Q. What does the fourth petition mean?
A. “Give us this day our daily bread” means: Do take care of all our physical needs (1) so that we come to know that you are the only source of everything good (2), and that neither our work and worry nor your gifts can do us any good without your blessing (3). And so help us to give up our trust in creatures and trust in you alone (4).
Read: (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; 1 Cor. 15:58; (4) Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5-6.
When you read The Bible, have you noticed how many times Jesus says: “the Kingdom of Heaven is not like this but like that”. We have so many ideas of what the Kingdom should be like that we have to learn what God says about His Kingdom so that our ideas can match reality. It is like this with the petition for daily bread. Let’s see what we think it should be in reality and what God means by studying question 124 of The Heidelberg Catechism.
In our day in age, we take bread for granted. But sister in Biblical times bread was not simply bought in a grocery store. Bread started as a wheat seed that needed fertile land to be planted in and needed to be watered by rain. It was a fragile seed that also needed sun for growth and in it’s due time would give enough grain to then be milled and then knead into loaves so that the family could eat. Having bread at ones table required faith every step of the way. It was a constant reminder that God, and not them, was the One who was going to supply. Just like it was with the mana, they didn’t have any guarantee of tomorrow’s bread. They needed to pray and be faithful with what they did have every single day. And so God supplied what they needed how they needed according to His will and in many cases, through His people.
But bread was more than merely satisfying physical needs. God was calling them to seek spiritual food. Because just as it was with Israel, we don’t have todays food guaranteed. In fact, many will die of hunger today. Many brothers and sisters live in need of bread today (and it is our duty and privilege to do something about this- but that’s a different article). So bread has to be more than physical bread.
In John 6:35, Jesus says that He is the bread of life and “whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” What Jesus is saying is that He is our sustenance for spiritual life. That His bread is eternal life and that in Him we can find satisfaction. Temporary food is needed for our physical survival but if we were to die, there is nothing but Jesus that will sustain our eternity. He is the bread of the Presence (Lc. 21:6-8). In Him we can stay permanently in God’s presence and that is what we should look for even more than physical bread.
I don’t want to oversimplify our needs. I know that many of you dear sisters are looking to God for sustenance. I know that many of you are in real need for bread. And I know that God can provide for those needs…but as you wait, may you find the bread of life in Him so that in the life to come, you may have no more want.