06 February 2013
‘Lest we forget’. In just three words, images of poppy fields, trenches, medals, the strains of the Last Post and a heavy silence are evoked. The phrase is pregnant with meaning and memory.
The three words ’our daily bread’ are equally evocative in the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:3.
It would have reminded hearers of the time in wilderness where God provided their ’daily bread’ and it would have reminded them of the fact that we all need daily bread - we are not asked to pray for ’my’ bread, but ’our’ bread.
But for me the most important resonance this part of the Lord’s Prayer evokes is concern for the glory of God, because it references these words from the Book of Proverbs:
‘Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.'
Riches have always been a dangerous provision. They easily provoke spiritual amnesia and myopia.
When we have more than we need, it doesn’t take long to forget that our very existence is contingent on the will of God - that the existence of matter, sentient life, society itself and our ability to earn wealth are dependent on God’s provision.
Riches rob us of our solidarity: they are mine, not yours, I am superior because I have more, I must deserve it. Riches often glorify the possessor rather than the giver.
The prayer for daily bread is a prayer for all – for some it’s a prayer for less. Lord please don’t give me more than I can cope with, please protect me so my cup doesn’t runneth over, so my plate is not stacked too high, so my balance isn’t too big.
It’s a plea that we put God’s glory at the centre of our lives. It’s a prayer for protection from over provision so we don’t disown or dishonour God’s glory.
But the prayer for daily bread is also a prayer for more for poor people. In a world where every day one in eight people go hungry, something needs to be done.
The Lord’s Prayer directs us to hallow God’s name and to forgive others. This requires more than just recitation, it demands a response.
Prayer is designed to lead us to take responsibility.
The prayer for daily bread for us all demands action on our behalf. Once again God’s glory is at the centre of this request. In light of Proverbs 30, we ask God for just the right amount of his provision, because we want protection from poverty so we won’t steal and dishonour God’s name.
So although we are praying for the meeting of our needs, we are called to do so in a very God-centred way. This prayer for food is less about consumption and more about consecration.
Dr Krish Kandiah, Vice President and Honorary Theological Advisor for Tearfund and Executive Director of Churches in Mission for the Evangelical Alliance.
Lord help us to remember,
make us one,
help us to live for your glory.
Lord please give us this day our daily bread.
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