Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
One of the great values of our western world is self-sufficiency. I can make it myself. I don't need anyone. That person pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. The lone cowboy riding around making things right and protecting the vulnerable. The self-made man.
Setting aside the fact that I believe this self-sufficient figure - whether we fancy ourselves that way or someone else - is a myth. This next part of the prayer contends that it is simply a wrong pursuit.
Give us today the food we need.
Two main things to consider today. The first is that everything is a gift from God, right down to the piece of toast I'm eating for breakfast. Did I work to earn the income which allowed me to purchase the bread, toaster, and butter? Sure did. But the employment, the community that contributes to my wages, the opportunity . . . it's a gift from God. In fact, if we trace everything back far enough, every breath is a gift from God. (I believe this is a part of what is being taught in Genesis 2 when God breathes life into the man.)
We like to think that we earn our place and our power. We measure ourselves on our intellect or beauty or wealth (or lack thereof), as though they are something we have control over that makes us special or somehow worthy. And yet when Jesus teaches us to pray, he invites us to come with complete humility that acknowledges the smallest realities in our lives as gifts from God. The implication is that if we are relying on God for even those small things, surely everything is a gift from God.
But there's more to this section. We are relying on God for daily provision. Give us today the food we need.
Every banking advertisement tells me that my greatest worry is about how I will survive tomorrow. Do I have my million dollar plus pension so that I can pursue all that I want to do in my post-employment years? It may be an interesting question, but never a biblical one.
The Jewish hearers of this prayer, when thinking about "daily bread" would have automatically thought about manna, the food God gave to the Hebrew people as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Every day God supplied their need. They needed to learn to trust him. When manna first came it was delivered with the instruction to only take what was needed for the day. Those who didn't trust and tried to save up for several days woke up to rotten, maggot-filled bowls that once held food. They traded life for death because they felt they couldn't trust God to provide for tomorrow.
Later in this chapter, Jesus talks specifically to those who struggled to live in the present because they were so worried about the future. But before he addresses that worry, he invites us to lean in to our loving, present father who gifts to us everything and will surely give us what we need for today if we will trust him.
This is hard. Because I want to know that tomorrow will be okay - for me, for my kids, for our church. (And by "okay" I mean, the way I want things to go.) Trust means letting go of trying to control tomorrow so that I can be present today.
I guess that is a really practical and beautiful implication of learning to pray give us today the food we need. It keeps us focused on and present in today. With the people I have today. In the places I am today. And, as I think about it, perhaps being fully present with God and others today is the best investment I can make in tomorrow anyway.