“A thorn in the flesh for comfortable petitioners”

February 3, 2015

brunerI said in my sermon on Sunday that I’ve never once worried about my daily bread—for any of the 16,418 days I had been alive. I have never even worried about weekly bread. I’ve probably worried a couple of times about monthly bread. Certainly annual bread. But never daily bread. Not even close.

So, while I pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” how easily I forget that God provides it! And how easily I forget that for most of the world, daily bread doesn’t seem nearly so inevitable.

What does this mean?

Frederick Dale Bruner offers the following insights in his commentary on the text:

We are taught to pray “give us this day” our bread, putting an urgency into the prayer and a day-by-dayness into our economic dependence on God. Those of us who have never gone hungry learn here how much we have to be grateful for. Thus we will rarely be able to pray this petition without saying immediately, “Thank you very much.” At the same time few of us in the West can pray this prayer without guilt for being able to enjoy bread abundantly while such a large number in the world lives miserably. Hence this petition causes us also to pray “I am very sorry,” and “Please show us what to do,” and “please help all those who bring bread to the world.” This petition forms a thorn in the flesh for its comfortable petitioners. (“No Christian can be content to have too much while others have too little,” Barclay.) Something is wrong in world distribution. Something is out of joint economically. This petition should stick in the throat when prayed by full Christians; it reminds us of the wretched of the earth.[†]

Frederick Dale Bruner, The Christbook: Matthew 1-12 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 307.

4 Responses to ““A thorn in the flesh for comfortable petitioners””

  1. Grant Essex Says:

    The “daily bread” for which I pray has nothing to do with my digestive system. You might say it’s “soul food” that I need. Where do I find it? In the Word, written, spoken and shared.

    • brentwhite Says:

      I agree that God’s Word is part of what it means—the most important part. Remember Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 4? “My food is to do the will of my Father.” But I don’t this petition is only spiritual, though. I think Jesus wants us to pray for our essential physical and worldly needs, too.

  2. bobbob Says:

    what’s up with all the typos?
    … no Christiain … be content two have too

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