It is interesting how we can say the same thing over and over again – as we do in the repetition of The Lord’ Prayer and even read commentaries about it, but not ‘get’ for ourselves what the passage is offering. It is also interesting to go back and see how a biblical passage gives and gives in different ways according to where you, the receiver, are at any given time.
This week I was reading and praying through Luke’s Lord’s Prayer (11: 1-6) and reading the notes at the bottom of my bible. Not for the first time I came across the note that goes alongside, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Another way of interpreting this line was, “Give us this day our bread for tomorrow.” For some reason, known I am sure to scholars, the first interpretation has become the one we all use.
But the second is very powerful and it got me thinking about a book called “Sleeping with Bread.” This book has this title because after the war when orphan children were collected together who had lived wild amongst the bombed out buildings of many major cities, it was found the children could not go to sleep at night unless they had a hunk of bread to clutch in their hands. They had so often gone hungry, so often been really afraid of starving that despite now being in a safe place, they were unable to trust that they would be looked after when they woke up: that there would be food on the table. As soon as they were given a hunk of bread they went to sleep, comfortable and confident.
Asking God for the bread we will need tomorrow is not about greed or wanting to rush things. It is about asking Him to give us today the trust that we need to face tomorrow: the trust in Him. At certain times this need is more powerful as we face life-changing experiences – illness and its treatment, bereavement, redundancy, retirement, the birth of a first baby, the children leaving home – and many other things.
So sometimes I will use, “Give us this day our bread for tomorrow,” because sometimes I need God to give me more trust in the future – the future I am walking with him – than I can find in myself. I need that bit of bread to clutch in my hand.