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Monday, March 27, 2017

Sermon on the Mount, Day 23 of 40: How to Pray, Part II

Matthew 6:11
Give us this day our daily bread.

The Greek word for daily is epiousios and it is used only twice in the New Testament; once in Matthew and once in Luke.  There has been some disagreement among scholars about its meaning, but the simplest and most common translation is sustenance or nourishment that is sufficient for our immediate needs.

What did Jesus mean that we should pray for our daily bread?

When we pray for our daily bread, we are acknowledging our total dependence on God for our lives and our well-being.  We are acknowledging that God is in control.

We are praying for something very basic to our subsistence. John Chrysostom, an early Church father, and Bishop of Constantinople, put it this way, "What is daily bread?  Just enough for one day...For it is not for riches or frills that we pray.  It is not for wastefulness or extravagant clothing that we pray, but only for bread.  And only for bread on a daily basis, so as not to 'worry about tomorrow'."

Notice that Jesus says "Give us", not me.  We are to think of others as Jesus did in the wilderness when he fed the 5,000.  If I receive my daily bread and I know someone who has not, I am to share with others.

Finally, If I am to live a spiritual life, I must also include daily spiritual nourishment in the meaning of this prayer.  Just as I must feed my stomach daily, I must also feed my soul.  Too often we are so preoccupied with the things we must do to nourish our stomachs that we forget to put aside time for spiritual nourishment.  Our spiritual lives depend upon regular nourishment.

And like the basic bread that we use to feed our physical bodies, the food that we feed our spirit does not have to be anything extravagant.  It could be the reading of a devotion at the beginning or end of each day; taking a walk to pray or meditate on the goodness of God; or taking someone who is hungry some food.

Tomorrow we study forgiveness.

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