One of the ideas that guides my practice of faith is the part of the Lord's Prayer which says, "Give us this day our daily bread." I believe what Jesus is teaching us to pray there is, "Give us today what we need for this day." The imagery is drawn from the Israelite's experience of God providing for them in the desert after they fled Egypt.
Here's how the story goes (from Exodus 16):In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." ( I think the Israelites Moses led out were all teenagers - or at least they sound the way our teenagers sound).
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."
So, the Lord was going to use his providing the Israelites with their daily bread as a way to teach the people that He is faithful. The story continues:
... in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. (Manna is the Hebrew word for "what is it?" - the original "wonder bread")
Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer [a] for each person you have in your tent.' "
17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.
19 Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning."
20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them ... and so was God.
And so, I believe this whole episode and all the other days of Israel learning to depend on God's wonder bread, are behind the phrase, "Give us this day our daily bread - provide us today with what we need for this day."
In my daily practice I try to take on the perspective of waiting on my daily bread whatever it might be, from wherever it might come. When we lived in San Francisco, finding a parking spot was daily bread, or catching a bus at just the right time. Because we lived as missionaries, we learned to depend on financial bread (isn't that what hippies called money ... bread?)
Today, in Nashville, as I chose to trust and follow and serve God at the conference, guess what I found? My daily bread. It was there in the people who attended my seminars and asked the right questions at the right time to lead us all to a deeper understanding of the subject. It was there in bumping into old friends and we both had time for a meal together. It was there in the meals themselves and the fact that my friends insisted on paying for them. Thank you. It was there in small and large ways throughout the day.
And as I prepare to turn in for the night, I can enjoy the memory of the bread, but tomorrow morning, I will need bread again. Maybe an upgrade to first class ... ?