Why you need the ‘daily bread’ of prayer
When I evaluate my own prayers, I realize that I don’t usually pray for “daily” bread. I usually pray for “yearly” bread or “decades” of bread.
I’m thankful that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, mostly because prayer is a struggle for me. Talking to an invisible God in an empty room is unlike anything else I do in my life. The Lord’s Prayer has long served as an essential guide to lead me into communing with God. However, one particular aspect of this prayer has been especially challenging for me. In Matt. 6:11, Jesus tells his disciples to pray not just for “bread,” but for “daily bread.” He expanded on this theme a few verses later in Matt. 6:34, exhorting, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” It seems to me that Jesus wants his followers to ask for prayer needs that are most pressing in each current day. Several aspects of this strike me as challenging.
Instead of worrying about what I want or may need for tomorrow, God wants me to ask him to provide what I need today. Jesus said that tomorrow will take care of itself, I need to focus on today. This isn’t profound, I know. Yet, this is an area with which I struggle to be obedient.
When I evaluate my own prayers, I realize that I don’t usually pray for “daily” bread. I usually pray for “yearly” bread or “decades” of bread. For example, I would pray, “Lord, make Noah, AvaGrace, and Keller (my children) men and women after your own heart. Grow Misty (my wife) into a godly woman. Prepare each of my children a godly mate to marry at the proper time.” These are good prayers, just not ‘daily bread’ prayers.
Learning to ask
This causes me to ask myself, “What would these prayers look like if they were ‘daily bread’ prayers?” My prayers begin to take on a different form. I begin praying, “Lord, give Noah, AvaGrace, and Keller grace to grow in you today. Give me eyes to recognize opportunities to teach each of them about you today. Give Misty precious time in your presence. Show her something new about you today that your Spirit would use to sanctify her. Do a work today in Noah, AvaGrace and Keller that would lead to developing them into the kind of person who would attract a godly spouse. In my own heart, show me some sin that I am overlooking right now that I may come to you in repentance that I may walk more closely to you today.”
Why is this so important? First, we don’t live in tomorrow. We live in today. Tomorrow never comes. Second, a lifetime of praying for daily bread will yield a lifetime of provision from God.
Why would God design prayer this way? Let’s look at two more strange verses, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:7-8). That sounds strange to many of us because we often approach God like he needs us to tell him what we need so that he can provide it. Not true. This is not why God created prayer. He already knows what we need. God created prayer so that we might experience the blessing of living in daily fellowship with him. He is glorified as we enjoy his daily presence in our lives.
This is what ‘daily bread’ prayers accomplish. If all we get from God is what we need today, then guess what we have to do tomorrow…go back and spend time with him again.
Daily bread prayers followed by God’s daily bread provision develops daily faith in God’s children. This is why God commanded his people during their wilderness journey to only gather enough manna for the day. Manna gathered for tomorrow would always spoil. Unless it was gathered for the Sabbath, of course (cf. Ex. 16).
Let me give an analogy to illustrate what Jesus is saying. Let’s say instead of bread, God is handing out water at a well. Let’s pretend that we go to the well, and he gives us all the water we will ever need for a lifetime. We would leave the well, likely never to return. We would have no need to. We would likely end up traveling far away from the well because we would have little reason to stay. However, what if when we went to the well, God only gave us the water we needed for that day. Tomorrow we would find ourselves back at the well getting water for that day. We would build our houses next to the well. We would live next to the well. This is what God desires from us, to live next to the well. Daily bread prayers keep us close to the open, outstretched hands of God. God uses his daily provision to develop in us daily faith which assures joy in his daily presence.
May we all plant our lives close to the well through daily bread prayers.