“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:9-13

The idea of claiming prosperity for ourselves in the name of Jesus is foreign to how Jesus taught us to pray. He simply taught for us to pray for today’s provision. You could say this is a paraphrase of Proverbs 30:7-9.

Two things I ask of you;
    deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
    give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
    and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Proverbs joins falsehood and lying with either poverty or riches. I wonder if God put this together so long ago for application in today’s environment of falsehood regarding the prosperity gospel? The wisdom of Proverbs recognizes that if I gain riches, I may be tempted to think I don’t need God. I can be self-sufficient. Or, if I am in poverty, I may be tempted to steal from another that which is not mine. Either condition may tempt me to sin.

It can be argued, as Martin Luther did, that this prayer for daily bread is a prayer for a just society in which people can work, execute contracts that will be honored, not suppressed by the wealthy class, and the whole nation can prosper so that all will have their daily bread. Notice that the prayer is a communal prayer, it is “give us” our daily bread, not “give me” my daily bread.

Is God against his people prospering? No, I don’t believe so. In fact, I think he intends that we both as individuals and as societies prosper. But, that prosperity flows from a culture that honors Godly relationships in life and in business. It is not generally a matter of supernatural provision through miraculous events. Of course, God does on occasion, do just that. So, I am not arguing against God’s miraculous provision. I am arguing against the ethos of the prosperity teaching that is self-centered and oriented toward getting me rich.

Why daily bread, anyway?

Looking at this prototypical prayer, we see the first petitions being Godward. May we honor your name, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as in heaven. Daily bread provides the health and strength to do these things. Daily bread is not to raise me above my brothers but to allow me to live unto God and bless his name.

Lord, don’t let me have too much. I’m afraid that if I have too much, I will forget you and sin against you. And Lord, keep me from poverty, so I don’t, in desperation, steal from another their daily bread. Help me to find contentment in whatever state I am, prosperity or abasement. I will honor you for I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)