In Matt 6:11, Jesus teaches us to ask God, our Father, “to give us this day our daily bread”. It is rather an amazing petition as we, the creatures, are giving a command to the Father to meet our daily needs! This would be presumptuous except for the fact that God really is our Father. The truth is that we do rely on the Father for everything and this petition is an acknowledgement of that reliance. When we ask for that daily bread, it really is an expression of our trust that God will provide for us. Only children could be so bold!
Our concept of God deeply influences how we pray to Him. A false understanding of God would lead us to try to enlighten Him about our needs, using lots of words, hoping to convince Him to act for us (see Matt 6:7). This attitude is false because it sees God as little more than an ill-informed deity who can be controlled by our verbosity. By way of contrast, Jesus in His prayer reveals the actual nature of God. He is a caring and all-knowing Father. The key is that God already knows our situations: “For the Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt 6:8) We must get rid of the idea that we are informing God about our situations. If we could but realize what Jesus is teaching here, our whole experience of prayer would be radically different. Prayer is not about words, but about trust. It is not a con game to get God on our side. He already is! Prayer is our opening up to the reality of who God is.
Once we know that God knows all about us and our needs, our anxious restlessness departs from us. We have a Father who knows everything about us and is working things out for us. In prayer, we are reaffirming the truth that God really is our Father and that we can trust Him. We do not ask for the provision of our needs out of anxiety but in trust and security. In praying the Lord’s prayer we are saying, “Lord, You already know all my needs that I am so desperately anxious about. I give them to You and my heart can now be at peace. You know my needs better than I do and You know the best way to answer them. I give all my needs to You knowing that You are working each thing out in ways I cannot even imagine. I know that Your provision will suffice. I know and trust in You because You are my Father.” We can truly ask for our ‘daily bread’ because that is what a good father always does: he provides daily bread for his children.