During a trip to the grocery store, I noticed that the ice cream aisle was almost empty. Ordinarily there’s an abundance of flavors, presenting a challenging decision for an ice cream lover! Not so in my recent trip. The selection was sparse and the decision obvious.
While ice cream isn’t essential, that aisle illustrated how I often take my food for granted. I assume there will always be lots of it available. Instead of assuming it will be there, Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s provision. The fourth petition of what’s known as the Lord’s Prayer is this:
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
What can we learn from this petition?
First, we depend on God to provide our physical needs. God sends the rain, causes crops to grow, and gives us the ability to work. This is true when the economy is thriving, your investments are growing, and you’re gainfully employed. And it’s true when the economy is declining, your investments are shrinking, or you’re facing unemployment.
Second, we pray for both ourselves and others. Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day…” We pray especially for other Christians but also for all our neighbors. And as we pray, we should be ready to share with others (cf. James 2:15-16). You may also consider supporting a ministry that serves those impacted by the current pandemic.
Third, we pray for what we need today. We’re not asking for riches or a large stockpile for tomorrow. As Jesus says later in Matthew, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matthew 6:34).
Fourth, while Jesus is inviting us to pray for physical food, this also points to spiritual realities. After all, what happens after we eat? We become hungry again. But Jesus says about himself, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus died on the cross for our sins and offers himself to us. Our greatest prayer for others is for them to believe in Jesus and live with him forever.
During this economic downturn, let’s be reminded of our dependence on God’s provision. And may it lead us to our knees in prayer for our daily bread.
Pastor Steve Brown