What I want to think about with you in this chapter is praying for daily bread. We could expand this to say, “praying for daily needs.” When the Bible says, “Give us this day our daily bread,” what Jesus is talking about is not only bread. This is a model prayer. If you need bread, ask for it. Whatever you need, ask God for it, whether it is material, whether it is physical, or whether it is spiritual. If you have a need, you can ask God. But here’s how you do it. There are three things you need to consider when praying for daily bread.
Establish a Proper Priority
Before you can ask for daily bread, you must make sure your priorities are correct. As we talked about in the previous chapter, you must start by putting God first: “Thy name . . . thy kingdom . . . thy will.” “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:30 NKJV).
Have you ever asked for daily bread, but not received it? Are you seeking God first? Prayer is not for the ungodly, and prayer is not for the rebellious. If your life is not surrendered to Him, if you’re not putting Him first, if you’re not honoring Him, don’t be surprised if your prayer is not answered.
I challenge anyone to honestly assert, “I have sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and I’ve gone lacking in needing things.” No one would dare say that because it’s not true. God guarantees you, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
There was an old saint that used to put T & P in the margin of her Bible. And she had T & P by Matthew 6:33. Somebody asked her, “What does that T & P mean?” She said, “It means tried and proven.” Tried and proven. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Think about it. “Give us this day our daily bread.” What is bread for? Bread is to nourish you, to give you strength to do what you ought to do. Question: Why should God give you strength to serve the devil or to fulfill your own selfish desires?
When I was in college, I worked at the A&P grocery store to help pay my tuition. I remember one time when I was walking home from work, I was hungry and I stopped to eat at a diner. I reached my hand in my pocket. I had twenty-one cents. That’s all I had in this whole wide world, just twenty-one cents.
I looked at the menu and there was a cheese sandwich for twenty cents. That was the only thing on the menu for twenty cents. The lady behind the counter said, “What do you want?” I said, “I’d like a cheese sandwich, please.” She said, “Do you want anything to drink?” I said, “A glass of water, please.” I walked out of there without an empty pocket. I still had a penny in my pocket. I can tell you this: I can say with David, “I have been young, and now I’m old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Ps. 37:25).
Another time, I was working a construction job for McLaren Construction Company. We were remodeling a building called the Mercantile Building in West Palm Beach, Florida. We were pouring a cement floor. At 4:30, the normal time to stop work, we couldn’t stop work, because the cement was wet and the job was not finished. We had to keep on wheeling those wheelbarrows in, and dumping the cement over that rebar, and letting the finishers come by and finish the work.
While we were working, I looked up and Mr. McLaren had shown up with some of the finest sandwiches I’d ever seen—big, fat meaty sandwiches, and wheelbarrows full of soft drinks. He said, “Men, just keep working, but help yourself. Just don’t stop. Just keep working, but work and eat, stop and eat a little bit, but just keep working.” I thought about that later on. Why did Mr. McLaren do all of that? Why did he go out and buy those sandwiches and soft drinks for us? I’ll tell you why. We were working for him. He wanted us to be strong. He didn’t want us to stop. I don’t think Mr. McLaren would have bought us those sandwiches if we had not been working for him. And especially if we had been working for the competition.
Why does God give us daily bread? God gives us bread so we can serve Him. Bread is for strength. Strength is for service. If you’re not living for God, don’t expect Him to feed you. Don’t expect Him to answer your prayers to give you more strength to serve the devil. You must establish a proper priority. Do you want your prayers answered? Do you want daily bread? You must first establish a proper priority.
Express a Practical Petition
Sometimes people think that you can’t ask God for things. You certainly can ask God for things. If you need things, you ask God. God answers practical, personal petitions. Don’t think that you can only pray and ask God to make you a better soul winner, or help you to understand the Bible better. Now He will do that. But if you need bread, ask God for bread. Matthew 7:11: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” James 4:2 says, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.”
Did you know that God delights to give things to His children? But James says that often we have not because we ask not. The great mystery in the world today is not unanswered prayer; it is unoffered prayer. Why don’t we pray?
When I was in college, I pastored a little church in Fellsmere, Florida, a little sugar mill town on the edge of the Everglades. There was a deacon in that church named Mr. Ingram, who had some wonderful citrus trees on his property. It was in the Indian River section of Florida, between Fort Pierce and Vero Beach where they grow some of the best oranges and grapefruit in the world.
One day, Mr. Ingram said to me, “Adrian, I want to give you some oranges,” and he gave me a duffel bag full of fruit. I said, “Mr. Ingram, I can’t eat all that fruit.” “Well,” he said, “take it back with you, and give it to some of the other students there at college.” When I got back to the college apartment where Joyce and I lived, I lugged that great big heavy bagful of oranges up those two flights of stairs, and put them in a closet. So I had a closet full of oranges.
The next day, Joyce and I were having lunch, and we were sitting by the window. And I was looking down into the back yard of our little apartment where there was a sour orange tree. A sour orange is an ornamental shrub. The oranges are beautiful, but, friend, they’re not fit for man or beast to eat. One bite of a sour orange and you would have lockjaw.
As I was looking down there, and I saw a little boy walking around in our backyard. And I said, “What is that kid doing down there?” He was looking very suspicious, this way and that way, but he failed to look up. That’s what most of us do. We’re trying to keep others from finding out what we’re up to, and God sees it all. In a minute, it dawned on me he was going to steal an orange, one of those sour oranges.
I watched him as he got a hold of a leaf and then got hold of a twig and got the limb down and finally unhooked that orange, put it under his arm, looked around again to make sure no one saw him, and he took off. Now I didn’t have any extra money in those days, but I believe I would have given a dollar to see him take the first bite.
Later, I thought about that kid swiping that sour orange. Had he come and knocked on my door and said, “Mister, can I have one of those oranges?” I would have said, “Absolutely not. But, son, if you want oranges, come up here. I’ll load you down with oranges.” Friend, I had a closet full of oranges. I had oranges that were beginning to spoil. I had oranges I needed to unload and get rid of. If he’d only asked, he could have had some of the best oranges in the whole wide world. But he didn’t ask.
I believe one of these days, when I get to heaven, God may say, “Adrian, let’s take a walk.” And He’s going to come to a particular place, and He’s going to open a door and say, “Adrian, look in there.” I’ll say, “Lord, what are all those wonderful things?” “Those were things I wanted to give you, but you didn’t ask.” “You have not because you ask not.” I wonder how many blessings there are in heaven that you and I have failed to apprehend, failed to appropriate, failed to receive because we’ve failed to ask. God wants to answer our prayer. He says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not” (Jer. 33:3). “Ask, and ye shall receive,” the Bible teaches, “that your joy may be full.” So ask God if you need something.
Your Need, Not Your Greed
That doesn’t mean you can have everything you want. The Bible says in Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (NKJV). God promises to supply our need, not our greed.
Sometimes we want things we don’t need. Sometimes we need things we don’t want. My dad used to say, “You need a spanking.” He was right. I didn’t want one, but I did need one. But whatever we need, we can come to God and ask if the giving of it will make us more like Jesus in the receiving of it. And no detail is too small to be an object of prayer. If it concerns you, it concerns God. Don’t say, “Well, it’s too small to pray about.” Can you think of anything that’s big to God? The biggest thing you’ve got is still small to God. And God wants to answer your prayer.
Adrian Rogers and Steve Rogers, When We Say Father: Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2018).