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Daily bread

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

This then is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13).

I have believed for a long time that this expression “Give us today our daily bread”, refers to our earthly food, and that each day we should ask God to provide for our needs. As Christians we are children of God and we pray to our heavenly Father. But in reality children don’t need to ask their natural father for their food because he normally provides for their daily needs without them worrying about them.

It’s for the same reason that Jesus said in his sermon on the mount, “So don’t worry saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:31-32). Will Jesus contradict himself in the same sermon then? No, for he never contradicts himself, but he was talking about different things.

In effect, it is those who don’t know the Father who worry; but we, if we believe in the whole Word of God, we are not to have this sort of worry.

In fact in this prayer, Jesus taught his disciples of the necessity to come each day into the intimacy of the Father so that he might meet their spiritual needs. Because it is in this secret intimacy with Him that we are going to receive what we need spiritually. In these moments, the door of our heart being closed to the outside world, we are able to experience the need of respecting and honouring the name of God who is holy. We feel then the necessity to sanctify ourselves each time that we come into His presence, even if only for a few moments.

Jesus tells us to ask that “God’s reign comes on the earth”. In effect, God is in heaven He does whatever he wishes (Psalm 115:3), that is to say that He reigns over all things in the heavenly places, and Jesus’ desire is that He reigns also on earth as in heaven. That’s why he needs us so that His will is fulfilled.

What does our heavenly Father do?

Each day God prepares something special for us (His will) that we should accomplish. Jesus said to his disciples, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). So if we count ourselves among His disciples we will obey Jesus our Master in everything. Thus the expression “give us today our daily bread” will take on another significance: this daily bread will become “God’s will” to fulfil daily. Jesus asks us expressly then, to come each day into the intimacy of the Father to feed us this bread of fulfilling His will.

There are two things to pick out: the permanent will and the daily will of God. His permanent will consists of giving and receiving forgiveness (Matthew 6:12) and to resist the trials (temptations) of the devil, thanks to Jesus (Matthew 6:13). This is valid for every day of our lives. And His daily will is that we go and find Him each day.

When they were in the desert, the Hebrews had to gather the manna they needed each day (and a double portion on the eve of the Sabbath). In the same way, each day, we need to receive fresh food for our spirit and our soul; that is to say, we need to receive the will of God in order to fulfil it. Yesterday’s manna is of no use for today, except for our day of rest, which is entirely consecrated to Him.

That is how the Holy Spirit acts with the disciples of Jesus Christ: “Each morning He awakens their ear so they hear like disciples hear” (Isaiah 50:4). And here is the response of a true disciple: “The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears and I have not been rebellious, I have not drawn back” (Isaiah 50:5).

Why is it so important to know His will?

God has established some eternal spiritual principles; here is a very important one:

So is my word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty but will achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

If we want to see change on the earth, and particularly around us, we must proclaim the Word of God. This is the goal of the disciple - to bring in the will of God and to fulfil it on the earth so that His reign is established.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater” (Isaiah 55:10).

When the disciple comes before the Father to seek His will, he comes in faith to seek seed for the coming day and food for his soul.

It is therefore evident that, if we do not come to seek “our daily bread” before our Heavenly Father, we will have neither the strength to forgive nor the strength to pass the tests and resist the devil, and we will not fulfil His will for this day.

The daily relationship with the Father is then vital for each disciple of Jesus Christ, who constitute the foundation of the Kingdom of God on the earth. In effect, multiplication is only possible through the disciples (the sowers) who form the Church.

What is a disciple?

Here is what Jesus says:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

The disciple follows Jesus for He is his master. He goes then, every day, before the Heavenly Father to leave his own will and seek the will of God to fulfil. It is often painful to abandon his personal desires, but this is the cross we must carry – to die to ourselves, so that God can reign.

The process is important so we can work in the Kingdom of God: “… whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19), for that is the will of God!

Prayer, as described in Matthew 6:9-13, is therefore the foundation of the disciple’s life! It is a “heart to heart” with our Father and it is an exchange of will: “Not my will but Yours!” (John 6:38).

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