Beckett: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” – Recognition & Thanksgiving

What does this mean? “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving” (SC, The Fourth Petition).

The Lord’s Prayer mirrors the Ten Commandments. Just as Commandments 1-3 concern our relationship with God and Commandments 4-10 concern our relationship with our neighbour, so petitions 1-3 in the Lord’s Prayer are concerned with heavenly things and petitions 4-7 with earthly things. The first earthly matter the Lord promises to answer in this prayer is giving us our daily bread, that is, all we need in body and soul in this life on earth.

Therefore, we pray before every meal that we may realise this and express our thanksgiving to God. We also pray before every meal to prepare for the best meal of the week: the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, which are our deepest spiritual needs. Our meal prayers throughout the week imitate the prayer Jesus gave when He instituted the Holy Supper, “that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks,” etc. (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). Our meal prayers therefore anticipate the holy meal of the Lord’s Supper.

It is good to memorise meal prayers. The one I always like to pray before receiving a meal comes from the Small Catechism, “‘The eyes of all look to You, [O LORD], and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing’ [Psalm 145:15-16]. Lord God, heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy gifts which we receive from Thy bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Praying the Lord’s Prayer before a meal is also appropriate, or simply the common table prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let Thy gifts to us be blessed. Amen.”

For prayer, especially prayers of thanksgivings, are not something we Christians do for no reason. Paul urged the Christian community in Ephesus to all forms of prayer that they might “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 4:2). Therefore, we pray the words the Lord has taught us, we pray the Psalms, we lament, intercede, and so forth. For our prayers rise before Him as incense (Psalm 141:2), and therefore pleasing in His sight.


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