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Our Daily Bread


I could count on one hand the number of times in my entire life when I did not have enough food for one day. In fact, I rarely have less than a whole week's supply of food (or money to get it) available to me.


So when I come to the line in the Lord's Prayer where I am supposed to ask God for my "daily bread", I usually rewrite it altogether. In fact, most often I pray something like, "Help me not to eat MORE than my daily bread today."

Never before in history has there been a time when the poorest people in a country suffered more from obesity than from malnutrition, and yet that is the situation in most (if not all) of the developed world today.

But it has struck me that I may have missed the point all these years. The prayer doesn't ask me to pray for MY daily bread. It asks me to pray for OUR daily bread. There is room for a lot of differences with regard to whom we include in that word "our". (See "Our Father".) But one thing we can all agree on is that "our" is not "my".

My immediate family is not going without. Nor are other members of our community. But on a global level, malnutrition is still very much a reality. The "developed world" is still a minority on this planet. Every night, millions of innocent children go to bed hungry in much of the developing world. And even if one took the attitude that "our" only refers to professing Christians, there are countries where fellow Christians go hungry as well.

We have recently come face to face with the needs of thousands of orphans in Africa. Millions of Africans have died from the AIDS epidemic, and their children have been left to fend for themselves. There are far too many orphans to be accommodated in the country's few orphanages, so most of these children wander the streets. Some are able to sleep, alone, in the huts built by their parents before they died. But they have no food. Some families in the villages have taken six to eight orphans into their homes and shared what little they have with them. Some churches have provided a bowl of beans each day to those orphans still on their own. But this can hardly be considered enough to constitute their "daily bread".

It is my job, and the job of all professing Christians to at least start praying for these hungry people, that God will give them enough food to eat. But wait a minute. The prayer isn't "Give them today their daily bread." It is "Give US today OUR daily bread." When I see those hungry orphans as part of my family, I cannot escape my personal responsibility to do what I can to feed them. Give them the gospel? Yes. Give them an education? Yes. But also give them their daily bread... even if it must come from MY daily bread.

Somewhere between my daily bread and their (lack of) daily bread, we must come to see the bigger picture... that all of it is "our" daily bread. What I eat or throw away is really coming from their mouths. What I spend on non-essentials is contributing to their poverty.

As long as even one innocent child goes to bed hungry, I must continue to pray that God will give us (this larger family of ours) enough food to see us all through another day. And I must be open to ways that he can use me to provide answers to my own prayer.
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