It was just another praying through of the Lord’s prayer…
You know the deal, ‘Our Father, who are in heaven, blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah, you know, find the rhythm
blah blah blah lips moving to recreate words long worn into you in some ancient school assembly probably
blah blah blah’ WAIT, WHAT?
There is was, middle of the prayer, Matthew 6, verse 11:
11 Give us today our daily bread.
That’s surely a typo, right? Everyone knows it goes, ‘Give me today MY daily bread.’
But it wasn’t…
IT. WAS. ME!
i would so much like to claim the credit for this one, but after 41 years of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, as it has come to be known, the very one that Jesus taught His disciples to share with them some incredible ingredients that make up a good prayer, it took someone else to point it out to me.
The phrase is a call for “OUR daily bread.”
How had i never seen that before?
The words of Martin Luther King Jnr. resonate in my ears, “No one is free until we are all free.”
YOUR NEED BEFORE MY WANT
In the Old Testament of the Bible, the second book of The Torah, in Exodus 16 there is a beautiful story of God supplying the Israelites with a sort of bread from heaven as they wandered through the desert. They were given strict instructions to collect just what they needed, and no more. Paul echoes a reminder to this in his second letter to the Corinthians in chapter 8:
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
While, in this passage, the writer is speaking specifically about believers sharing with believers, the reference to the community of Israel throws open a bigger picture. That when God provides, there should be enough for everyone. As long as people continue to adhere to the principle of gathering what you need. Not too much or too little.
Or to put it a different way, the call for us to be crying out for the provision of ‘Our Daily Bread’.
In Africa, we have the idea of Ubuntu – i am a person through people, or i am what i am because of who we are.
Ubuntu is the potential for being human, to value the good of the community above self interest.
We love to help other people. i believe that has been wired into our humanity. We see someone in need and something in us instantly wants to reach out and make a difference. However, as we grow up on a planet with a very loud and clear ‘Me first’ personology that is taught and modelled to us almost everywhere we look, i wonder where that particular strand of D.N.A. was reprogrammed?
Could it be that our desire to help others and see justice and equality for all has been curtailed, and even overwhelmed sometimes, by our longing for person comfort and luxury?
i will help you, as long as it does not affect my own personal comfort and well-being.
Mine is more important than yours.
Give me this day MY daily bread. And then if there is leftovers, may you have yours as well.
Although that’s not how the prayer goes, is it?
What needs to change in me, for me, from me, the moment the light comes on and i realise that the words are, and have always been,
“Give us this day our daily bread.”