Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Give us our daily bread

I was reflecting on the Lord's prayer from Matt 6:9ff the other day and it struck me that this petition of giving me daily bread might be more radical than I had previously supposed. I think I've always seen it as basically metaphorical for basic dependence upon God for the things we need in life as well as an allusion to the spiritual bread we get in Jesus. But I wonder actually whether the prayer presupposes a situation that is a lot more radically dependent than I have thought before. The 'problem' with the prayer is that we don't really 'have to pray it'. After all, we seem to have what we need, don't we? When did I last pray for my food or clothes? 

Yet, perhaps there is a presupposition built into this prayer that His disciples are to live so radically free from wealth and possessions that they obviously have to pray this prayer. Perhaps a more profound dependence is being assumed here so that it is obvious that daily bread really will not be there apart from specifically answered prayer. This context of radical dependence makes sense given the allusions to the dependent, pilgrim OT people of God within the petition itself (also alluded to in "lead us not into temptation"). Further, we have Jesus's teaching in 6:25-34 on worry/security/possessions. The commands there not to worry about what we eat or wear are actually quite mindblowing - and they assume a situation where you don't know where your food or clothes are coming from. The kind of dependence that disciples need is so radical because of their call away form trusting in wealth and possessions.