Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Proverbs 3:8-9
“Bread represents life, and bread is easy to get. Moreover, nature herself gives us something to put on it to make it more tasty. The best thing to eat with bread is the peace of a good conscience. Then the bread is eaten with gusto, because it is being eaten in holiness of life.
But if you want to experience the taste of bread otherwise than in symbolic description, in the physical sense in fact, you have hunger to eat it with. Therefore, first of all, don’t eat too much you will lose your appetite for a long time. And then, let your dinner be preceded by sweat. ‘In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread,’ is the first commandment mentioned in the Scriptures [Gen. 3:19].
The Lord’s Prayer speaks of ‘daily’ bread. In saying that, let us remember that the life in which we ought to be interested is ‘daily’ life. We can, each of us, only call the present time our own. Why should we worry ourselves by thinking about the future?
Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow. It is as if he were to say to us: ‘He who gives you this day will also give you what you need for this day. He it is who makes the sun to rise. He it is who scatters the darkness of night and reveals to you the rays of the sun.'”
Gregory of Nyssa in On the Lord’s Prayer (PG44, 1173) in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World, ed. by Thomas Spidlik (Kalamazoo: Cistercian, 1994) 350.
In God’s providence, Pastor James Hoxworth, our pastor at the Bridge Church at Bear Creek, is turning our attention to the Lord’s prayer at the same time my Patristic (Early Fathers) devotional book took me there.
And I see the Lord’s Prayer on the wall daily. I pause often to pray it often when I got up and down the stairs going to and from my office. It’s on the wall at the landing part way up the stairs (see the new header photo above). I am particularly drawn to the request at the heart of the prayer for daily bread.
Today’s Scripture from the Old Testament reminds us that we are surrounded with lies which tempt us to focus on everything but depending on God for daily bread. These lies tempt us to seek after possessions, pleasure, or power, which is why the monastic traditions make vows of poverty, chastity, and humility. We are bombarded with these lies. They link to overeating, self-indulgence, underworking, oppression, injustice, and all manner of corrupted thinking linked to provision.
Consider some examples of the implications of being influenced by such thinking. It is impossible to be generous if we don’t trust God for our daily bread. We cannot be generous if we think the fruit of our work belongs to us. We will never experience the joy of generosity if we think we have to hold on to money to try to secure the future. All that thinking is falsehood and lies.
So, on this Lord’s day during COVID-19, give thanks for daily bread, and if you have more than you need, share generously with any neighbors you know who may be in need. Give generously with your local church, give to missionaries and ministries you support, and remember the poor, as is it is Jesus Himself in our midst.Read more