I love a good loaf of bread.  One of my favorite places is The Great Harvest Bread Company.  They make some of the best bread I’ve had.  If you have never tried their olive loaf or their cheddar garlic loaf, you have missed something special.  And I loved the fact that I could stop by and actually be given a taste of a particular kind of bread before I bought it.  I would buy a loaf and eat it all week.  Just one good slice would easily make a very filling – and a very satisfying – meal.

That wonderful bread made me realize how just ‘bread alone’ could, indeed, be sustaining.

Give us this day our daily bread“, begins the third line of the Lord’s Prayer.

Now this is a statement we understand.  We understand food –

  • with our full to over-flowing pantries;
  • with our grocery stores lined with items we’ll probably never need;
  • with our restaurants offering big, bigger, and even BIGGER portions;
  • with many of us trying to shed those stubborn pounds;

… we understand food.

Or do we?

Do we really understand the power of this line, “Give us this day our daily bread”?
Do we really understand the depth of the cry, “Give us food”?

We understand the kind of hunger that makes our stomachs growl when we go too long between meals.  Or the hunger that comes from smelling the holiday turkey or ham cooking in the oven.  But that kind of hunger can easily be resolved by a quick trip to the refrigerator or the cupboard.

This cry goes much deeper.  It is a cry of millions across our world for whom the lack of ‘daily bread’ is a constant, life-threatening condition.  This is the cry of people whose very existence is threatened by hunger – people for whom a loaf of bread is truly life-sustaining.

Perhaps as we pray this prayer, this third line will call us to remember – and respond to – those who have no ‘daily bread’ – whether they are in Haiti, or Chile, or the Sudan … or just down the street.

In the study guide for the Lord’s Prayer, Becoming Jesus’ Prayer, published by the Iowa Annual Conference, we read these words:
To honestly pray “give us this day our daily bread” is to be reminded of our role in establishing God’s kingdom of justice on earth as it is in heaven.  It involves feeding the hungry.  But there is more to this prayer.  It would be an easy task if the prayer were only asking us to share our ‘leftovers” with those who lack food.  The prayer is subversive.  (p. 26)

It is our responsibility to share what we have with the world, and if we really did share, hunger could truly be a thing of the past.

There is one other thought I would like to share regarding this particular line of the Lord’s Prayer.  As we pray for bread to sustain our lives, we should also pray for that which sustains our souls.

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.””  (John 6:35)

In a world that tries to convince us that more ‘things’ will fulfill our lives, Jesus reminds us of the deeper hunger within our souls – a hunger that can only be satisfied by God.

In the words of the Communion hymn:
You satisfy the hungry heart
With gift of finest wheat.
Come, give to us, O saving Lord,
The bread of life to eat.
(UMH #629)

So as you pray this Disciple’s Prayer this week, when you get to the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread”, pause for a moment and offer a special prayer for those who have no ‘daily bread’.  Then take another moment and pray that you might find the soul-filling bread you need to continue your walk through life.

Our Father who art in heaven,
                                                      Hallowed be thy name.
                                    Thy kingdom come,
                                                      thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
                                    Give us this day our daily bread …

Amen and amen.