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        Give us this day our daily bread 


             Extracts from "Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer for simple and ignorant Laymen."


Martin Luther (1483-1546) of Germany was the man who took the first steps in leading the Reformation, proclaiming the Word of God and its doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. As a young man he had earned his Master of Arts at the University of Erfurt, but after a series of events including the death of a close friend and a near-death experience of his own, he decided to try to atone for his sins as a monk of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther went to great extremes in order to obtain forgiveness of sins by his own “good works”, going so far as to damage his health permanently by severe physical punishment such as fasting for many days and abstaining from sleep. Ordained to the Roman priesthood in 1507, he still found no satisfaction, seeing nothing but the depth and darkness of his own guilt. He then discovered a Bible in a library, from which he found his first great rays of hope through Jesus Christ, and travelling to Rome with the light of the Word in his heart, he saw through the pagan superstitions of the Papal system. Finally he returned to his studies at university, this time in Wittenberg where he gained a doctorate in 1512. Here, encouraged by his mentor, the Augustinian scholar Johann von Staupitz (1470-1524), he continued earnestly to study the Bible; and as the text from Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith”, had several times come to him with power, so he began to preach this earth-shattering doctrine to the world.



Wherefore do we say Our bread? Because we pray not to have the ordinary bread that pagans eat, and which God gives to all men, but for our bread, ours who are children of the heavenly father.


And what, then, is this bread of God? – It is Jesus Christ our Lord: I am the living bread which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. For this reason (and let us not deceive ourselves), all sermons and all instructions that do not set Jesus Christ before us and teach us to know him, cannot be the daily bread and the nourishment of our souls……


To what use will such bread have been prepared for us, if it is not offered to us, and so we cannot taste it?......It is as if a magnificent banquet had been prepared, and there was no one to serve the bread, to hand round the dishes, to pour out the wine, so that the guests must feed themselves on the sight and the smell of the viands……For this cause we must preach Jesus Christ alone.


But what is it, then, to know Jesus Christ, sayest thou, and what advantage is derived from it?......I reply: To learn and to know Jesus Christ is to understand what the apostle says: Christ is made unto us of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Now this you understand, if you acknowledge all your wisdom to be a condemnable folly, your own righteousness a condemnable iniquity, your own holiness a condemnable impurity, your own redemption a miserable condemnation; if you feel that you are really before God and before all creatures a fool, a sinner, an impure, a condemned man, and if you show, not only by your words, but from the bottom of your heart, and by your works, that you have no consolation and no salvation remaining except in Jesus Christ. To believe is none other than to eat this bread from heaven.




“History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century” by J. H. Merle d’Aubigné. Baker Book House (USA). (Reprinted from the edition issued in London in 1846.) Page 117.