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More Than Just Bread

When I first joined the Navy and went to boot camp, one of the things that the drill instructors would regularly threaten us with was being put on bread and water rations for three days. That may not seem all that bad at first, but there are quite a few side effects from eating just bread. I am not going to go over all of them, but suffice it to say, it would not be a pleasant experience, especially if you are working a lot and burning a lot of calories. Bread by itself for an extended period of time is not a good thing. But bread is something extraordinary. I love the smell of fresh bread being baked in the morning, even though it does not happen very often. The point I am making here is that while bread is fantastic, too much of it is not a good thing. As we think about the Lord's Prayer what we are asking for and acknowledging, we come to the fourth petition of the prayer. We ask that the Lord give us our daily bread. Since we do not really want bread alone, what exactly are we asking for here?

Question #125

In the example of how we are to pray, no aspect of life and our relation to God is left out. When we come to the fourth petition, we ask about our bodily needs. The Catechism states:

Give us this day our daily bread. That is: Provide us with all our bodily needs[1] so that we may acknowledge that Thou art the only fountain of all good,[2] and that our care and labor, and also Thy gifts, cannot do us any good without Thy blessing.[3] Grant, therefore, that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures and place it only in Thee.[4]

The prayer for daily bread is fairly encompassing. The passage of the Lord's prayer comes not long after Jesus's temptation in the wilderness, where Jesus quotes Deuteronomy to say that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). We see this idea reflected in the catechism. We ask for all that our bodies need. We ask that God would care for us as he knows best. To continually provide for us. But this is not just physical bread, but the bread of life. In John, we see that Jesus is the bread of life. We all know that we need food to live, and so we ask for food to get through the day, but we also need spiritual bread that leads to eternal life.

Dependence and Trust

One of the central elements is dependence and trust. In prayer, we show that we are in need. When we pray for bread, we acknowledge that God is our provider and the one who gives us every gift. More than that, we need to understand that even the gifts of God cannot do us good without God's blessing. The prayer for bread acknowledges more personally our dependence upon God for everything. When we pray for God's name to be hallowed or for his kingdom to come and his will to be done, the idea of God's glory is so much greater than we are that it can be easy to get lost in it. But when we pray for daily bread, we bring everything down to the personal level. We are confronted with the reality that God, because he is great and because his will is done on earth as it is in heaven, we have food to eat. More than that, when we pray for daily bread, we are praying that we are continually reminded of our dependence on God. Like the man in Proverbs 30, we ask neither for riches nor poverty. We pray, "feed me 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." (Proverbs 30:8-9)


If there is one thing that is true of our sinful nature, it is that we are constantly forgetting to give thanks for what God has given us. As we pray for our daily bread, let us not forget to give thanks for what he has given to us. In our abundance, give thanks that we have extra to share, and in our poverty, give thanks that we are reminded of our need for our creator. Let us pray for our daily bread. Not just for what we eat each day but the bread of life. It is ours in Christ Jesus. He is the bread of life. The bread that nourishes without end. We are dependent creatures. Without God's provision, we would not make it another minute, let alone another day. So pray for God to provide as he sees fit. And if in his wisdom he chooses that we should not have something, let us give thanks for him drawing us closer to him. We need to be like Paul, who was able to say, "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:12-13)

Soli Deo Gloria

[1] Ps. 104:27-30; 145:15, 16; Matt. 6:25-34. [2] Acts 14:17; 17:25; James 1:17. [3] Deut. 8:3; Ps. 37:16; 127:1, 2; I Cor. 15:58. [4] Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5, 6.

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