Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11). This profoundly insightful prayer teaches us that God is our Provider and Sustainer. Michael Dhimas reflects on how we can celebrate God’s providential care.
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11).
(They) wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season. What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand; they are filled with good” (Ps. 104:27-28).
In Indonesia, where I live, people seek Goddess Dewi Sri’s blessings to enjoy a good harvest. The traditional worship of Dewi Sri is faithfully preserved. Gifts and prayers are offered to the goddess to gain wellbeing and prosperity. Likewise, it is not entirely uncommon in many other religious traditions around the World to seek gods’ favour and material blessings.
But, as Christians, can we seek God to receive material blessings? Or do we need to seek God only for our spiritual needs? Does God ever care about our physical needs? True, God has met our greatest spiritual need – redemption – through Jesus Christ (Col. 2:13; 2 Cor. 5:17, 21; Jn. 20:31). I believe God cares for our physical needs and wellbeing as well.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). Among the many things, this profoundly insightful prayer teaches us that God is our Provider and Sustainer.
The Greek word artos (Hebrew: Lekem) used in this verse can be translated either as bread or food in general. Calvin contends, “the phrase “bread” not only refers to ‘food’ but is rather symbolic of all our physical needs”. Interestingly, the Lord’s Prayer (in its Indonesian Catholic version) reads: “Give us sustenance today.”
Ask God for your Needs
First, we learn to ask God to provide for our material needs. We all have needs, don’t we? More often than not, we are overwhelmed by our needs. Our needs can never be exhausted. This is the experience of many who live in the Global South.
Jesus taught us to ask our Father in heaven, “Give us this day our daily bread”. The prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread”, presumes God’s loving care and His gracious provision for His people. We acknowledge that God is our Provider. If God is our Provider, we must learn to ask from God. He will surely provide for our needs.
Let me share my friend’s experience. Once, when he and his wife had no money to buy salt. They began to pray, “Lord, we need salt” (Yes, they prayed for salt). A few days later, they received a gift bag, and when they opened it, they were amazed to find the salt they had prayed for! Unbelievable!
My friend learnt a valuable lesson that the Lord is not ignorant of His children’s needs. God knows what we need, and He miraculously provides for us. We must learn to tell God our needs and receive through faith in prayer.
Depend on God
Second, we learn to depend on God to provide what we need. The Greek word ‘epousion’ ( used in Matt. 6:11) is difficult to translate as it appears only once in the New Testament. However, most Bible scholars favour the word “daily” for ‘epousion.’ Therefore, God’s people are encouraged to ask the Heavenly Father for their daily “needs” rather than for their “wants.”
Remember, God provided His people food in the wilderness (Ex. 16: 4-12; Deuteronomy 8: 3; Jn. 6:31). He provided manna daily to His people. God gave each one as much as they can eat (Ex. 16: 16).
Everyone gathered as much as they could eat. In fact, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack (Ex. 16:18). Further, their clothing did not wear out, and their foot did not swell throughout their journey (Deut. 8:3).
Through this prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread“, we are invited to come to God, ask Him to provide for our needs in a spirit of dependence and humility. God remains faithful, and therefore, we can rely on Him to provide for our daily needs.
Confident in God’s Care
Third, we learn to be confident in God’s circle of care. True, God provides for our daily needs. The Psalmist says, “(They) wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season. What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good” (Ps. 104: 27-28). God provides our needs, and we must be content to stay within God’s circle of care.
The term “daily” encourages us to develop a spirituality of temperance, a spiritual life based on the faith that God’s grace is sufficient for us. It also challenges us to commit to simple living and train ourselves to control our desires.
Temperance is one of the four virtues prescribed for every human in ancient Greek philosophy. Mawas diri ( as temperance is known in the Indonesian language) refers to controlling ourselves from our own human desires and proclivities.
The prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” invites us to have confidence in God’s providential care. It guards us against all greed. Apostle Paul points, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Tim. 6:7-8).
Asking God for “sustenance for the day” may also refer to God’s provision for needs we may not be aware of. God, our Father, knows what we need even before we ask (Matt. 6:8). God can also do far more abundantly than all that we can ask or think ( Eph. 3:20).
Apostle Paul also reminds us that God will not withhold good things from us. He has given us His only Son, and He will graciously give us all things: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). God will provide for us, and we can confidently rest in God’s circle of care.
Celebrate God’s Providential Care
Christian faith is not ‘other worldly’. God is concerned about our physical needs and provides for our needs. Jesus taught us to ask the Heavenly Father to grant us sustenance every day of our lives. God remains faithful, and we can rely on Him to provide for our daily needs. We are invited to celebrate God’s providential care.
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness Morning by morning, new mercies, I see All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Photo by Maksym Ivashchenko on Unsplash