I work for a Christian ministry whose flagship publication is titled Our Daily Bread. Maybe you’ve heard of it. ODB is a popular daily devotional that has blessed millions of readers since its debut more than 50 years ago.

The title for this beloved devotional was borrowed from what is traditionally known as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). Lately, I’ve been reading up on the meaning of the original phrase.

I learned that the Greek word rendered “daily” (Matthew 6:11 KJV) by most modern Bible translations is absolutely unique in Greek literature—it doesn’t appear anywhere else. Over the centuries, some have thought that the word refers to “bread of today” or the “bread of tomorrow.” Others have taken it to mean “just enough bread to keep us alive” or “the bread we need.”

In his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Kenneth Bailey suggests that a second-century Syrian translation of The Lord’s Prayer gives us one of the best insights into the meaning of this rare word. The translation is rendered in English, “Give us today the bread that doesn’t run out.” Bailey believes that this was Jesus’ intended meaning, as it speaks to the universal human fear of not having enough to survive.

If we run out of the basic necessities of life such as food and water, we’re finished. It’s the same fear that gripped the widow in Zarephath as she prepared to make one final loaf of bread for herself and her only son before they died (1 Kings 17:8-12).

It’s clear that Jesus taught us to pray for deliverance from this basic human fear that can utterly demoralize the human spirit. Praying for “our daily bread” is asking the Giver of all life for the food we need (physical and spiritual) to sustain us today, tomorrow, and forever.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Nehemiah 8:1-18