What is the fourth request?
“Give us today our daily bread.”
The first three requests in the Lord’s* Prayer are about God. We are to honor* God’s name, wait for God’s kingdom*, and submit* to God’s will. These are the things that Jesus* wants us to pray about first. With the fourth request, we turn to God and ask that he provide for our daily needs. Asking God for something is the most basic idea of prayer. Prayer is more than that, but it is not less. These are the first words in the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus taught us to ask for something for ourselves.
God’s people have always known that all that we have is a gift from him. That God owns all things and all good things come from him. Jesus wants us to remember that each time we pray.
Jesus says that we should ask for bread because bread is our most basic need. He wants us to pray about the most basic things that are on our mind, so he uses bread. Bread is not a big thing. Bread was the most basic food in Jesus’ day. But if you do not have it, you think about it a lot. We cannot live very long without food.
He used bread as a way to speak about all of our needs. When Jesus tells us to pray for bread, he is telling us to pray for bread and everything else as well. We need to grow the grain to make bread. So, we pray for rain and sun so that our fields will grow. We need to work to have money to buy bread. And we can not work if we are sick, so we pray that our body will be healthy. Jesus wants us to see the word ‘bread’ to remind us of all of these things.
When Jesus says, ‘daily bread’ it seems that he wants us to pray this way every day. When the people in Jesus’ day heard this word, they would hear, ‘enough for today.’ The masters in those days paid workers at the end of each day. They would use the money they made that day to buy the food for that day. So, Jesus wants people to remember to ask God to give them what they need-‘enough for today.’
In the book of Matthew*, Jesus tells people not to worry about clothes or food. God knows that we need these things. Instead, they are to ‘first seek the kingdom of God and what he says is right.’ When they do, God will provide them with what they need. God is a good Father. He knows how to give good gifts to his children.
Later, Paul* would tell the Philippians*, ‘God will supply all of your needs.’ When we pray this prayer, we are telling God that we are depending on him to do that.
In this request, we do not ask for all the things we want or wish we had. We trust* God to give us what we really need. This prayer does not teach us that we should not work. Work is the way God provides our needs. When God put Adam* and Eve* in the garden, he gave them work to do.
Jesus also wants us to care for those in need. He uses two words here that he has not used before. Give us, this day, our daily bread. This is not just a prayer for each person to ask for things for themselves. When we pray this prayer, we pray as a member of a family. We pray as part of a community.* So, when God gives us more than we need, we must think of those who do not have enough. We are to depend on God. And we are to remember that other men and women may be depending on us. When God gives us much more than we need, we are to think about those who may not have enough.
God may use us to be the answer to someone else’s prayers. We can give people their daily bread if we have enough. We must not say no to helping other men and women in need. It is wrong to be selfish with our money. Mark tells us about a poor widow who only had two small coins. She was poor, but she trusted God and gave them away to help other men and women. Jesus was pleased with her.
When we pray this prayer, we ask God to provide just what we need. We ask for what we need, when we need it – for every area of life.