Our Daily Bread
Today I found myself pondering the following line from the Lord's Prayer:
"Give us this day our daily bread..."
It's a strange thing to pray, isn't it? I mean, most of us have prayed those words before, either in church or in some other religious context.
Maybe we've even prayed them on our own---in a moment when we couldn't think of what to pray, and the Lord's Prayer came to mind, so we prayed it... along with those words.
What does that line even mean, though?
Was Jesus teaching his followers to focus on actual sustenance, or something deeper and more spiritually focused? Was he reminding them to not be so preoccupied with having enough that they lose themselves in materialism and greed?
Even though those are all possible implications of his teaching, I believe that Jesus was thinking more deeply.
Let me explain by first sharing some thoughts on the Lord's Prayer by Thich Nhat Hahn, the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist master.
The Kingdom is not for tomorrow, the Kingdom is not a matter of the past. The Kingdom is now. We need food today... We need to be alive in each moment. We need the kind of food that makes us alive in every moment of our life so that we can nourish our faith, our live, our solidity and our tolerance. We desperately need that kind of food.
Can I tell you that when I read that, I just about came out of my chair? You see, I have had a similar thought about the idea of "daily bread" for some years now, but didn't really have the words to articulate it well.
Leave it to Hahn, a Buddhist master, to teach me something about my own tradition. And the fact that he does it with such care and respect for the teachings of Jesus is just overwhelming.
You see, at the heart of what Jesus was teaching through this part of the Prayer is that we only have today. Worrying about tomorrow or dwelling on the past won't bring us any closer to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus wanted his followers to be fully awake, fully alive in the present moment. He taught this and embodied it over and over again to his disciples, reminding them over and over again that the Kingdom of God was "within them."
This is so important for us in our current culture because we are seldom fully present. The world around us is full of distractions, demands on our time, and a constant barrage of information, images, impressions, and the like.
We worry and fret about a future we can't control, and a past we can't change. We fill our days with busyness and wear our jam-packed schedules like a badge of honor.
And all the while our present moments slip away from us, and we deny ourselves the countless experiences of the Kingdom breaking through all around us, right here, right now.
Instead, we should be praying fervently for our "daily bread"---the food that will make us alive in the present, ready to experience eternal life that starts now. This is what Jesus wanted for his followers, and for all who would seek a deeper Divine connection.
May you discover the beauty of this wonderful part of the Greatest Prayer, and may you find all that you need for your daily bread, today at this moment, and at every moment after it, and forever.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.