He gives us what we need and not what we want. This is a mercy because what we want is very often not what we need. In fact, what we want is very often exactly what we do not need. Instead he gives us our daily bread.
The basic manna is all he promises, and like the manna in the wilderness, it is only enough for one day. That bread for which we pray is the basic food for our sustenance, and as we learn to rely on this basic provision we immediately learn the values of heaven.
The idea of praying for ‘daily bread’ corrects the consumerism and manic acquisitiveness of our society. The consumer society teaches us to buy, buy, buy. It is built into our worldview that more is always better. Wrong answer. Small is beautiful, and praying for our daily bread, and expecting nothing more helps us to learn this and live this.
The daily bread, however, is also the bread from heaven which he gives us every day, and that bread is his own body. We need spiritual food as well as physical, and through the mysteries of the church that food is given to us again, under the appearance of physical bread. The bread that has come down from heaven nurtures us–God giving us what we really need rather than what we want.
Then there is a further transformation for when we learn to rely on only what we need and not what we want, what we want is, itself, changed. What I mean to say is that when we rely on what he gives we learn to desire what he gives. What we want becomes the same thing as what we need. “Commit you way unto the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The beautiful thing about this is that he not only gives us the desires of our heart, but first he gives us the desires in our heart. Before he fulfills the desires he actually transforms what we desire.
So as I pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” I am saying, “Lord give me just exactly what I need, and don’t spare me.” Now this is a courageous and exciting prayer for He knows what I need, and if I can really ask for that it might be that what I need is a dose of strong medicine.
Therefore, even in praying for my daily bread, I should be careful what I ask for because I might get it!