Our Daily Bread?
My friend Christine was surprised by her daughter’s tears.
“Emma, what’s wrong?” she asked.
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to go to college,” she sobbed.
“But, honey, your grades are great. What are you worried about?”
“You and Dad say college is getting so expensive and the economy is terrible,” Emma said. “I’m afraid there won’t be enough money.”
It took time, but Christine was able to address her daughter’s fears, assuring her that they had been saving for her education and that there would likely be financial aid as well.
This incident reminds me of something in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus urges his disciples to ask for many lofty things. He begins by teaching them to address God as their Father in heaven and urges them to make his name holy, or hallowed. He teaches them to pray for God’s Kingdom to come and his will to be done. Then, in the middle of the prayer, he veers in a far more practical direction, teaching them to pray for daily bread. By using the term bread, he is referring to food in general.
New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey points out the uncertainty about the translation “daily” because it is based on the Greek word epiousios, a word that appears nowhere else in recorded Greek writings. Basing his interpretation on a very early translation of Scripture, he makes a persuasive case that this phrase is best translated not as “Give us this day our daily bread” but as “Give us today the bread that does not run out.” While the first form of prayer asks for enough for today, the second asks God to relieve us of the ongoing anxiety that we will not have what we need. Yes, we may get bread today, but what about tomorrow and the day after that?
The next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, remember that you are asking your heavenly Father to deliver you from the fear of not having what you need. By alleviating that fear, God helps us enjoy a sense of peace and well- being, not only about today, but also about tomorrow and the day after that.