Wednesday, 9 February 2011

'Give us this day our daily bread'

Here we are encouraged to ask our heavenly Father for our daily bread or daily necessities. These would include such things as our food,health, shelter, job etc.All good gifts come from God and we must look to him only for them and acknowledge our daily dependence on him.It is true that God is not only concerned about our spiritual well being but also our physical one.Sadly, extreme ascetics in order to try to get closer to God saw the physical body and natural things as evil. J.I.Packer calls such thinking hypo-spirituality and 'an unspiritual ego trip'.On the other hand an example of how concerned Jesus was about man's basic needs was seen when he fed the 5000 and 4000 during his earthly ministry.


Gregory of Nyssa said...

Give Us this Day our Daily Bread

Bread represents life, and bread is easy to get. Moreover, nature herself gives us something to put on it to make it more tasty. The best thing to eat with bread is the peace of a good conscience. Then the bread is eaten with gusto, because it is being eaten in holiness of life.

But if you want to experience the taste of bread otherwise than in symbolic description, in the physical sense in fact, you have hunger to eat it with. Therefore, first of all, don't eat too much: you would lose your appetite for a long time. And then, let your dinner be preceded by sweat. `In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread,' is the first commandment mentioned in the Scriptures. (Genesis 3:19)

The Lord's Prayer speaks of `daily' bread. In saying that, let us remember that the life in which we ought to be interested is `daily' life. We can, each of us, only call the present time our own. Why should we worry ourselves by thinking about the future?

Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow. It is as if he were to say to us: `He who gives you this day will also give you what you need for this day. He it is who makes the sun to rise. He it is who scatters the darkness of night and reveals to you the rays of the sun.'

John Calvin said...

What mean you by “the daily bread” you ask for?
In general, everything that we need for our body, not only food and clothing, but all that God knows to be expedient for us, that we may be able to eat our bread in peace.

But why do you ask God to give you your food, when He orders us to win it, by working with our hands?
Though He commands us to work for our living, nevertheless it is not our labour, industry, and diligence, that provide us with food, but the blessing of God alone, which makes the labour of our hands to prosper. Moreover we ought to understand that it is not meat that nourishes us, although we have it owing to His command, but the power of the Lord alone who uses it as His instrument (Deut. 8:3, 17).

Why do you call it yours, when you ask God to give it to you?
Because of the kindness of God it becomes ours, though it is by no means due to us. We are also reminded by this not to desire the bread of others, but only that which we acquire by legitimate means, according to the ordinance of God.

Why do you say “daily” and “this day”?
That we may learn to be content, and not to covet more than our need requires.

Since this prayer is common to all, how can the rich, who have an abundance of good things, provide for a long time, ask for bread each day?
The rich, as well as the poor, should understand that none of the things profit them, unless the Lord grant them the use of them, and by His grace make it profitable to them. Thus in having we have nothing, unless He gives it to us.

J.W. said...

Give us - O Father (for we claim nothing of right, but only of thy free mercy) this day - (for we take no thought for the morrow) our daily bread - All things needful for our souls and bodies: not only the meat that perisheth, but the sacramental bread, and thy grace, the food which endureth to everlasting life.

John Chrysostom said...

What is “daily bread”? It is bread for one day.

When Jesus said had said “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” He was discoursing to men encompassed with flesh, and subject to the necessities of nature, and incapable of that same impassibility which belongs to the angels.

Even so, He enjoins the commands to be practised by us also, even as the angels perform them.

He condescends likewise, in what follows, to the infirmity of our nature. Thus He says “I require perfection of conduct, but not freedom from passions, for the tyranny of nature does not permit freedom from passions, but requires necessary food”.

Nevertheless, we should mark how, even in things that are bodily, that which is spiritual abounds.

For it is neither for riches, nor for delicate living, nor for costly raiment, nor for any other such thing, but for bread only, that He has commanded us to make our prayer.

No, he commands us to pray for “daily bread,” so as not to “take thought for the morrow” (Matt. 6:34), specifying “daily bread”, that is, bread for one day.

And not even with this expression is He satisfied, but adds another afterwards, saying “Give us this day”, so that we may not, beyond this, wear ourselves out with the care of the following day.

For why do you submit to the cares of that day when you do not know whether you will see its dawn?

This, as He proceeded, He enjoined also more fully, saying “Take no thought for the morrow.”

He would have us be on every hand unencumbered and winged for flight, yielding just so much to nature as the compulsion of necessity requires of us.

Professor Luther said...

But this petition is especially directed against our chief enemy, the devil. For all his thought and desire is to deprive us of all that we have from God, or to hinder it; and he is not satisfied to obstruct and destroy spiritual government in leading souls astray by his lies and bringing them under his power, but he also prevents and hinders the stability of all government and honorable, peaceable relations on earth. There he causes so much contention, murder, sedition, and war also lightning and hail to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc. In short, he is sorry that any one has a morsel of bread from God and eats it in peace; and if it were in his power, and our prayer (next to God) did not prevent him, we would not keep a straw in the field, a farthing in the house, yea, not even our life for an hour, especially those who have the Word of God and would like to be Christians.

Behold, thus God wishes to indicate to us how He cares for us in all our need, and faithfully provides also for our temporal support. and although He abundantly grants and preserves these things even to the wicked and knaves, yet He wishes that we pray for them, in order that we may recognize that we receive them from His hand, and may feel His paternal goodness toward us therein. For when He withdraws His hand, nothing can prosper nor be maintained in the end, as, indeed, we daily see and experience. How much trouble there is now in the world only on account of bad coin, yea, on account of daily oppression and raising of prices in common trade, bargaining and labor on the part of those who wantonly oppress the poor and deprive them of their daily bread! This we must suffer indeed; but let them take care that they do not lose the common intercession, and beware lest this petition in the Lord's Prayer be against them.

M.L. said...

Here, now, we consider the poor breadbasket, the necessaries of our body and of the temporal life. It is a brief and simple word, but it has a very wide scope. For when you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread and, on the other hand, against everything which interferes with it. Therefore you must open wide and extend your thoughts not only to the oven or the flour-bin but to the distant field and the entire land, which bears and brings to us daily bread and every sort of sustenance. For if God did not cause it to grow, and bless and preserve it in the field, we could never take bread from the oven or have any to set upon the table.
To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the world, because on that account alone do we need daily bread. Now for our life it is not only necessary that our body have food and covering and other necessaries, but also that we spend our days in peace and quiet among the people with whom we live and have intercourse in daily business and conversation and all sorts of doings, in short, whatever pertains both to the domestic and to the neighborly or civil relation and government. For where these two things are hindered [intercepted and disturbed] that they do not prosper as they ought, the necessaries of life also are impeded, so that ultimately life cannot be maintained. And there is, indeed, the greatest need to pray for temporal authority and government, as that by which most of all God preserves to us our daily bread and all the comforts of this life. For though we have received of God all good things in abundance we are not able to retain any of them or use them in security and happiness, if He did not give us a permanent and peaceful government. For where there are dissension, strife, and war, there the daily bread is already taken away, or at least checked.

Therefore it would be very proper to place in the coat-of-arms of every pious prince a loaf of bread instead of a lion, or a wreath of rue, or to stamp it upon the coin, to remind both them and their subjects that by their office we have protection and peace, and that without them we could not eat and retain our daily bread. Therefore they are also worthy of all honor, that we give to them for their office what we ought and can, as to those through whom we enjoy in peace and quietness what we have, because otherwise we would not keep a farthing; and that, in addition, we also pray for them that through them God may bestow on us the more blessing and good.

Let this be a very brief explanation and sketch, showing how far this petition extends through all conditions on earth. Of this any one might indeed make a long prayer, and with many words enumerate all the things that are included therein, as that we pray God to give us food and drink, clothing, house, and home, and health of body; also that He cause the grain and fruits of the field to grow and mature well; furthermore, that He help us at home towards good housekeeping, that He give and preserve to us a godly wife, children, and servants, that He cause our work, trade, or whatever we are engaged in to prosper and succeed, favor us with faithful neighbors and good friends, etc. Likewise, that He give to emperors, kings, and all estates, and especially to the rulers of our country and to all counselors, magistrates, and officers, wisdom, strength, and success that they may govern well and vanquish the Turks and all enemies; to subjects and the common people, obedience, peace, and harmony in their life with one another, and on the other hand, that He would preserve us from all sorts of calamity to body and livelihood, as lightning, hail, fire, flood, poison, pestilence, cattle-plague, war and bloodshed, famine, destructive beasts, wicked men, etc. All this it is well to impress upon the simple, namely, that these things come from God, and must be prayed for by us.