“Give us this day our daily bread.” When I became a Christian and I heard this part of the Lord’s Prayer, it didn’t seem to have any relevance to me. My parents never asked for God’s provision, and we wanted for nothing. I thought of it as a prayer for those who didn’t know where tomorrow’s meal was coming from – a prayer suited to another time and place. I have since learned that this request is just as relevant and important as the other parts of the Lord’s Prayer. If we are accustomed to a life of plenty, why should we ask God to supply our daily bread (daily needs)?
Acknowledgement. Asking God to provide is to acknowledge that He is the source and owner of all provision. The fact that the prayerless live with abundance bears testimony to common grace. He is merciful to those who don’t call upon His name. It reminds us why we should ask – not because if we don’t we will starve, but because it is the right thing to do. Prayer doesn’t earn our provision, but it does point to the One who graciously and abundantly provides. Asking is actually an aspect of worship. It is to draw attention to God’s power and willingness.
Dependence. Asking God to provide is a declaration that our lives are in His hands. We gain an education and we use our skills in order to earn a living, nevertheless, it is God who sends the sun and the rain. It is God who causes the animals to breed and to grow. The fields and the farms deliver crops and herds because that is what God has determined. We can work hard in our various vocations, playing our part in meeting our own needs and the needs of others, yet disease, drought, war, natural disaster, economic failure can easily cause the supply chain to break down.
Humility. Asking God to provide ensures that God is given His rightful place and we assume our rightful place. To build upon the previous points, how readily do we see ourselves as the “bread winners” – we work, we earn, we shop. We live in comfortable homes, we eat well, we wear nice clothes due to our own efforts. Self-sufficiency, presumption and pride set in. To sincerely ask God for what we need is to humble ourselves before Him. Yes we work, but it is God who grants the strength, learning, ability, and employment opportunities to do so. It is God who supplies our needs through our working.
Thanksgiving. Asking God to provide leads to thanksgiving. We acknowledge Him when we ask, and we acknowledge Him with thankfulness when He gives. The two go together. This is especially pertinent when we request things we don’t already have. It is easy to take for granted the provision we are accustomed to and have worked for. But when we have needs that are beyond us and God answers our prayers, surely it moves us to be thankful. We know that the Lord has inclined His ear to us and responded graciously. Ten lepers cried out to Christ for mercy, and they were all consequently healed. What a travesty that only one returned to say thank you. Asking and thanksgiving are the bookends of God’s provision.
It is often said that Christians focus too much upon their own needs and wants while the other elements of prayer are neglected – praise, confession, intercession. Perhaps there is some truth to this, nevertheless, many of the prayers in the Bible are personal requests. We should not be afraid to ask, we should be afraid of falling into presumption and self-sufficiency. Along with all other aspects of prayer, let us ask for our daily bread.