“Our Father, who art in heaven”
It’s the start of a really famous prayer.
It’s full of grand things: hallowedness. trespassing. kingdoms. glory. They are the kind of images that fit well with the majestic songs of Christmas.
Buried in the middle of the prayer is a simple daily request. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
It doesn’t feel like a demand. I hear it as a request, actually. There is a poignancy to it. At a time when day laborers depended on receiving their wages daily so they could buy that day’s bread, this is a request for basic human needs. For a people whose ancestors wandered for decades in a wilderness eating bread delivered daily, this was a contemporary expression of an ancient reality. For those who understood that ancient manna as a graceful provision from God, this prayer acknowledged the sameness of that God from generation to generation.
But we, we have bank accounts and our paydays come weeks apart. We can afford tortillas for pennies each, or day-old french bread for less than half a day of our data plan. Prayer for daily bread seems a sentimental reference to a God we used to need.
Except on Monday perhaps.
Today, we need a fresh delivery of something basic that will sustain us through the day. We need a simple meal at a simple table with a quiet, thoughtful, caring friend with the power to give us exactly what we need for the day. We need to make it through the day with just enough awareness of the presence of God that, when we go to bed and review our morning, we can say “You did! Today you gave me bread.”
And with that crumb we may be able to start tomorrow with the same request.