“Dear God, put me in a position where I won’t need you anymore.”
I was startled when a mentor suggested that was what my prayers were like. I didn’t like what he was suggesting, but I saw that he was right. Deep down I think we all hate being dependent on someone else. I know that I don’t like having to rely on God. I want my life to be secure. I want it to be predictable. We don’t like the feeling of living day to day and paycheck to paycheck. But that is precisely the place where Jesus calls us to live when he taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He is calling us back to the wilderness.
We must not forget that the Lord’s Prayer is a deeply Jewish prayer. The image of “Daily Bread” was seared in the memories of the nation of Israel. It recalls the 40 years that Israel spent wandering in the wilderness between the slavery in Egypt that lay behind them and the Promsied Land that lay over the horizon. It was there in the wilderness that God taught Israel to trust him one day at a time.
The elation over God’s spectacular victory over their Egyptian oppressors quickly faded as reality of life in the desert set in. Where will we find water? Where will we find food? We must not be too quick to judge the Israelites when their fear slipped into anger and they accused God and Moses of leading them out of Egypt only to kill them in the desert. After all, they had been slaves for 450 years. Trust was not going to come easy to them.
But God was gracious and he split the rocks and out poured living water. With their thirst satisfied, they grumbled about the lack of bread. God by his grace, did not rain judgment down on them, but manna, bread from heaven. He commanded them to collect just enough for that day. There would be more tomorrow. You know what happened. In a complete breakdown of trust, they hoarded the food. The food was full of maggots the next day. Moses was angry, but God patiently sent the manna, one day at a time, just enough for that day. Israel eventually learned what it meant to trust God for their “daily bread.”
Moses reflecting on this experience wrote:
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 Remember how the Lord led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna … to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Jesus also calls us back into the wilderness, where he longs to teach us to trust him for our daily bread, but that is the very place I fear. I want six months income in the bank so I can feel secure about my finances. I want the problems of my wife and kids to be small so I can feel good about myself as a father and a husband. I am not content with the bread for today. I want my house full of the stuff and then go out and rent a storage container when I run out of space. Why? Because I’m not really sure that God is going to provide tomorrow.
Jesus is calling us to something different. He wants us to live hand to mouth. He wants us to ask him for what we need for today and then watch with delight as he provides and then the next morning get up and ask him the same thing. He never grows tired of caring for even the smallest of our needs. He wants us to walk with him in the desert, trusting him every step of the way. We are no longer slaves, but neither have we reached heaven. The desert is a needy and thirsty place. It is there that we encounter the God who provides our daily bread. It is there where we learn to pray. It is there we discover what it means to trust him.
Our Daily Bread is part of a series of posts on praying the Lord’s Prayer.