Give us today our daily bread- Matt. 6:11 (NIV)
I haven’t always appreciated this line in The Lord’s Prayer the way I do today.
I mean, I’ve understood since childhood that to ask for bread was to ask for our nutritional sustenance. Something to keep our tummies from growling and a headache from pounding. Something to stop those low-blood-sugar dizzy spells and help me keep some mental focus.
I’ve never known real hunger, but I don’t like even the occasional foretaste that leaves me grouchy and spacey.
But usually when I’m hungry, it’s my own fault. I didn’t give myself enough time in the morning to prepare any food before dashing out the door. Or I forgot to stash a protein bar in my purse before heading to my child’s soccer game. It’s not that I don’t have access to sound nutrition. It’s just that I can rely on the availability of fast food or a gas-station snack to get me out of an occasional scrape with a bit of appetite or even a hankering.
In my context, bread is something the restaurant places on the table—for free—while you wait for the “real” food to arrive.
In fact, our culture often shuns bread as “bad carbs.”
When my husband and I lived in Russia in the early 90’s, though, bread was viewed much differently.
We would bundle up on a snowy morning and walk the icy sidewalks to the bread factory’s kiosk. There, we would stand in line behind those who’d risen even earlier to face the bitter cold in order to obtain life-giving bread.
If one batch sold out, the cold and hungry hopeful would wait for the next.
Why? Because in the newly post-Soviet Russia, food was hard to find. Prepared food that was ready to eat? Only bread. Inexpensive food? Bread topped that list, too.
And so we stood, awaiting our daily bread. For some, it was the only food they could afford. Of course, it was carby. But it kept starvation at bay for one more day.
It also taught me to take the phrase “our daily bread,” more seriously.
But nothing has impacted my thinking on this phrase from The Lord’s Prayer more than a story about World War II orphans.
As the war drew to a close, the Allies created facilities for children who were orphaned as part of the combat‘s toll. Though they were safe and well-nourished, the children were unable to sleep at night.
Those working with the children consulted a psychologist. He encouraged the caregivers to place a piece of bread in each child’s hand as they went to bed at night.
The orphanage staff balked, “But we feed the children well and do not send them to bed hungry!”
The psychologist explained that after the destructive trauma these children had experienced, they were inclined to worry about tomorrow. If they could be assured there was still food left for the next day, they would have peace enough to let slumber come.
It turns out, he was right. Once assured they’d have their daily bread, the children relaxed and slept soundly.
We may not always feel our dependence upon God for our daily bread the way those children did, but we must acknowledge our dependence regardless. As we ask for our daily bread, we acknowledge to our Father who art in heaven—and to ourselves!—that He is our great Provider.
May you hunger for Jesus, the Bread of Life, with the same insatiable desire. May you crave His presence so desperately that having a taste of Him today is not sufficient. May you yearn for the morning, when you can savor Him again, and may you partake of Him sufficiently to keep starvation at bay for one more day!
*This article is the fourth in a series walking through The Lord’s Prayer from an orphan’s perspective.