Give us our daily bread
In the ancient Near East the word bread referred to food in general as well as the loaf we know today. In that society bread was the staff of life. Bread in this context refers to all that we need to sustain life as we serve the Lord. Today we can buy a loaf in almost every shop, we have breadmakers so we can easily make it ourselves, we even have dried yeast, but life back in Jesus day wasn’t that simple. Bread was different then. It was made in pockets, a bit like pitta so that it could be stuffed with olives or goats cheese and stuffed into a pocket and taken out to the fields, it was the lunch box as well as the lunch.
A plain piece of bread may seem a bit boring, we tend to liven it up with butter, marmalade, vegemite etc, but on its own, it is a minor miracle. The poet Maltbie Babcock (what a name!) said
“Back of the loaf is the snowy flour, and back of the flour is the mill, and back of the mill is the wheat, sun and shower and the farmer and the Father’s will.” Just think about it, it needs the co-operation of the whole world for us to get our bread. We start with the miracle of seed, then we have the climate to grow the wheat, the skills of the farmer, the miller and the baker, the transport team etc etc.
I bet we all take for granted this miracle, I know I do. What do we do with our bread when it is stale? If we are inventive we make bread and butter pudding but all too often it is thrown away. We waste millions of tons of food every year in this country alone. In Jesus time bread was valuable, no crumb was wasted, even with the miracle of the 5 loaves and fish, Jesus asked his disciples to collect up the crumbs so that nothing should be wasted.
However I don’t want us to get hung upon the physical bread. Jesus is urging us to ask for more than our daily food, numerous times in the bible Jesus is referred to as the bread of life, John 6 v32-35 We just have to ask and our daily needs will be met Matt 7 v 7-9
So we need to discern what we should be doing to serve Jesus and then ask for the means to carry that out. He will provide whatever is needed to carry out His daily work. The key here is HIS work. It’s no good praying for a win on the lottery, unless you are prepared to give every single penny back to Him to further His kingdom, you won’t win. We also have to remember that we are asking for our DAILY bread. We all live our lives 1 day at a time, rich or poor, talented or not, no-one can live 2 days at a time or more. We must daily ask for God’s blessing and grace. We must take things 1 step at a time, meeting each task head on, remembering that God will equip us with all we need to see through each situation as long as we ask.
We are in the middle of the Islamic fasting time of Ramadan. Many Christians also fast as a way of bringing themselves closer to God, in fact the word Breakfast is “break” “fast” and in olden times, no-one would eat before taking communion, in fact many people still don’t today. I manage if it’s an 8.00am communion, but can’t hang out for Re:Fresh!!. I also think fasting is a great way of reminding us how lucky we are to have food readily available.
So, maybe next time we sit down to our morning toast or tuck into a cheese sandwich, we can reflect on all that God has provided us with and give thanks and then ask what we can do in return.