Bread has been called “the staff of life.” This is because it has been one of the most basic foods in nearly every culture in the world’s history. Bread was so important in ancient times that it came to represent all food in everyday conversation. Thus one would speak of “breaking bread” in reference to having a meal, no matter what else the meal might include. We see this usage in the New Testament in three examples.
When the Lord taught His disciples how to pray in Mt. 6:9-13, He included this statement in v. 12 of the model prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread”. The Lord’s intent was that His disciples should depend on the Father in heaven each day for their sustenance. Every day they were to ask God to supply their needs for that day.
The second example is found in Acts 2:46. Here Luke described the activities of the first Christians. He said, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” In this instance we see that they were sharing common meals together each day in the early days of the Lord’s church.
The third example appears in Acts 20:7. In Luke’s account of the close of Paul’s third missionary journey he said, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.” In this case the phrase “break bread” refers to partaking of the Lord’s Supper, which is the commemoration of the Lord’s death on the cross (Mt. 26:26-30; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
Two of these examples refer solely to physical food. We recognize the importance of daily food to sustain our bodies, and the scriptures support this need. The only restraints in this regard are that we must not allow food to master us (cf. Rom. 14:13-17; 1 Cor. 6:12, 13), and we must ask our Father in heaven to bless us each day with what we need (Mt. 6:12).
While the third example is certainly physical food (the bread and the cup), it is nevertheless a spiritual feast. Our weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper is part of the spiritual sustenance that our souls needs in order to grow and mature in the faith. We cannot survive as children of God if we ignore this spiritual food, but our spiritual food is more than the weekly communion.
Our Lord said we are to pray for our “daily bread.” This is a spiritual necessity as much as it is a physical necessity because we need spiritual sustenance daily, just as we need physical food. Our spiritual food is the word of God. In Heb. 5:12-14 the writer said, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” The writer of Hebrews challenged his readers to exercise their minds with God’s word so they would mature in the faith. If they did not, they would remain spiritual babies, which is unacceptable.
The Bible is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions. Let’s make sure we use it as God intended so we will always have our “daily bread”.