Not Too Much; Not Too Little

Text:  Exodus 16:2-8 and Proverbs 30:7-9

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

What do we mean when we say ‘daily bread?’ 

What do we mean when we ask for ‘daily bread’ in the Lord’s Prayer?

Are we praying for a communion unleavened bread wafer?  Are we praying for flour, flour that is cooked with yeast and water?  Or are we praying for something else other than a wheat product? 

The words, ‘daily bread,’ seem to refer to simple baked bread; however, when we pray for our daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer, we are actually making a very comprehensive request.  In other words, when we ask for daily bread, we are asking for everything that is necessary for us to live and exist in this earthly life.  This includes bread and it also includes all other foods, as well as water, clothing, land, shelter, shoes, money, coats, beds, supplies, and even air to breathe.  That is right, when we pray for daily bread we are praying to the Father for everything that has to do with the support and needs of our physical bodies.

Now, even though the Lord provides and gives these blessings bountifully, even to pagans, the Lord wishes you and me to ask for these physical blessings, so that we may realize that we have received all of it from His hand.[1]  Yes, we pray in this fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer that God would lead us to realize that He is the one that gives daily bread and that we can receive this daily bread with thanksgiving.[2]  

And yet, even though the Lord provides daily bread for you and for me – exactly what we need and not what we think we need – we grumble.  Tragically, the daily bread never seems to be enough for us poor miserable sinners; we always feel as if we are shortchanged.  On the other hand, if we are not complaining about being shortchanged, it seems that we complain about having too much daily bread for us to handle.  Indeed, we either complain due to not having enough daily bread or we complain with having too much.  We grumble and grumble and grumble. 

We see this grumbling in our Old Testament reading from Exodus 16 as well.  In Exodus 16 we hear that the Israelites are full of grumbling; a grumbling that turns into complaining unbelief – even accusation against the Lord.  As a result, God hears their grumbling and graciously provides them manna –that is bread - from heaven.  This manna – this bread – was provided so that the Israelites would know that it was the Lord that brought them out of Egypt.  It was provided so that they might see the glory of the Lord.  It was provided as a gift to sustain Israel’s need of food and nutrients.   

Though you and I do not get special manna from heaven delivered upon our front lawns, we are really no different from Israel – the Lord daily provides for our bodily needs.  For starters, the Lord has blessed us with the absence of contention, murder, sedition, war, famine, drought, plagues, and catastrophic storms.  He has also given us shelter, clothing, protection, food, and drink.  All daily bread; all gifts; all for you and for me!  However, this daily bread is not good enough for us.  We grumble and want more.  We want today’s manna; we want tomorrow’s manna; we want our neighbor’s manna, as well.  And in seeking to keep our bellies full of manna, we hoard and scrape and store it up for ourselves, only to find that we are holding on to moldy bread with clinched grumbling fists, rather than open hands gratefully receiving the gift of daily bread.  We can so easily resort to grumbling bitterness of unbelief.

For grumblers, like you and me, it is not enough to be spared from natural calamity and it is not enough to have a regular fill of daily bread, we want our daily fill and our neighbor’s as well.  And then when we have accumulated daily bread from every nook and cranny of life, we complain because we have too much.      

Because of this we pray the Lord’s Prayer.  We pray in the third petition that we would see and realize the divine providence of God who provides us our daily bread.  We pray that we would be freed from our grumbling to see our daily sustenance as coming from God.  We pray that our selfishness would be crucified, so that we might share with those who are unable to work and those in need.  We pray that we would be able to see that God makes the earth fruitful and blesses us with the ability to work and receive all things from Him.  We pray that we would be freed from worrying about the future, freed to live contently in the confidence that the Lord will give us what we need day by day.

Dear friends, stated bluntly, everything that we have – from the air that we breathe to the socks on our feet; from the clothes that we wear to the food that we eat – is all divine gift!  We can take zero credit for any of it.  It is all gift.  If God were to withdraw His hand, nothing would prosper or last for any length of time.  Therefore, when we grumble over wanting more daily bread, we are not only communicating that we don’t trust God for our daily needs, but we are also inadvertently communicating that God somehow owes us our daily bread.  We demonstrate our unbelief and we are actually accusing the Lord.[3]    

O Lord have mercy on us. 

There is another reason why we pray this petitions of the Lord’s Prayer and that is due to the evil one.  You see, the devil’s whole purpose is to either take away or interfere with God’s gift of daily bread or to give us so much daily bread that we no longer trust the Lord.  In other words, the devil not only attempts to kill, steal, and destroy our faith through spiritual lies, but he also attempts to overthrow and obstruct the gifts of daily bread.  If murder, war, famine, unrestful governments, and rampant diseases, can prevent and impede daily bread for people, the devil is all for that.  On the other hand, if the devil can convince you and me to unjustly take our neighbor’s daily bread; he may be able to get us to a place of security where we trust in the daily bread itself and not the giver of the daily bread.

And so, we pray.  We pray against our grumbling and against the devil.  We pray for our daily bread.  We pray that we would realize that our entire life and all that we have depends on the Lord.  We pray that our grumbling flesh would be crucified.  We pray that the devil would be subdued.  We pray that the Lord would give us daily bread, just like He did for the Israelites, so that we would daily rest in the good gifts that are given to us, gifts for our physical needs. 

Blessed Baptized Saints, the Lord is so very good to us.  All that we have is gift.  Gifts given to us.  Not too much that we become full with riches and then tempted to rely on these things, rather than God.  And not too little, that we are tempted to steal.  But just enough to sustain us day to day, as we continually receive the gifts of Word and Sacraments for the forgiveness of our sins. 

Air, food, water, clothing, shelter, shoes, land, money, goods, peace, eternal life, salvation, and forgiveness:  all given for you and for me from our Gracious Lord.       
Lord, teach us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” as you surely do give to each and every one of us our daily bread as well as daily forgiveness. 

In the name of Jesus:  Amen.

[1] Martin Luther, The Large Catechism , Part III: The Lord’s Prayer. The Book of Concord Edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Fortress, 2000), 451.

[2] Ibid. 304.

[3] Ibid, 451.

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