My grandparents used to have a woodcut picture in their kitchen based on a famous scene of two peasants in a field. In the background, a church bell rang to mark the end of the day. In the foreground, a small basket of potatoes laid on the ground. The two peasants hovered over it, with heads bowed, thanking God for the fruits of their labor. Though it was small, it was enough. They thanked God for enough.
Continuing our series, we look at the next petition in Jesus’ pattern for prayer, “Give us each day our daily bread (Luke 11:3).”
Ironically, while the ancients welcomed this prayer, many in twenty-first century America may be less inclined to. Notice Jesus does not implore us to pray for a brand new pick-up truck with all the options but only what will suffice to safely get us from point “a” to point “b”. He does not suggest we pray for rib-eye steak but only daily bread.
Few who have the means to purchase this newspaper or the online access to read this article know the feeling of worrying about what they will eat today. There are people who, like back then, worry about getting enough sustenance to get through today. Many in our society find they have more than enough.
The author or Proverbs said: “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 30:8-9)
When we pray for daily bread we pray both for our daily needs to be supplied, but also for contentment when we have enough and charity when we have more than enough. The prayer reminds us that many all over the world go without. It encourages those with more to give to those with less, thus allowing God to use them as his hand to bring food to the mouth of those in need of basic nourishment.
The pastor poet Malcom Guite once wrote of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness, “He feels the famine of the ones who lose.” In a world where an increasing number define success in terms of material surplus, may we follow the footsteps of our Master and pray for enough and give the surplus to those who otherwise would go without.