“Give us this day our daily bread…” (Matthew 6:11)
Jesus is using the symbol of bread here to represent all our needs. We are a veritable basket of needs: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This first personal petition should not be limited to our need for food, but all our needs.
Observe the concept ‘one day at a time’ is repeated twice in this petition of just seven words. Alcoholics with years of sobriety tell me that when they took their first step, they could not entertain the thought of being sober for more than one day.
This prayer of Jesus prescribes that we pray ‘this day’ and ‘daily’ when we present our needs to our Heavenly Father. This principle of one day at a time is a proven therapy that has made the difference between life and death for some of my closest friends who are celebrating many years of sobriety.
Observe how Jesus concludes His teaching about values with the same emphasis later in Matthew 6: “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:34)
We read in the book of Numbers that when God miraculously provided bread from Heaven in the wilderness, the Israelites were only permitted to collect enough manna for one day. That story, recorded in Numbers 11, is also applicable to the one-day-at-a-time principle Jesus prescribes in the prayer He taught us to pray.
When we apply the story of that manna miracle to our daily devotions, we should make the application that we cannot hoard our experience of a word from God or the blessings of a time in the presence of God. We must have our souls and spirits nourished with heavenly manna every day, one day at a time.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Prayer