"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11) I love praying that every morning. You know why? Because then you get to say, "Thank you!" to God at every meal for answering your prayer. You ask for Him to take care of you, and then you get to watch Him work it out all day long.
You might say, "But I still eat three meals a day plus snacks even when I don't pray like that every morning." That's true, but do you not believe that all of those meals are gifts of God as He provides for you through your job, through grocery stores, through farmers, through rain and seed and growth? If you don't have a great sense of the awesome graciousness and sovereignty of God in providing for you, then you absolutely need to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" each morning and then watch how He does it.
But I don't think that provision through physical food is ultimately what that part of Jesus' model prayer is all about. Don't get me wrong, it is a prayer for our physical bread; it's just that we also need to remember that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).
When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him in John chapter 21, each time that Peter responded in the positive, Jesus came back with, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17). Jesus did not have any literal sheep; He had disciples: those who followed Him. And He was not asking Peter to put physical food in front of those followers; He was telling him to give them the Word of God.
In a very real sense, the "daily bread" that we need the most is the Word of God - and we need it daily!
But here's something that hit me as I was praying about that and meditating on it recently: I need the 'food' of God's Word that sustains my soul much more than I need the physical food that sustains my body; God's Word does and should give me more delight than physical food, and yet the one that I overeat is not the most beneficial one, but the physical one! I frequently eat more than I should, and I am not alone in that failing. I have thought more than once how I need to exercise some discipline in what dieticians call "portion control" in my meals. But here's the ironic thing: I exercise all kinds of portion control on how much of God's Word I take in!
I read three chapters of the Bible each morning. That's just a little shy of what it would take to read the whole Bible through in a year, but it simplifies things so that I don't have to carry around some list telling me how much to read. I very rarely ever read more than that. I take one breakfast meal of God's Word in the early morning with the portions expertly carved out, and then I don't snack or eat another meal all day. Meanwhile, I'm over here pigging out on all of this physical food that makes you fat and unhealthy!
It seems like what needs to happen - certainly for me, but probably for most other people as well - is that these two types of eating habits need to swap. I should have trouble stopping at just three bites of God's Word. I should get hungry for more later in the day and take little snacks of it here and there. I should eat a big helping later in the evening as well, and go to bed with all of that weight still digesting so that my dreams might even be filled with holy thoughts. And I should regulate my physical food as though it were really only necessary for my physical survival and therefore not to be overindulged. I should thank God for providing it and then eat only as much as I have to in order to maintain a healthy physical life.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if, by the grace of God, we could make that switch, and rob our sinful flesh of one more of its weapons that it uses to destroy us, all the while strengthening the new heart and new spirit that God has put within those of us who are His people? Amen, Father; help me truly learn that man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from your mouth.