In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs his disciples, “Give us each day our daily bread.” He’s teaching them that God is their provider and they are to ask him to provide what they hunger and long for.
We must pray like this on a daily basis: “God, we have a hunger for food and only you can provide for that hunger. We have a thirst for water; only you can provide for that thirst. We have a longing for air every moment; only you can provide that air.” We usually don’t even think about these things, but they are vital to our lives. When they are taken away from us, we immediately begin to long for them. We have all kinds of hungers, desires, thirsts, and longings in our lives for things like peace, love, intimacy, meaning, or purpose. Jesus is telling us to go to God and say, “Only you can provide these things for me.”
Now let’s be honest, this whole request seems really strange in our culture. We don’t often ask God to give us bread today. Few of us reading this are worried that we may not have anything to eat today. So, why would we request bread from God when most, if not all of us, need less food, not more? Why do we ask for daily bread? Because Jesus was saying, “You need to pray because prayer will guard you against thinking that you can provide bread for yourself on your own, apart from God.” Prayer will be the hedge of protection to keep you from thinking that you can provide what you need or that the things of this world can provide for all of your hungers. Only God can provide what you need.
“Prayer will guard you against thinking that you can provide bread for yourself on your own, apart from God.”
I’m convinced when I look at my own life, and I look at the trends within western Christianity, that one of the reasons we are so flippant and casual with prayer is because we actually believe that we can do this thing on our own and we can sustain our lives on our own. We have bought into the materialism that’s sold to us, which says that we don’t need God, we just need our things. We believe that we can make it without God because we have all of our things. But Jesus says that the core of prayer is realizing that you have a Father in heaven who desires to give every good and perfect gift to you. You need him, not bread, water, air, or any of these things that you hunger and long for. Prayer brings us back to this realization: you need God and he will provide those things for you.
In our culture, we must ask God to deliver us from self-sustaining Christian lives. You can’t sustain yourself; that goes against the whole point of Christianity. Only God sustains us. We’re only satisfied by God, and he gives us that which nothing else in this world can. No matter how big our house is, no matter how nice our car is, no matter how great our job or our salary is, no matter how great our possessions are, only God can satisfy us. We don’t need things, we need God.
I’m guessing none of us has asked God today, “Give me my daily bread.” Maybe so few of us pray this way because we think that we can do it on our own — but we can’t. We don’t have it on our own. We can’t do this thing without him. He alone is our provider. So we go to him, saying, “Give us the core needs. I need you to provide these things for me.”
Learn more about the Lord’s Prayer: At CROSS20, David Platt, Trip Lee, John Piper, and others will unpack the counter-cultural message of the Lord’s Prayer. Join us via livestream, December 29–30, 2020.
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Editor’s note: This article was adapted from a sermon preached on July 15, 2007.