Agur, son of Jakeh, adds a prayer to the collection of wise sayings in the book of Proverbs. “Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Prov. 30:7–9).
The divide between rich and poor grows today. The have-nots continue to fall further behind in health and education, while the haves continue to prosper. What may be most troubling in this equation is our bottomless appetite for more and our inability to distinguish needs from wants. Jesus’ prayer takes aim at our appetites of greed. In teaching His disciples to pray for their daily bread, He was asking them to identify with the very poorest of His day, thereby humbling themselves.
It’s often said that pride is the root of all sin. Whether we’re tempted by gluttony, greed, deception, laziness, or apathy, the actual temptation is to our pride. We think we deserve more than God gives, that His rules don’t apply to us, and that our plans and priorities are superior to God’s purposes. We resent having to wait and relinquish our control.
Psalm 131 describes the result of being spiritually weaned from pride. For people who begin finally to esteem themselves less, a quiet contentment and peace grows. Like a child, we can begin to discover the loving protection and care of our God.
When we are tempted to want more from God than He chooses to give, praying for daily bread is a necessary and beautiful exercise of humility.