A Study of the Lord's Prayer
Session 3: How Much Is Enough?
Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman
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- What is your favorite food to eat?
- What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?
- What is the longest time you have gone without food?
For Your Information:
- The renderings of the Fourth Petition of the Lords Prayer in Matthew and Luke are
slightly different. Compare the following literal translations. Are any of the differences
Matthew: Our daily bread give us today
Luke: Our daily bread keep on giving us each day.
- Though Jesus did fast at times (Matthew 4.1-2), he was not an ascetic like John the
Baptist was. On Johns peculiar diet, see Matthew 3.4; on Jesus reputation as
one who ate and drank, see the negatively exaggerated claim in Matthew 11.19.
- When Jesus tells us to pray for "bread," does he mean it materially (that is,
actual bread and anything else we need for daily life such as shelter, clothing, etc.) or
spiritually (that is, the bread in the Kingdom of heaven which is to say, salvation)? Note
that the choice depends somewhat on how one interprets the adjective which is discussed
- The word which we usually translate as "daily" (epiousion) is a rare
word which appears first in the Gospels. Based on its stem roots, the following possible
meanings have been suggested:
- daily, for the current day, for today (according to military rations, a daily
ration of bread was one loaf)
- necessary for existence
- for the following day, for tomorrow
- future, is coming, next
- which pertains to, which belongs to
Plug each of these possible translations into one of the following:
"Give us today our _______ bread" or "Give us today our bread
Compare the various meanings each gives.
- Where else in the Bible are there stories about "bread"? Be sure at least to
look at the following passages and consider how they might relate to the petition in the
- Genesis 3.17-19
- Exodus 16.1-35
- Ecclesiastes 11.1
- Luke 12.22-31
- John 6.1-58
- Matthew 26.26
- Read Luther's explanations to the 4th Petition of the Lord's
You cannot say the
Lords prayer, and even once say "I".
You cannot pray the Lords prayer, and even once say "my".
Nor can you pray the Lords prayer and not pray for another.
For to ask for "our" daily bread, you include your sister and brother!
All Gods children are included in each and every plea.
From the beginning to the end of it, it does not once say "me".
For Your Consideration:
- This is the first time in the Lords Prayer that we directly give a command to God.
(The earlier petitions use a third person command which is vague about who fulfills the
requests.) What gives you the right to command God?!
- In the prayer, we tell God to "give" us daily bread. Does that mean we
dont have to work for it? To put the question another way, how does God
"give" daily bread?
- What are some things you need for daily life? What are some things you want for
daily life? What is the difference between wants and needs?
- If the bread for which we pray has something to do with daily rations, what would you
say is a sufficient ration? Could the size of the ration you need differ from day to day
or at different periods in your life?
- A story is told about a famous rabbi who was asked what kind of curse it was in the
creation story for the serpent to have to eat earth, since this was a food that would
always be available. He answered: "Humans are condemned to eat bread by the sweat of
their brow, so that if they weary of their labors they will cry out to God. Especially in
their distress they remain linked to God. But God has given the serpent everything it
needs, so that it will never turn to Him again." How would you relate this anecdote
to the petition in the Lords Prayer?
- What is the point of the story in Exodus 16.1-35 regarding manna in the wilderness? Does
it offer any insight into our interpretation of the Fourth Petition of the Lords
- Think about how you have interpreted this petition. Now consider whether it makes any
difference to your interpretation because it says "our" daily bread instead of
"my" daily bread.
- Does this petition encourage us to not worry about or plan for the future? (Is there a
difference between worrying and planning?) For example, if God takes care of all our daily
needs, should you be buying life insurance?
- In light of John 6.1-58, is it more important to desire the bread needed for this life
or the "Bread of Life"?
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.
- Examine your life style and carefully consider how much really is enough for you. Make
plans on how you can rightly use and distribute the rest.
- Pray the Lords Prayer when you first awake, sometime during the day, and just
before you go to sleep.
- Parents: teach the Lords Prayer to your children. Godparents: remember that you
promised to teach the Lords Prayer to your godchild when s/he was baptized.