In Mathew 6: 11 we are instructed to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” For Jesus, this prayer has a dual meaning, one being toward heaven and the other toward the physical world. Jesus lived in both worlds by needing the things that would sustain the human body as well as needing what which sustained the spiritual body.
When asked by someone if they could follow him Jesus said that he had no home to live in. With no home he would be dependent on the kindness of others for a place to sleep, food to eat and for clothing. In the Jewish house hold if a stranger were to come to their home they would have provided a place to sleep as well as protection, food, and any need that they had. This is seen in the Old testament when the angels visited Lot and his family (Gen 19), and in the New Testament when Jesus was on the Emmaus road with two travelers (Luke 24: 13 – 35). Jesus often traveled outside of the Jewish community and not be welcomed as a guest. Being dependent upon God, God would direct were to travel for those needs to be met.
In his spiritual Jesus was just as dependent on the grace of God to provide what was needed to keep his spirit strong. We often see Jesus in prayer, this would keep the communication open between them. Through prayer Jesus could say nothing except the father had told him. God kept Jesus from sin (not temptations), and encourage him often, ie. the following of believers. By his action Jesus wanted the believers to have this same trust in God.
The believers were to pray for their needs not their wants. A story that I like to tell is of a priest who prayed for a station wagon to transport people, but God said he only needed a compact car. The background for this story is the station wagon seen in front of a catholic church with both ends smashed in support of “project graduation”, (non alcoholic party for graduates). The prayers continued for some time because God wanted the priest to have a compact car. God finally gave in and dropped the station wagon from heaven and upon landing bounced first on the front and then on the back with a great deal of damage. The priest thanked God for the car but after inspecting the car reconsidered and told God that a compact car would be a much better choice for him. The first followers were dependent in that they shared meal together and at times were removed from their homes. History tells us that many of the followers move out of Israel to find a new home and to spread the good news. They would need the daily needs for their journey as well to set up their new homes. They would also need their daily bread to protect them from falling in to sin. God would provide a way to escape the temptation and would tell them what to say when they needed to share the good news. Jesus told them not to worry about what has already happened because we can not change the pass nor to worry about tomorrow because it is in the future. To day has enough problems to worry about. This does not mean we should not plan for the future but not to worry about it. God knows what we need before we ask for it but we need to acknowledge our dependance upon him for our needs.
In our world today this part of the prayer is still very much needed. The temptation to sin or to fall away for God is great. The world has many things to worry about, illness, family, money, wars. Can we rely on God for our daily needs? As we imitate Jesus, he will give us the strength that we need each day.