Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
By Marty Norman
Matthew 6:11 “Give us today our daily bread …”NIV
At a recent family dinner my grandson, James, asked the following question. “Dad, why don’t we pray at our house like Big Dad does?” There was dead silence around the table. Then someone mumbled something that no one remembers. His words of convicting truth cut through the table like a knife.
James’s situation is not unique. Too many families today are too busy to pray before meals. Statistics tell us that each year fewer and fewer families sit down to a family meal together. Soccer practice, piano lessons, business meetings, school open houses all interfere with what once was the best part of the day.
When I was growing up family dinners were expected. The time and place were sacrosanct. There were no fast food restaurants and few activities occurred after 6:00 p.m. TV’s turned off and activities finished, families sat down to a home cooked meal and discussed the events of the day
Dinner was family time when families sat down together, bowed their heads, and gave thanks for their day. Conversation flowed. Many a current event was dissected and rehashed with everyone weighing in with an opinion.
Dinner was also the place where children absorbed not only a healthy meal but also a healthy dose of their parents’ values. Reinforcements came on Sunday at church and lunches shared with grandparents and friends. Confirmation built on the values already planted.
Not so today. With both parents working, many families hardly take time to share a meal, much less share their day. It is estimated that kids spend about four hours a day in front of the television. Conversing with parents is often limited to a few minutes a day exchanging information and schedules. And I ask you, which values are they picking up – the parents or the TV’s? Whether intentional or unintentional I submit they are picking up values other than their parents, clearly a buyer beware situation.
I confess that when my kids were growing up, although we had family meals, we didn’t pray together either. So I’m not only preaching to the choir but am sending myself a gentle reminder. As I spend more and more time with my grandchildren I see the importance of this ritual or tradition.
After God parted the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites he led them into the desert for forty years. However, he sent an offering of his faithfulness and care on a daily basis – manna, bread – not too much, not too little, just enough for the day.
The Lord is still in the bread business. He still sends manna to us each day, but it does not come in the form of hoary frost on the ground. Rather it comes as blessings and opportunities, god-moments that grace our day, god-encounters that fill our lives.
But do we see them?
If we see them do we share them with our children? What better place to share than at the dinner table through prayer and discussion. Bedtime prayers are also a wonderful place to thank God for the events of the day, but that is more one on one. I like the idea of doing some of the sharing at dinner. That way the entire family can be in on the discussion and it doesn’t interfere with bedtime.
I am reminded of the TV “Roseanne”. Many an argument and shouting match occurred at the dinner table, family dinners without the covering of God. It would suit us well if we took a deep breath, rethought our situation, and intentionally decided to make the dinner table a place of comfort and safety, a god-covering if you will where we share the god-moments of our day with our children and grandchildren.
What a difference a day makes.
Prayer: O Father, I pray that today you might give us our daily bread so that we might glorify your name in our families!