Matthew 6:11

ESV Give us this day our daily bread,
NIV Give us today our daily bread.
NASB Give us this day our daily bread.
CSB Give us today our daily bread.
NLT Give us today the food we need,
KJV Give us this day our daily bread.

What does Matthew 6:11 mean?

This part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2) presents a model prayer. Jesus is using this as an example, to counter the faulty prayer methods He has just discussed (Matthew 6:5–8). He opened His prayer with the focus on God the Father and His holy name. The first request was for God's kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as in heaven (Matthew 6:9–10).

Only after submitting His prayer to the will of God does Jesus introduce the first request. Some commentators in history have suggested that the "bread" mentioned here is supposed to mean the spiritual food of the Word of God. Most interpreters insist Jesus is, in fact, referring to physical food. Where "bread" is a shorthand, here, would be in reference to a person's most basic and important needs.

In the modern era, many people—especially in the west—resist eating bread in order to be healthy or lose weight. Focusing too much on wheat, loaves, and such makes it difficult to grasp the dependence expressed by this prayer. This is especially true for those who have never had to wonder if they would be able to feed themselves, or their families on the following day. Many in the world, unfortunately, face that very challenge. Most of Jesus listeners, even if they weren't desperately poor, knew what it was like to face uncertainty in their basic needs.

Ancient laborers, including many Jewish people, were paid daily in exchange for their efforts. They often earned just enough to cover basic survival for the following day. Being sick or otherwise missing a day's wages meant genuine danger for them and those dependent on them.

Jesus did not instruct His followers to pray for a one-time permanent solution to their daily needs. He did not tell believers to ask for enough money to forever guarantee they could feed their families for days or weeks or years. The point Jesus makes here is to pray in dependence on the Father; to ask Him to meet the needs of each day. In doing so, He destroyed any idea that believers should be mostly self-reliant, checking in with God only when faced with a critical need. Instead, Jesus showed clearly that every child of God must be God-reliant for every need on every day.

In fact, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we are reliant on God for all things at all time. Every good gift we receive comes from Him and not from ourselves (James 1:17). The prayer for our daily bread is the humble expression that we understand that to be true.

This concept of "daily bread" provides important context when Jesus speaks about anxiety later in this chapter (Matthew 6:25–26). Parents often teach children the difference between "needs" and "wants." It's good to note the difference between survival and luxury. At the same time, dependence on God means realizing that what we "need" relates directly to His will, and His plans (Matthew 6:10). What we truly "need" is defined according to the purposes God has for us in that moment, as difficult as that can be to accept.
What is the Gospel?
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