2019 02 10 pm What We Need Matthew 6:11

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

The first three requests of the Lord’s Prayer, as you can see, are all God-focused: “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,” and “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  But now, with the fourth request, we begin the part of the Prayer that is “us” focused: “Give us this day our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts …  And lead us not into temptation …”


And some have wondered why the first ‘us’ request is about something as mundane and earthly as daily bread and not the forgiveness of our sins or being kept from temptation.  Aren’t they more important than daily bread?  But of course, if you think about it for a moment, to hallow God’s name and to do His will and to forgive others are things that the living do.  Drive past a cemetery and you will not hear much hymn singing or see much forgiving been done.  In Psalm 30, the Psalmist prayed, “What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit?  Will the dust praise you?  Will it proclaim your faithfulness?”  It is the living who praise God and obey His will on earth and forgive others.  And in order to remain alive, we need daily bread!  So that is why the first “us” request is for daily bread.


In short then, with this request, we believers ask the Lord for all that we need to honour Him every day.

And what we will do is first say a few words about the biblical background of the request for daily bread and then think about the important implications of this request for daily bread.


  1. So we begin with the biblical background of the request for daily bread.


  1. And to do this we go all the way back to the early chapters of the Bible. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve fall into sin.  And what was that original sin about?    They ate fruit from the forbidden tree.  And notice that I just said fruit; I didn’t say an apple.  People often talk about the apple but the Bible does not tell us what the fruit was!  Well, after they had eaten and realized that they were now fallen sinners, God came to explain the consequences of the Fall.  And I want you to listen to what God said to Adam, and to listen especially to the words I will emphasize as I read these verses.  God said to Adam, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  So three things to note about these words:
    1. Firstly, the punishment fits the crime. Adam’s sin was to do with food.  And so, five times in God’s word to Adam, eating is mentioned, including, specifically, the eating of bread.
    2. Secondly, the curse was about the effort required to get bread. From now on, food wouldn’t just fall off trees, as it were.  The ground that produced the food would not be weed free and naturally fertile.  It was now “cursed ground.”  And every gardener here is thinking, Yup, it sure is!  Mankind now had to sweat for every morsel of food.
    3. But thirdly, even though there will be this “painful toil” and “thorn and thistle” and “sweat,” the ground will still produce Bread. Even though he is a rebellious sinner, the merciful, patient, and generous God will provide man with the bread he needs to live.  So even in this curse there is a message of grace!


  1. Now, as we think about this a little more, in the context of God’s words in Genesis 3, there is obviously a physical reality. God will provide food to eat.  And we are going to say more about this in our second point.  But there is also a spiritual reality to this promise.
    1. What is it that sinners need above everything else? Think back to God’s original warning to Adam before he sinned.  God said, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.”  So prior to eating the fruit, Adam’s destiny was?    But after eating it, Adam’s destiny was death.  And while physical bread delays death, it cannot prevent it.  Ultimately then, sinners need spiritual bread.  Can you see where this is leading?  Do you remember Jesus’ words in John 6?  having just fed a crowd with physical bread, Jesus said, ““For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst … For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
    2. Friends, the bread you need most is the Lord Jesus Christ. If you believe that He is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, then eternal life is yours!  Do you believe this?


  1. This is what we learn from the Biblical Background of the request for daily bread. But let’s turn our attention, secondly, to the important implications of the request for daily bread.  And there are four things we want to briefly consider, and they are that it is a request for bread/bodily needs, it is a request for basic bread, it is a request for baked bread, and it is a request for bread for the body.


  1. So first of all, it is a request for bread/bodily needs. The exact words of Jesus are “give us this day our daily bread,” but the Catechism answer expands this to “all our bodily needs.”  And so the question is: Is this expansion warranted?  Is it right to understand bread as meaning all our bodily needs?
    1. Well, as a general rule, they say that if you are without air for three minutes, you will die, if you are without water for three days, you will die, and if you are without food for three weeks, you will die. So we clearly need air and water as well as bread to survive.
    2. But we see that all our bodily needs are in view from the Bible if we look ahead a few verses to v33, where Jesus urges believers there to “seek first the kingdom of God.” Well, immediately before the command to seek first the kingdom of God, Jesus has told believers not to be anxious about what we eat and drink and wear, for “your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”  So this request clearly is a request for all the things that are necessary to sustain life.  This is a request for bread/all our bodily needs.


  1. But secondly, let’s note that it is a request for basic
    1. Jesus surely could have said, Give us this day our wine and cheese and long-filled cream donuts and medium-rare fillet steak. But He didn’t.  Instead He said, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  And this is because bread is one of the plain and ordinary staples of our diet.  And Jesus also could have said, Give us bread.  But again, He didn’t.  He said, “Give us this day, our daily”  He urges us to seek just what is needed for today.
    2. So let’s conduct a little thought experiment for a moment. Do you think that most of us pray this request often or not often?
      1. I think we are on safe ground to say that most prayers include requests for a nice day, safe travels, pass this exam, good health, secure employment, healing, etc… Long lists of physical or material things we seek from the Lord.  Is that true?  So you might think that we are praying this request often then.
      2. And yet, thinking back to what we just said about this request being a request for basic bread, just what is needed for today, a good case could be made for saying that we do not pray this request very often. Can you remember the last time you prayed with any urgency for just enough bread for today?
        • A recent newspaper handout advertized the Global Food Shopper Tour. You pay $195 a person, and a well-known chef takes you to the food shops around the city where she gets her favourite ethnic food stuffs, with each month’s tour focusing on a different region of the world. And the tour ends with lunch and a glass of wine.
        • Contrast that with the account of the group of malnourished children rescued from a camp after WWII. They were washed and fed very well, but they had trouble sleeping. The problem was eventually solved by giving the children a piece of bread at night time, not to eat but to hold on to.  And from that day on the children slept well.  Why?  Because after going to bed for so long not knowing if there would be food the next day, now they knew that they had at least that piece of bread to eat tomorrow.  Do you have trouble sleeping because you do not know where tomorrow’s food will come from?  For most of us this is probably not the case.
        • In Proverbs 30:8-9, we find this prayer, “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.”  And I suspect that most of us, if not all of us, are probably in that first category of having plenty of food, which means we are in danger of disowning the Lord; of not seeing it as necessary to ask Him for our daily bread.
      3. Well, believer, the Lord Jesus has promised that He will give you what you need in order to carry out His work. So with this request, your Lord and Saviour is teaching you to point to that promise and to pray that your Father would give you what you need.  It is a matter of trust and obedience to come to God and request your basic


  1. But note thirdly that it is a request for baked bread.
    1. And please don’t get hung up on the word baked. As we saw with God’s words to Adam after Fall, Adam was going to have to work hard for his bread.  God did not say He would float manna bread down from heaven.  So if you are going to pray this request with sincerity, you must be willing to work!
      1. And this is made explicit in 2 Thessalonians 3. There the Apostle Paul was dealing with the problem of laziness in the church in Thessalonica.  He said, “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labour we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you … For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”  There were people in the Thessalonian congregation who refused to work but who expected others in the church or the deacons to feed them.   But the Spirit of the Lord through Paul says, Uh uh!  No No!  “If anyone is unwilling to work, let him not eat.”
      2. And this highlights one of the problems with any welfare system that does not have a if you are unwilling to work, you will receive your benefit principle underpinning it. For such a system makes it possible for people who are unwilling to work to eat.  We hear news stories about no one being willing to milk cows or plant trees or pick fruit, etc.  But the Spirit of the Lord through Paul says, “If anyone is unwilling to work, let him not eat.”
    2. But as a necessary balancing point to the one we have just made, don’t forget that the Lord Jesus is teaching us here to pray for our daily bread. Yes, we are to work and to work hard.  But food is not some sort of automatic compensation system for working that doesn’t involve God.  Jesus did not teach us to pray to our employers for our daily food.  James 1:17 says that “every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven.”  The Lord Jesus does not want us to see our food as something we deserve but as a good and perfect gift from our Father in heaven, for which we should be thankful.  The Lord Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, as the Catechism answers explains, “So that we come to know that [God] is the source of everything good and that neither our work nor our worry nor [God’s] gifts can do us any good without [His] blessing.”  So the Lord Jesus would have us work for our daily bread and be thankful to God for our daily bread.


  1. So this request is a request for bread/bodily needs, for basic bread, and for baked bread. But fourthly and lastly, it is a request for bread for the body.
    1. And when I say ‘the body,’ I do not our physical body but the body of Christ – our brothers and sisters in Christ. For notice that Jesus did not teach us to pray for my daily bread but for our daily bread.  So part of the way that we love our neighbour, as Christ commanded us to do, is that we pray that the Lord would provide for their bodily needs as well as for my bodily needs.  And this is one of the special joys of our congregational prayers and our times of gathered prayer at our Home Groups and Prayer Meetings.
    2. But another part of the way that we love our neighbours is through generous giving to those who are in need. A few moments ago, we read from 2 Thessalonians about the problem of people being unwilling to work but still expecting to eat.  Well, in Ephesians 4:28, there is another command about work: We read, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”  So we work not just so that we may have bread but so that others, who may be in a tough situation for a time, can also have bread.  And this is why the Lord requires us to tithe, which is to set 10% of our income aside, which we then put into the offering bag or ET.
      1. And just in case you ever grow tired of giving to others, just remember the words of this poem penned by an author whose identity I could not track down,

Go give to the needy sweet charity’s bread.  For giving is living,” the angel said. 

“And must I be giving again and again?”  My peevish, petulant answer ran. 

“Oh, no,” said the angel, piercing me through, “just give till the Master stops giving to you.” 

  1. So this request is also a request for bread for the body – our brothers and sisters in Christ.



Well, I mentioned at the beginning of the sermon that the very first temptation and the very first sin had to do with food.  So when God came to rebuke Adam for his sin, the consequences affected even our food.  But God also made Adam and Eve a very beautiful promise.  He said that one day the seed of the woman would come to crush the seed of the serpent.


And several thousand years later, Jesus came to earth as the fulfillment of that promise.  And boys and girls, do you remember the very first temptation that the devil set before Jesus in the wilderness?  Interestingly, it was also to do with food.  He said, “Command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But while Adam and Eve gave into temptation, Jesus did not.


So He truly is well qualified to be the bread of life!  The physical bread we eat is useful for daily strength.  But death comes to all of us, one day.  This is why Jesus said, “Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.””


So pray, regularly, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  But be quick also to thank Him for providing all your bodily needs and especially for Jesus, the bread of eternal life.  Amen.