The church is always teaching us – through this prayer – that our lives are fragile, dependent creations — and that God cares about all of that. God gives us what we need, even something so mundane – but utterly essential – as bread. Note that we pray only for daily bread. A more accurate translation of this word “daily” might be “sufficient” or “enough.” For us, we ought to pray for the grace to be able to say, in a culture of overconsumption, “Give us the grace to know when enough is enough,” or, “Help us to say, ‘No’ when the world entices us with so much.” (Stanley Hauerwas and William Wilimon; Lord, Teach Us)
Art by Lori Larsen
Just like God provided manna to the people of Israel, and water from a rock when Moses hit it with a staff, He can break open a rock to make the impossible appear. Even if all we see is lifeless rock; when we trust God — He provides for us. Making pottery almost always includes technical difficulties like mishaps, mis-firings, and even explosions (like with this piece!). The piece I wanted to make this week was very different from the piece you see here. But through my moans and groans, God allowed me to share my Lenten art idea with my fellow potters at my studio. What a wonderful way to introduce them all to the God I love — through an art form I love doing.
As a youth, when reading “Give us today our daily bread,” I knew that I wasn’t at risk of not having enough food like much of the world. I subconsciously translated this line into, “Help me to become content with what I already have.” It’s a good aim to not be greedy, and it’s a good aim to not covet my neighbours’ donkey (even if my neighbours’ donkey was an xbox 360).
When reading the prayer, “Give us today our daily bread” during Lent, I compared it to the idea of fasting (which to me has always seemed like ‘spiritual discipline for the sake of discipline’). As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Fasting (a.k.a. being content with my daily bread) as a youth seemed like practicing self-control; it followed that self-control would help me be more obedient and keep better control of my impulses.
I think I must have missed the point of Lent and fasting. Fasting, being content with our daily bread, is not about what we don’t have but more about aligning our wants and desires in accordance with God’s provisions — our God who sends manna from the heavens to feed crowds of hungry wanderers, who are searching and longing for their coming kingdom in a promised land. To follow Jesus is an ever-increasing desire for good things for ourselves and others: a desire to love more and be loved, to want more ‘shalom’ and also to give it, and to both lean into and share more in our community lives — ultimately stepping into our humanity as the image of God.
FOR REFLECTION IN PRAYER THIS WEEK
Although it might not be literal bread, what daily things are you dependent on God for today? Bring your fragile, creaturely self before God, and ask for what you need. Include in your prayers this week those in our world, or our local neighbourhood, who might not even have daily bread today. Is there a way you could be an answer to their prayer for daily bread?