FOCUSING ON DAILY NEEDS AND SHARING WITH OTHERS ARE KEYS TO CONTENTMENT: A REFLECTION ON THE LORD’S PRAYER

The Lord’s Prayer is known as the paradigm of Christian prayer. It begins by addressing God as “Our Father.” It is an invitation for all of us to implore the Divine life to share in our lives and in the world. Jesus wants His followers to see themselves as loving children of God. He invites us, as brothers and sisters, to share with His intimate, familial relationship with God, our loving Father, and Creator.

The Lord’s Prayer is made up of many components that include praise, thanksgiving, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, guidance, and petition. The part of the petition is intended to ask God to sustain our physical nourishment, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

These words are meaningful for the disciples because they came from a culture that relied on God for their daily sustenance. When Jesus mentioned this part, they might have been reminded of the days when God delivered their ancestors from the bondage of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. God provided them bread, as manna from Heaven for forty years in the desert. God also assured them of protection and love.

Daily bread does not only refer to the food that we eat every day.  It also includes everything that has to do with provisions that support a person to flourish and to thrive. These include drink, clothing, home, land, animals, money, goods, relationships, family, friends, work, weather, peace, health and much more. If you notice, there are several necessary ingredients to bake the bread that we ask from the Lord.

The bread is meant to be shared. It is not intended for only one person. This is not only for you or for me. It is for everybody, as it says, “Give US this day our daily bread.” We are also called to be mindful of those who are part of the “us” who are struggling to have their daily bread.[1]

Jesus reminds us by using “us” and “our” in the Lord’s Prayer that it is important to work together to meet our needs. Jesus makes sure that we stay attentive to our neighbor’s needs and not just our own. We are also reminded that God uses each one of us to have an active part in responding to the prayers and needs of others. Each one of us is empowered by God to become a source of bread for others.

To those who are reading this article, I am quite certain with God’s grace that we are able to meet our needs today.  However, that’s not the way for hundreds of thousands of people who are still experiencing tremendous hunger, homelessness, isolation, and loneliness.  The Lord’s Prayer is meant to help us foster compassion and solidarity for those who are hungry. We are asked to share our bread so that others may eat. The bread we received is not only intended for our own satisfaction.

Moses instructed the people to gather just enough manna for each person daily. When some of the people tried to save extra just for themselves, it became wormy and spoiled. Manna appeared for six days in a row weekly. It did not appear on the Sabbath day. Only the portion that they saved for the Sabbath did not spoil.[2]

Jesus put emphasis on bread for this day by saying, “Give us this DAY our DAILY bread.” The bread we ask for is not the bread for tomorrow, nor the bread for next year nor for the next five years.  Jesus taught us to ask for bread for today, this day.

It is true and practical to plan for the future. However, we predispose ourselves to tremendous worries and anxieties if we rack our minds with questions asking for bread for the coming days.

Jesus teaches us a serene trust in our Heavenly Father. This is not to say we can’t do some wise planning and exercise prudence in our lives. We can. But our Lord Jesus would have us rely on the kind provision of our Father in Heaven. He says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”[3] We are to bring God our needs, not our self-indulgences or selfishness.

When we ask God for our daily bread, we don’t pray, “God, give me what I want.” We ask God to give us what we need. We ask Him to give us what we need to serve Him and our neighbors.

Our relationship with the Lord becomes a means of great gain when accompanied with contentment in our life by focusing on our needs for today.  Saint Francis de Sales said, “Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you today and every day.” Lord, give us this day our daily bread.

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[1] Charles Henrickson, Daily Bread: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread (Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer), accessed through http://steadfastlutherans.org/2014/04/give-us-this-day-our-daily-bread-sermon-on-the-lords-prayer-by-pr-charles-henrickson/, accessed o May 24, 2017.

[2] Exodus 16:20-15.

[3] Matthew 6:34.

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