daily. If you do not have food to prepare that day, you did not eat. The focus in our passage becomes this: what I need to physically exist. I’m to ask for physical things that are sufficient for me.
Bread: Needs, no matter how small
But this prayer also shows me that I can ask for things no matter how small. Even my bread!
ILL: My kids ask me for small things all the time. “Dad, please pass the ketchup.” “Dad, can you open this?” “Dad … are we there yet?” “Dad, can you wipe the marker off my face?” Small things. I give to them; how much more does our Father in heaven give good things?
ILL: Jesus multiplied the loaves … not once, but twice for people who hadn’t had their supper… He cares about the little things.
APP: But of course this would apply to more than just bread. Anything that I need no matter how small, I can ask for it. It’s not that you ask for all the things that you see in the mall or online “Oh, give me that and that and that!”… Are we being covetous in our praying? If it’s simple, if it’s necessary…, I should pray for it.
APP: Jesus wants you to pay your bills. He knows about that emergency you had. But can I pray “give us this day our daily bread” … If I am seeking extravagance, and superabundance? Praying this keeps me humble, and sets my sight on things necessary, not on the extravagance of the world. You’ve been praying for this need to be met, but you spend money like you drink water. I daresay that if you pray “give us this day our daily bread” … it would help you stop spending money on things you don’t need.
TRANS: But how discontent we are! How worried we are about tomorrow! And that’s why we should pray this prayer: we learn contentment in the timing.”Give us this day our daily bread.”
Timing: this day, daily, today, for tomorrow
The Greek word translated “daily” is very difficult to translate because it only occurs in the Lord’s prayer here in Matthew 6 as well as the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11… And not outside of the New Testament, at all. This is why the phrase “our daily bread” has been one of the most discussed phrases of the New Testament.
Even the early church fathers, who spoke Greek, disagreed as to its meaning. “Day by day”, “daily,” and “for tomorrow” have each been suggested. The translators of the New American Standard have “our bread for tomorrow” in the margin. “Give us this day our bread for tomorrow.”
Our dependence on the LORD plus the timing expressed here teaches us not to worry! Sometimes our all-knowing Father waits until the last minute. Food for tomorrow asked for today. Why? Because you don’t have it and you need it tomorrow! Now, but don’t you worry!
Shows not to worry:
Dependently praying this to the Lord will help with anxiety and worry about material things. The birds don’t sow or reap or have barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are worth much more than the birds!
God cares about what you eat, what you wear, and what you live in.
Do you not think He knows about your house payment? Or that you need a new appliance? Or that you have a dental bill? Insurance, repairs, emergency expenses, saving for college… Your heavenly Father knows what you need. You need not worry; just pray to our gracious Father “Give us.”
TRANS: Praying this helps us not to worry nor to be anxious, and praying “give us this day our daily bread” helps us also to be content. Be content, trusting in Him!
Help us to be content
Proverbs 30:8 Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion.” Just give me what I’m supposed to have.
Paul says to Timothy…1 Timothy 6:8 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
What is your focus in life? Regarding physical and material possessions and necessities, does the Lord want you to pray beyond what you actually need?
Are you desiring to be rich in this life? 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
How about praying for and being content with food, clothing, and shelter?
We should be praying this… And not just in emergencies. The indication is we pray this daily. “Give us this day.” That is a prayer for a day whenever it is called “this day.”
But many of us are not praying for daily bread. We are not praying for our material necessities. If we’re praying about food at all, we’re praying that we wouldn’t eat what He has already provided!
But in failing to pray for daily bread, we fail to depend on the Lord for His provisions. Our wealth and affluence have distracted us from our dependence upon the Lord and we come to expect, rather than be dependent.
This generation of Christians needs to get back to praying this and then watch what our heavenly Father will do!
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Matthew 6.11
And as we do get back to praying this, let us never forget the character of the One who calls upon us to pray it.
As somebody observed…His all seeing eye observes in its boundless reach the first day of creation and the last hour of judgment. The power of his word has placed in motion the furthest star and his outstretched foot rests on the earth. His loving embrace enfolds each ocean, island, and continent. And all authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto him.
He receives the praise of angels and dwells in the high and lofty place, but in His infinite capacity He occupies himself with the details of our physical existence. Does Jesus care? I know He cares. Does my Father care? He certainly does.
And the day is coming when in glory, He’ll provide for us all the delights for which we could ever ask. There is coming the marriage supper of the Lamb, when all the redeemed shall gather in glory and rejoice and feast together.
After the marriage supper and after the Millenium, in the new heaven and the new earth, there is also the tree of life that has 12 kinds of fruit. And the leaves of that tree are for the healing of the nations.
And we will see His face and His name will be on our foreheads and He will enlighten that new universe with His own glory.
And why the tree of life with 12 kinds of fruit if we were not permitted, yea, commanded to eat! For Jesus himself, after he was raised from the dead in his glorified body, ate fish and honeycomb. Eating isn’t just here and now; but will be an everlasting experience. If you don’t like to eat, you need to repent! God made you that way and he’ll remake you that way in the future.
I close with another account of the life of George Muller, this time from his diary, so that you may be encouraged to pray this way…
November 27th, 1831 Lord’s Day. Our money had been reduced to 2 [pence, which is about a penny].; our bread was hardly enough for this day. I had several times brought our need before the Lord. After dinner, when I returned thanks, I asked Him to give us our daily bread, meaning literally that He would send us bread for the evening. Whilst I was praying, there was a knock at the door of the room. After I had concluded, a poor sister came in and brought us some of her dinner, and from another poor sister 5s. In the afternoon she also brought us a large loaf. Thus the Lord not only literally gave us bread, but also money. After we had, on December 31st, 1831, looked over the Lord’s gracious dealings with us during the past year, in providing for all our temporal wants, we had about 10s. left. A little while after, the providence of God called for that, so that not a single farthing remained. Thus we closed the old year, in which the Lord had been so gracious in giving to us, without our asking anyone, altogether, £131 18s. 8d. There had been likewise many articles of provision and some articles of clothing given to us, worth at least £20. I am so particular in mentioning these things to show that we are never losers by acting according to the mind of the Lord. For had I had my regular salary, humanly speaking, I should not have had nearly as much; but whether this would have been the case or not, this is plain: that I have not served a hard Master, and that is what I delight to show. For, to speak well of His name, that thus my beloved fellow-pilgrims who may read this may be encouraged to trust in Him, is the chief purpose of my writing.”
Pray this week, “give us today our bread for tomorrow” and “Come, see what our Father will do,”
457 Day by Day