“Give us this day our daily bread,” we say together as a family every morning around the breakfast table. Even our little two-year-old’s voice joins in as we recite the prayer together. 

We haven’t always had this habit, but as the years have passed, praying the Lord’s Prayer together at breakfast has become a beloved family routine. 

We pray this prayer no matter what continent we are on, but in America it is easy for me to forget its meaning. Our fridge is stocked. Our pantry is full. Amazon Prime can deliver in a day. Food is only a Walmart click away. Electricity is taken for granted. Clean water, health, and Christian community are just normal parts of life. We sometimes think our “daily bread” is our own doing. 

We Americans are self-sufficient, independent people. We bring home the bacon and make our plans. We set goals and read productivity books. We are highly effective people. We can come to expect and anticipate our many blessings. 

Is it any surprise that it is so easy to forget that we need God? Is it any surprise that it is so easy to forget to pray? 

“Lord, give us this day our daily bread.” 

It is here, in Southeast Asia, that these words truly come to life for me. 

We live in a land where we really need Him. Every day. For every task. Prayer is our go-to strategy for our daily life problems. 

Here, I often find myself praying for “daily bread” things. It is easier to remember I need God in my life when daily tasks are such a struggle. I am constantly turning to God for help for all the big and little things. Prayer is an ongoing conversation with God as I bring to Him our daily needs and wants. 

Some days I notice just how long my list of “daily bread” things can grow. I want clean water, electricity, decent internet, no mosquito bites. I want meat at the grocery store and the right kind of vegetables at the market each day. I want a life free from intestinal parasites and supernatural protection from the neighbor kids’ lice. I want the lights to work when I flip a switch and water to come out when I turn a faucet. I want clean clothes free from mold and an afternoon of sunshine to dry the diapers. 

I want … I want … I want…. My “daily bread” list can sometimes feel silly to pray about… but they certainly make me aware of my total dependence on God

I want the taxi driver to give me a fair price and the government official to grant me favor as I apply for a visa. I want to speak the language and understand what is spoken to me. I want … I want … I want…. My “daily bread” list can get pretty long. These daily needs and wants can sometimes feel silly to pray about or thank God for, but they certainly make me aware of my total dependence on God for all the details of life. 

I realized when we returned to Southeast Asia that I had never prayed much for these “daily bread” things in America. In fact, I got so comfortable with my hot showers and air conditioning, my big grocery runs and Amazon orders, my consistent electricity and my Christian activities, that I didn’t pray much for these “daily bread” things at all. When things are easy, I can forget how much I need God. I can also forget to thank Him for all the things He has given me. 

Here, however, I’m realizing just how much I need God in all the details of daily life. I don’t always need the things that make my daily life easier, but I do need Him.

Even when I am living a life full of prayer for the daily things, I can forget that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” I need God and I need God’s Word. That is my true daily bread. 

In America, we can read God’s Word in dozens of translations, in a book, on our phones, on the internet, everywhere. Bible study tools are at our fingertips. Resources are plentiful. But we often forget it is the Word of God that is our daily bread. We can’t live without it. We can live without many things, but we can’t live without God’s Word. 

In another culture, I don’t always receive the daily things I want or think I need. Sometimes the electricity goes out, the food makes me sick, and everything seems to go wrong. In these moments I have to remind myself that I need Him, not the things I receive from Him. 

I have to remind myself of the words of Habakkuk: 

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,

and there are no grapes on the vines;

even though the olive crop fails,

and the fields lie empty and barren;

even though the flocks die in the fields,

and the cattle barns are empty,

 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

 I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”

I need His joy even when the electricity is off and the heavy rains mean the laundry won’t dry. I need His patience even when the taxi driver charges too much and I’m still waiting on my visa. I need His grace even though I can’t understand the language spoken to me and I feel like a failure. I need Him. I need His peace even when I feel overwhelmed by the many daily tasks that are before me. I need His presence even though I feel lonely and just want to worship with a familiar church family.

I need Him to walk beside me, go before me, dwell in me.

I need His Word, planted in my heart to transform and sustain me, even when I don’t have all the daily life things I want or think I need. 

Here in Southeast Asia, I need Him. I need His Word that promises me I am not alone. I need the reminder that He is with me. 

But I need Him in America, too. I need Him when my fridge is full and the pantry is stocked. I need Him when the electricity is on and the car is running without problems. I need Him when I have ample community and my bank account is full. Wherever I am, I need Him. Whatever my circumstance. Whatever my situation. 

His Word is my daily bread. His presence is my peace. His salvation is my joy. 

So today I will say the Lord’s Prayer with my family. I will thank God for the water we had today. For the electricity. For the vegetables at the market. For our health. 

I will remember how much I need Him in all things. At all times. And I will thank Him. I will thank God for His Word that sustains me and transforms me today, bringing me closer to Him. I will pray for those without God’s Word in their language, for those without that life-giving daily bread of God’s presence and God’s promises. I will pray that our work and the work of others around the world will advance and that God’s Word will come to them soon, to sustain their life and be their daily bread.

Julie Jean Francis

Julie Jean Francis has lived as an alien and stranger in Southeast Asia since 2012. With her husband, she serves among a large, unreached people group. Together they raise their (many) Third Culture Kids. Julie is the author of "Bowing Low: Rejecting the Idols Around Us to Worship the Living God'' and its companion Bible study. You can find her online at bringinghiswordtolife.org.

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