“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:11-12, KJV).
Much like Oprah, I love bread. Toasted, warm wheat. Fluffy or flakey biscuits. Sticks of bread covered in salt and/or garlic (and preferably served alongside a salad at Olive Garden). Brown and served with some butter to spread on it. I’m starting to make myself hungry, so I’m going to stop now, but I think you get my point. Bread is good.
Bread is also pretty fundamental. Some restaurants serve bread as a free appetizer. Back in my day, when we learned about the food pyramid in health class, carbs and grains (i.e., bread) made up the biggest section, holding up the rest of the pyramid. And when we say, “That’s your bread and butter,” in regards to a craft, it means that it’s part of the foundation of what your doing and that you’ll be doing it frequently.
Jesus petitions God for bread because it’s critical to His survival. It was what He physically would’ve needed. He could’ve asked for a side of marinara sauce or asked that the bread be served as a side to a meat and two veggies, but He didn’t because they weren’t as necessary.
It’s not to say that we shouldn’t ask for what we want. It’s to say that we should put our needs first. This seems like common sense, but I work at a bank and can tell you that people don’t always do this. God doesn’t want us to have a bare minimum life, but He wants to provide what we need first and foremost. He wants to bless us, but that doesn’t make Him a genie meant to fulfill our endless wishes.
Jesus calls it “our daily bread” not only because we need to eat daily, but because we should seek God and His provision daily.
Before my first car died and I had to get another (RIP Bartholomew. Gone but never forgotten), I didn’t have a car payment every month, so I had more expendable income. I was also on my mom’s car insurance instead of having my own, so that was even more money that I had to play with. I was by no means wealthy, but I didn’t feel the need to pray to God every day for provision. But now that a pretty decent chunk of my monthly paycheck goes toward my car and car insurance, I do seek and thank God for His provision daily. And don’t get me wrong: I know that the fact that I can afford the things I’m complaining about in this example makes me more fortunate than a lot of people, and I’m very grateful for what I have because I know I wouldn’t have it without God’s provision and blessings.
My relationship with God has to be a daily thing. If I call Him my Lord and Savior, if I rely on Him and look to Him and am thankful for Him, I need to do and express those things daily. Not because of what might happen to me physically. God loves me and is faithful even when I’m not. It’s about what that could do to me spiritually. Before long, one day turns into one week turns into one month, and I haven’t talked to God once. It creates space between me and God, which leaves room for other, more destructive things to come into my life.
In the same sense, damage is done to us when we withhold forgiveness from others. Both hold us back from our best.
In Luke 7, Jesus is eating at Simon the Pharisee’s house when an uninvited woman comes in and washes Jesus’s feet with her tears. She dries them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them. Simon gets mad, saying that if Jesus was who He says He is, He’d know He was being touched by a sinner. Jesus tells him a short parable of a creditor who forgave two debts, one ten times as much as the other. He then asks the Pharisee which would love the creditor more. He says the one who owed more, and Jesus tells him that he’s right.
“Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Luke 7:44-47, NRSV).
Like this woman, we’ve been forgiven of so much. Every single one of us owed a debt we could not pay. Then Jesus stepped in and paid it all for us.
How could we who have required so much forgiveness not extend it to others?
And the love that we feel for the God who forgives us, we’re not to store it up and hide it for ourselves. We’re to let it show and spread. God sees it, and others see it, and they see it through our actions and interactions. And that love and strength that we receive from God is evident in nothing more so than our ability to forgive.
People hurt us. People owe us. But there can never be a debt as big as the one God forgave us.
At this point in the Lord’s Prayer, we start getting into things that affect our everyday lives. It addresses our physical lives– asking God to provide what we need to survive and forgiving the people around us– and our spiritual lives– seeking God daily to know Him more and to find forgiveness. It’s about the things that run over from our relationships with God into our relationships with everyone.
By Carrie Prevette