Teach Me to Pray!: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

As an earlier post from Jeff Stivason made clear, this current installment of “Theology for Everyone” was inspired by Martin Luther’s fantastic little book on prayer entitled A Simple Way to Pray. In the spirit of truly offering theology to everyone, let me also recommend R.C. Sproul’s magnificent children’s book The Barber Who Wanted to Pray which focuses on the true story behind Luther’s book and even unpacks instructions from A Simple Way to Pray, but geared of course for children. I’ve read the book to my own kids countless times and have seen the fruit born out of its engaging story not only in their lives but also in my own!

With that let’s turn our attention to actually praying, or at least thinking through the practice of praying. Today we focus on Jesus’ words where he teaches us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread…” (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3).

I’m a firm believer in the practice of writing out my prayers. Not all the time, of course. But I’m often in the habit of filling up entire notebooks throughout each year with prayers. I enjoy the practice for two main reasons. First, it forces me to stay focused as I write out my thoughts; I’m far less likely to get distracted and allow my mind to veer off. Secondly, I can look back over my prayers from earlier in the year and really see the ways in which God has answered and worked according to what I’ve prayed. As John Flavel has so wisely counseled, it is the duty of every Christian to observe, remember and meditate upon God’s divine providence in their own lives.[1]

Why do I bring this up? Because I think writing out your prayers is an excellent way to do what we’re doing this week at Place For Truth, namely working through the Lord’s Prayer. When I look at that line in Matthew 6:11, my “simple way to pray” is to atomize each word or idea within it and thus use each word or thought as a stepping stone to jump off into my own prayers. So for instance:

Give us this day…

            “Lord, you are the Heavenly Provider, the Giver of all good gifts. ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change’ (James 1:17). I thank you Father for your goodness and love and the delight you have in giving and providing.”

Give us this day our daily bread…

            “Twice here we see the need for daily sustenance from your hand. We are reminded Lord that you are never slack in your giving; day after day you provide. Not only are your mercies renewed each day, but your giving never comes to an end! We praise you for that Father.”

            “And we are also reminded here that you give just enough for the day. Just as you provided just enough manna for your people wandering each day in the wilderness, so too you provide just enough for us as we sojourn here in this fallen world. ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God’ (Proverbs 30:8-9).”

            “Help me too Lord to come to you daily, lifting up my needs to you in prayer! As you delight to give, give me a greater delight to ask and to find my help in you.”

Give us this day our daily bread…

            “Lord, I turn my heart and mind to the family you’ve given me, making supplications on their behalf. I ask that you not only provide for them daily, but be pleased to use me as the means by which they’re taken care of and provided for. Help me to work hard on their behalf, not only feeding them with bread from the sweat of my brow but feeding them daily with the Bread of Christ.”

            “I pray as well for my church, and all the needs within my own local congregation. Your sheep are in need of green pastures and living water. There are serious cares weighing down particular members. I pray for them Lord and ask that they would find daily nourishment in your care.”

            “I pray as well for our nation, and ask that over-abundance of bread and prosperity would no longer make us blind to your sovereign rule. If spiritual nourishment will only come through physical hunger, so be it Lord, but I do pray for this country to seek you over and above the comfort and prosperity we’ve sought for so long.”

Give us this day our daily bread

            “Indeed Lord, we do thank you for all the material needs you’ve met and provided for. These are good, good gifts from your good hand. May we not forget you in this time of blessing. But Father we do pray that we would ultimately be nourished in Christ who is our Bread from Heaven, the Bread of Life.”

            “Father, you “give the true bread that comes from heaven, for the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). Give me this day more of Jesus, O Father, so that in Him I may not hunger. Give me Christ so that I might not go after the delights and temptations of this world. Feed me with Him, O Lord, and be pleased, I pray, to give me more of Christ day after day until I see him face to face in that Last Day. In His name I pray, amen.”

Stephen Unthank (MDiv, Capital Bible Seminary) serves at Greenbelt Baptist Church in Greenbelt, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.  He lives in Maryland with his wife, Maricel and their two children, Ambrose and Lilou.


[1] John Flavel, The Mysteries of Providence (Banner of Truth, 2009), 113-116.