PRAYER FOR OUR DAILY BREAD
The second half of the prayer deals with human concerns for food. This one begins with our daily need for bread. Jesus told his disciple to pray thus: “The daily bread, give to us today.” How does God feed us daily? He does not sow or reap, nor does God grind the seed into flour and then bake it in an oven. How then does God feed man or even the animals? We are told that God takes care of the birds that neither sow nor reap or gather in barns (Lk. 12:24). Are the birds sitting in their nests and is the Lord carrying food to them? Of course, He does no such thing. Birds happen to be very busy. They spend most of their time gathering food. They even fight each other over a crumb. It appears, that the birds just exist to fill their little bodies. Man is not like that. He was created for a higher purpose than to gathering only food.
God has provided the seed, the soil and the environment. Man must do the rest. But he must not be like the Israelites in the desert, who gathered more than they could eat, and the food spoiled (Ex. 16:16-23). The Parable of the Rich Fool, in the Gospel of Luke, illustrates the danger of hording food by a few and let it spoil (Lk. 12:13-21). The Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus shows how God deals with people that do not share their abundance with the needy or disabled (Lk. 16:19-31). In our part of the world, food has become a commodity and big business instead of a basic necessity. We no longer consume anything that merely satisfies hunger. We are moving fast into the direction Joseph placed Egypt in, where bread turned Pharaoh into a god (Gen. 41). The same happened to Russia and China, where the states became like gods. In North America, conglomerates in the interest of profits have swallowed up the bread maker or the small farmer. What will happen in a welfare state, that can no longer feed its dependants?
I know exactly what will happen because I lived through World War II, and ended up as a homeless refugee among total strangers. During the first four years, we farmed and suffered no shortage on food. The people from the cities came begging and trading their valuables for food. Their valuables were far more worth than the food they received. I was about thirteen, when I raised rabbits and sold them to a lady for twenty Marks a piece. She added her price on top for an animal that cost me literally nothing. The Russians drove us from our farm, and we, too, began to trade our valuables for bread. We traded one valuable horse for food and a carriage, so we could earn a living with one horse. I was picking up women, mostly mothers from the cities, and I drove them to a large farming community, where they traded anything they had, including their bodies, to feed their children. Our horse died and so did our temporary livelihood. We, who abhorred breaking the law, resorted to stealing grain from the farmers, to make bread. Also the farmers secretly stored food and kept it from the Nazis. Regulations were forcing people to cheat in order to live.
We learned, first hand, that people living on their land have a far better chance to survive. We managed to live among farmers for four years in West Germany. We were fortunate to secure a small farm and again raised our own food. I was more than a bit foolish, at the time, and did not think highly of myself being a farm boy. We were six farmer families in that small community. One of the farmer’s sons was in training to be a clerk and behaved as if he were a prince and if I was his servant. We went to the city and met a gentleman with his lady and a young lady friend. My companion tried to impress himself by demeaning me of being only a farmer. The gentleman interrupted the clerk apprentice and elevated me to twice his height. He regarded farming and especially owning a farm as the most important position in the world. I ended up walking the younger lady home, while the clerk was pushing my brand new bicycle. When I decided to immigrate to Canada, I was allowed to do so as a farmhand. That was sixty-three years ago, and the small farmer has moved off the land. The farm, I left in Germany, my parents sold to a man with a genuine heart for farming and he absorbed most of the small farmers and turned it into one of the biggest in the area. He was a genuine bread maker. He kept it as a family business and passed on to his son, and his son to his son. A nation or political system, which interferes in the transfer of farms, will not last long. Without bread makers no one can live.
The prosperous part of the world prides itself that it can be generous with handouts to the needy in the world. How long will it be able to be generous, if it does not have enough farmers to sustain its generosity? Unfortunately, our world, in some areas, has progressed and in others regressed. Some have bread to waste, while others cannot earn enough to feed themselves and their families. In the progressive world, the garbage cans are richer than the tables in the regressive world. We have fallen prey to the philosophy of the survival of the fittest. In the past, even the fat nations have died, because they did not teach the needy how to get their daily bread. Our daily bread is a matter of life and death. The old saying still goes, “Give a man a fish and he will starve, teach him to fish and he will live.” Let us quickly add, “If we withhold the daily bread from the hungry, they will take it by force from us.” Let us not be mistaken. The hungry have nothing to lose. The well fed have the fear of loosing their lives. A farmer kept on praying, “Lord feed the hungry.” One day his teenaged son remarked, “Dad, you have two barns filled with corn; you can answer your own prayers.” The farmer did, but that was not the solution. He should have gone or send someone to teach the needy how to grow corn.
It is much easier to give something, than to teach someone how to acquire bread, so that one again can give. The attitude to give, rather than to help raise food, has resulted in poverty as a profession. The poor specialize in milking the system or the community that is more generous with assistance, than a job would pay. These professionals make it difficult to the real needy and to the generous donors. Help does not reach the people that desperately need it. We became refugees in 1945. Care Packages arrived from Canada and the USA, and we did not even know about it. One day, the minister showed up and told us that he had received Care Packages and that the people had helped themselves. However, we were welcome to have a look at what was left, and what was left was of no use to a hungry family. We lived there for four years and did not receive any help from Care. We received one package from an uncle in Canada and when my parents immigrated to Canada and visited the uncle, they felt ashamed that they had asked for help because he was worse off than we were as refugees.
We do live in a very dishonest world. Praying alone will not change it, because prayer is being used to encourage helping the poor that end up better than the givers. Jesus did not fall for it and told Judas to let the woman be generous with him, and that the poor will be around after He had departed (Jn. 12:8). Paul issued this command, “If anyone will not work, do not feed them! You have made yourself known as unemployed, disorderly and lazy busybodies. If you do such things, we order and urge you in the Lord Jesus Christ to find work quietly and earn your own bread” (II Thes. 3:10-12).