SBTS chapel live blog: Give us this day: Or who knows what we need, when we don’t know what we need?

Communications Staff — April 14, 2009

Preacher: R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary

Text: Matthew 6:11-12, 14-15

If the Lord did not give us instruction in how to pray, we would not pray in a way that is honoring to Him. We would not pray as we ought.

Give us this day our daily bread

These words tell us that God is the Provider and we are the needy. Human beings are born with no ability to take care of themselves. We are nothing but need. As we grow up, we make think ourselves less needy, but in reality we are needy from conception to death.

How does the Fall function in our neediness? On the other side of the Fall, there is a greater need than bread.

God knows what we need before we know what we need. God knows what we need before we pray about what we need. We need to pray about our needs, because it reminds us of our need to rely on God as our Provider.

God made us to need food. The further away we get from a meal, the more insistently we think about the next one. As much as we would like to think that we have no ongoing needs, we are reminded by our hunger of our need.

This reminder of our physical need in the midst of this prayer seems mundane. It is a matter of human arrogance to deny that we have physical need. One of the most important things we need to know about ourselves as we come to the act of prayer is that we are naked and needy. This is not a matter of humility; it is a matter of telling the truth.

Again, this is not a generic prayer given to all people. It is a prayer given to God’s people, a new covenant people. It is only by the grace of God that we are in Christ and it is only Christ that we can pray this prayer with its rightful meaning.

Because we have God as our Father, we know that He knows our needs, but it is right that we bring them to His attention so that we bring them to our own attention. God will meet the needs of His children.

It is a slander to the character of God to say that physical needs are beneath Him. When we pray, we are reminded of our need for God’s provision. And we are reminded of the recurring consistency of our need. What we are praying for is just enough for this day.

We need daily bread.

The fact that we need food, reminds us that we are made of dust. It reminds us that we are not God. It reminds us that as full as we will be in this moment, we will be hungry the next.

Why bread?

Why not meat? Bread is a central metaphor in Scripture. Food is so central to what it means to be human that it comes up again and again through the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, bread is central. Whose minds are not drawn to the manna in the wilderness, when we think of break in the Old Testament?

God used the manna to take care of His covenant people in the Old Testament. God provided the manna daily. This is a lesson we should not miss. In Deut. 8, Moses spoke of God providing for His people in the wilderness. God provided His people manna, so that they might realize that man does not live on bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.

God humbles us and lets us be hungry, as He did with His covenant people in the Old Testament, in order that we know His provision and the sweetness of it. But God also does so that we know that live by everything proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

Throughout the Old Testament, we are reminded that the bread points to something greater. Israel did not know the bread that we know. All those who ate manna died. All those who ate the bread of successive generations died. There is a yearning here for a bread that is merely daily, but that leads to everlasting life.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the house of bread. In His temptations, Jesus turned back to Deut. 8 and reminded us all that man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of the Father.

At the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus fed the crowds with bread. The crowds were filled. But then the crowds became hungry again and they came back for more food.

Later Jesus tells people about the bread of God that comes out of heaven and gives life to the world: ‘I am the bread of life. He comes to me will not hunger and he who believes in me will never thirst’ (John 6:35).

Manna kept people alive day by day. Those who feed on Christ receive everlasting life. Jesus says in John 6, I am the bread of life: feed on me. This is a clear reference to sacrifice and substitution.

The Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder of this sacrifice. It causes us to look back on the death of Christ and it also causes us to look forward to His return.

Marriage supper of the Lamb

On the other side of the consummation of all things and of our glorification, we will still feed. But we will feed at the banquet table of God’s delight. We will be there because we knew our need of sin. We knew the need for redemption. We found life because we fed upon Christ and we will feed upon Him eternally.

It all starts with this two-fold reality: our need and God’s provision. Give us this day our daily bread. And of this eternal bread: give us of it forevermore.

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