Text: Matthew 6:11
We’ve come to week three of our study in the Lord’s Prayer.
Two weeks ago we were reminded that God is our Father, the loving parent who walks across the room and pursues us and desires to be in relationship with us. That Heaven is here and now in how we live. That we are asking God to make God’s reputation holy through us.
Then last week we saw a real-life demonstration of how God makes his will be done and his kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven through hearing the report of our team that went to Haiti a few weeks ago.
Today we come to one simple line. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Bread. I love bread. I love all kinds of bread.
This may sound strange, but I’ve been meditating on bread all week. Let’s think about a simple loaf of white bread for a minute. Look at this picture. What do you see? I call this pre-bread. It is all the ingredients you need to make a loaf of bread. Where would you go to get these ingredients? Of course, most of us would say “the grocery store, right?” Of course we would. Where else would we go?
So, I looked at this picture and thought, where does all this stuff come from? That’s when it started getting really interesting for me. Let’s start on the left. Here we have a jug of milk. I have never milked a cow in my life. This milk came from the body of an animal many miles away. It was sent to a processing plant where it was homogenized and pasteurized and put into a jug.
Now we have this bag of white powdery stuff. Wheat flour. It started as a bunch of seeds put into the ground months, maybe years ago. It was patiently nurtured by a farmer, then harvested, shucked (or whatever it is called for wheat), sold to a flour mill, ground into flour, and bagged.
Then we have sugar. Yes, white bread has sugar. Last time I checked sugar doesn’t grow in Minnesota. It grows in tropical climates. These tall canes need to be grown in hot humid climates and harvested by somebody. Then the cane is squeezed and the juice is processed and dried and made into granulated sugar and then bagged.
Next comes Salt. Salt is a mineral. It can be either mined from the ground or extracted from ocean water. Either way, it takes a great deal of energy to turn it into our common table salt.
Over here we have butter. We’ve already covered the cow thing. Some of the milk is sent to a machine that churns it and makes it into butter.
Then we have this little packet. It is yeast. Do you know what yeast is? It’s fungus. People grow fungus and harvest it and sell it. When these microscopic creatures are placed in the dough they make gas and the little gas bubbles make the dough rise.
OK, now we see the source for all these ingredients. But we’re missing something. What is holding this bread? A plastic bag. This took me down an entirely different avenue. Petroleum is extracted from the ground. It’s carbon molecules are manipulate through intense heat and pressure and converted into plastic beans. Those beans are sold to bag manufacturers who press them into thin sheets and cut them into bags and then sell them to bakeries, who then imprint their logos on them and stuff their loaves of bread into them.
There’s still something else that’s missing from this picture. How do all these things get to the bread maker? They need to be shipped. There is an entire, global system of shipping across water and land to get these ingredients where they need to go.
There’s one more piece. Where do you buy the bread? The grocery store. Some of you work at a grocery store. The planning and organizational and economic skills that it takes to keep food on the shelves at any given time is truly mind-blowing.
When Jesus taught us to pray, whose bread did he tell us to pray for? Did he say, “give me this day my daily bread?” No.
This is our bread.
When I first thought about our bread I thought about my family. Yes, this is not just my bread, I need to be concerned about my families basic needs. Give us our bread.
But then, as I meditated on these pictures, it struck me. This bread is our bread. It took hundreds of people to make this bread possible. In our culture it requires the peaceful interactions of hundreds of people, many companies, and often international trade in order for something as simple as bread to show up in my home pantry.
When we ask God to give us our bread, I think we’re asking God to help us to maintain peace with our neighbors because we truly need each other to survive.
Here’s what came to me through this meditation. Praying for our bread is really a prayer for peace.
Our bread requires peace with everyone and a piece for everyone.
That’s the first thing we can think about from this simple line.
There’s one other angle that’s important. What kind of bread is it and when are we to have it?
daily bread. this day.
If you were here two weeks ago you will remember that I said the Lord’s prayer has a chiastic structure, And that it is embedded in the sermon on the mount that also has a chiastic structure. The line “give us this day our daily bread” is the first line that turns the corner and starts backing out. That means that the passages immediately following the Lords Prayer are expounding on the meaning of this phrase. Let’s look at what follows.
Don’t store up treasures on earth, but store them up in Heaven (6:19-23)
you can’t serve God and money (6:24)
Don’t worry about food and clothing (6:25-34)
Here’s what I think this simple line is really all about. We are asking God, “Father in Heaven, please help us not to worry.”
Give us today our daily bread. Jesus summed it all up at the end of this section in chapter 6 verse 34,
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today”
Does anybody here struggle with anxiety? Um, yes. Anxiety has spread through our society like the plague. Again we could spend the rest of the summer talking about overcoming anxiety.
I want to give you two simple ideas, two simple words of wisdom, to help.
The first comes from a man named Srephen Covey.
he said something really simple, but incredibly profound. He said that anxiety happens when we focus our energy on things that are outside of our control. Think about it. There are things in life that you can change, and things you can’t. Covey suggests that if you focus on changing the things you can change and letting go of the things you can’t, then you will have less anxiety and your circle of influence to make change might grow.
The second word of wisdom comes from the Bible’s words of wisdom. We heard this read earlier. I invite you to open you Bible to Proverbs 30:7-9.
We ask God to make us neither rich nor poor. If we are rich then we will be tempted to deny that God is our provider.
If we are poor we may be tempted to steal and do terrible things, just to survive.
Daily bread is about contentment. It’s about peace.
Let me put this all together. This one simple line “give us this day our daily bread” is a prayer for peace. This week, I challenge you to think about this a pray the daily bread peace pray every time you grab a loaf of bread.
The daily bread peace prayer.
This week, whenever you grab a loaf of bread, give thanks for God’s provision through all those people, pray for peace among the nations, pray that all people have a piece to eat, and pray for peace to let go of tomorrow and be a child of peace today.