Jesus’ petition for bread is a call to for God to provide in meeting our basic human needs. Matthew says give us this day our daily bread, and Luke in 11:3 says Give us each day our daily bread.
God commanded that only unleavened bread would be eaten during the Passover to commemorate the hastiness of their departure from Egypt, and for use in offerings. The shew-bread, or bread of the face, or of the presence, because it was set forth before the face or in the presence of the Lord God in his holy place. Twelve unleavened loaves represented the twelve tribes. It was a testimony that the place of the 12 tribes was to be continually before the Lord. So, while unleavened bread became a symbol of purity and following God, Leaven causes bread to rise and be puffed up, a symbol of pride and self-sufficiency. (see 1 Cor 5:7-8).
Bread meant survival, and so in our verse today bread stands for all of the things needed for our daily sustenance.
Now, Jesus’ admonition to pray for daily bread called to mind the great miracle that God did for the Israelites as He provided food for them in the wilderness. In Exodus 16:4-35. And Israel did not forget this. In Psalm 78:24 24 He rained down manna upon them to eat, And gave them food from heaven. 25 Man ate the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance.
Notice, especially in the parallel passage in Luke, that he says Give us each day our daily bread. Now, in our human nature, we want to ask God for a whole warehouse full of bread—enough to last us a lifetime, so we won’t have to ask again.
He wants us to know our provision comes from Him
If God gave us every provision for our entire life at the beginning, we’d just live like kings (literally on the throne of our own lives) for however many years the provision lasted. Jesus, being wise, urges us to pray for our daily bread and all of our material needs are meted out day-by-day. Like rations necessary for survival during the coming day, we pray that God provides. And He does. In Philippians 4:19 Paul assures us “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” God supplies our needs out of His storehouses. Wouldn’t you rather look to God’s riches to supply your need than your own?
He wants us to keep up communication with Him
Because God gives us our daily bread, it means that we must communicate with Him each day to ask for our daily bread. This day-by-day existence keeps us praying. God knows our needs before we ask (Matt6:31-2). But, we are to take our needs and those of others to God’s throne of grace in prayer. Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
He wants to change the desires of our hearts
But, in order to know what to ask for, we need to be in the will of God for our lives. God isn’t going to give us something that will harm us. When we are in the will of God for our lives in our prayer life, our life in our church with our brothers and sisters, our life in our work as we accomplish what needs to be done during the day—as we come under submission to Him as King, then we find that we change what we are asking for to align with His will. We start to care more about what He wants.
God is the Source–I am the bread of Life
You know God is not really interested in becoming your heavenly ATM, or your celestial slot machine. That would do you no good, and in fact would undermine His drawing you to Him. Jesus makes this point to some of the 5,000 who had been fed on loaves and fishes in John 6:26 saying 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate some of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” They were only seeking Jesus, so that they could get another free lunch. They were missing the point. They asked Him in verse 228-29 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What are we to do, so that we may accomplish the works of God?” And Jesus points them right back to God in verse 29 saying 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” They keep trying to accomplish in their own strength—what work do we have to do for God. And Jesus says Believe in God; Trust Him for provision. But they didn’t get it. Some of the rabbis had taught that the coming of the Messiah would open up again the storehouses of Heaven, and once again God’s people would eat Manna from heaven, just as the Israelites did in the wilderness. In fact, in verses 30-31, they ask Him point-blank 30 So they said to Him, “What then are You doing as a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work are You performing? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’”. But had Jesus just kept multiplying loaves and fishes, then they would have failed to see what God really had in store for them. Jesus wasn’t pointing them to the provision, but to the Provider—to God Himself. And when the people, as they always do, try to give Moses the credit for the Manna, Jesus comes back in verse 32 with 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. So, once again Jesus points them to God as the provider of their daily sustenance. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.” He is speaking of Himself, who gives life to the world by completing His mission to provide salvation for the world on the cross. 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; the one who comes to Me will not be hungry, and the one who believes in Me will never be thirsty.