Friday, January 6, 2023

Our Daily Bread

Question 104: What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
Answer: In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them. (WSC
In this petition, Jesus directs us away from self-sufficiency, anxiety, false asceticism, and greed. He teaches us to ask our heavenly Father to provide for our physical needs. This petition builds on several truths of Scripture.
  1. Food is a gift from God, to be received with thanksgiving and joy (1 Tim. 4:1-5, 6:17). We need food and drink and clothing, and he provides good things that are useful and pleasant. “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man's heart” (Psalm 104:14–15). 
  2. God cares for his children. Christ’s disciples are not orphans in this world. We have a heavenly Father who responds to the prayers and needs of his children. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31, 33). 
  3. Our daily bread should be received as a gift, with gratitude, contentment, and love. This is the way to joy. And this ability to receive and appreciate his provision is itself a gift of God for which we should ask. “Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19).
Jesus makes this request very practical and concrete by saying “this day our daily bread.” Do you get up in the morning and ask God for that day’s food? Or at night, do you pray for the food and shelter for the following day? Jesus teaches us to be like Israel in the wilderness who collected a new batch of manna from God every day. He teaches us to be dependent on God, not merely in a general way, but for today’s bread.

Jesus also directs us to make a modest request. He does not say, “make us rich,” “help me win the lottery,” “make me invincible against all weakness and need.” He does not encourage that approach. Rather, he teaches us to ask for daily bread, for a competent portion of the good things of this life. If God’s gifts come with God’s favor and are received as gifts with contentment, then they can provide great joy and gladness, even if they are small and simple.

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