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Disclaimer: I understand that there is no monolithic Protestant belief on any topic except a protestation of the Catholic Church. That being said - I would appreciate it if this answer contained some attempt to get as close as possible to stating the general "protestant orthodoxy" or "protestant consensus" no matter how contradictory those terms may be.

In Matthew chapter 6 verses 9-13 our Lord instructs all Christians to pray as such:

9 Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy 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 forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen.

As a Catholic I interpret verse 11 to be referring (at least tangentially) to the Holy Eucharist.

Do Protestants interpret this to be a literal request for a daily slice of bread? If they see this as a reference to their form of symbolic "communion", why do they not all offer "communion" daily?

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    @LukeHill Nothing suggests it's about communion either.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 21:55
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    On a related note, it's not certain if "daily bread" is a correct translation.
    – gronostaj
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 7:43
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    Why would you even assume a literal request here? Verse 12 does not require Protestants to cancel all loans at the time of the prayer, after all.
    – Graham
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 12:33
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    The protestation of the Catholic church you mention falls well short of the mark. The Edict of Worms said Lutheranism would only be tolerated in regions where it couldn't be suppressed without tumult, but in Lutheran lands, they must give total liberty to Catholics. Against this invidious arrangement the Evangelicals protested, whence the origin of the name 'Protestants'. They protested that the majority of one diet could not rescind the unanimous action of the previous assembly. They vowed to testify publicly to the truth of God's word, which is the main sense of the name 'Protestant.'
    – Anne
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 10:27
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    @Anne To say there is 'no monolithic Protestant belief on any topic' is just an incorrect dismissal of arguably the most important doctrine of the New Testament (aside from the doctrine of the Person of Christ, Himself) namely Justification by Faith which is the heart of our Protest !
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 10:53

4 Answers 4

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The Lord's Prayer is taught in the Protestant catechisms, e.g.:

Luther's Small Catechism

Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Heidelberg Catechism (Q125)

Q. What does the fourth petition mean?

A. “Give us this day our daily bread” means: Do take care of all our physical needs so that we come to know that you are the only source of everything good, and that neither our work and worry nor your gifts can do us any good without your blessing. And so help us to give up our trust in creatures and trust in you alone.

Westminster Larger Catechism (Q193)

Q. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?

A. In the fourth petition (which is, Give us this day our daily bread,)

acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, nor we to merit, or by our own industry to procure them; but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully:

we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of his free gift, and as to his fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort.


Addendum:

Calvin is too long to quote here but might be worth reading, as he discusses a few points mentioned in this and the other answers:

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My guess is something like what R.C. Sproul, a Presbyterian, articulates here is common among Protestants.

As he says,

"[B]read was a powerful symbol of God's provision for His people in the Old Testament."

The manna that came to the ancient Jews while in the desert could only be taken for the day's needs, hence daily bread. As Sproul continues

"This petition of the Lord's Prayer, then, teaches us to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us from day to day."

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    I was going to answer with the daily manna provision, but you beat me to it. +1 Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 0:43
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    Also, Acts 7:26 (and elsewhere) has a cognate word (espiousea) which is translated as "following or next". This ties in well to the notion of Manna, especially as it was gathered on "this day" when the Sabbath was the "next day" and Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and there remains a "rest" for the people of God to enter. Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 12:36
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As far back as the start of the 18th century, Reformed Protestants understood the petition in Matthew 6:11 as a request to God (from whom all good gifts come) to provide them with their daily physical needs – such as bread to eat. The Nonconformist Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry had this to say about praying to God for our daily bread:

  1. Give us this day our daily bread. Because our natural being is necessary to our spiritual well-being in this world, therefore, after the things of God's glory, kingdom, and will, we pray for the necessary supports and comforts of this present life, which are the gifts of God, and must be asked of him, ***Ton arton epiousion—***Bread for the day approaching, for all the remainder of our lives. Bread for the time to come, or bread for our being and subsistence, that which is agreeable to our condition in the world (Prov. 30:8), food convenient for us and our families, according to our rank and station.

Every word here has a lesson in it: (1.) We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance; we ask for bread, not dainties, not superfluities; that which is wholesome, though it be not nice. (2.) We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry: we do not ask for the bread out of other people's mouths, not the bread of deceit (Prov. 20:17), not the brad of idleness (Prov. 31:27), but the bread honestly gotten. (3.) We ask for our daily bread; which teaches us not to take thought for the morrow (v. 34), but constantly to depend upon divine Providence, as those that live from hand to mouth. (4.) We beg of God to give it us, not sell it us, nor lend it us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread, (5.) We pray, "Give it to us; not to me only, but to others in common with me." This teaches us charity, and a compassionate concern for the poor and needy. It intimates also, that we ought to pray with our families; we and our households eat together, and therefore ought to pray together. (6.) We pray that God would give us this day; which teaches us to renew the desire of our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed; as duly as the day comes, we must pray to our heavenly Father, and reckon we could as well go a day without meat, as without prayer. Source: https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/6

I was curious about the Latin phrase Ton arton epiousion so I did a quick search and found this:

Epiousios (ἐπιούσιος) is a Greek adjective used in the Lord's Prayer verse "Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον" 'Give us today our epiousion bread'. Because the word is used nowhere else, its meaning is unclear. It is traditionally translated as "daily", but most modern scholars reject that interpretation... Daily has long been the most common English translation of epiousios. It is the term used in the Tyndale Bible, the King James Version, and in the most popular modern English versions. This rests on the analysis of epi as for and ousia as being; the word would mean "for the [day] being" with day being implicit. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiousios

Regardless of whether “daily” is the correct interpretation in Matthew 6:11, Protestants understand this to mean we look to God to provide us with our basic needs for food, such as bread (which is a staple part of our diet), to sustain our bodies. It is not taken to mean communion, and neither is it taken to mean a literal slice of bread once a day.

I take it to mean physical sustenance sufficient unto the day to keep us healthy and whole. After all, Jesus told us not to worry about what we shall eat, or what we shall wear, knowing that our Father in heaven provides for our every need.

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Tertullian wrote this about the petition (emphasis mine).

“Give us this day our daily bread,” spiritually. For Christ is our Bread; because Christ is Life, and bread is life. “I am,” saith He, “the Bread of Life;”8799 and, a little above, “The Bread is the Word of the living God, who came down from the heavens.”8800 Then we find, too, that His body is reckoned in bread: “This is my body.”8801 And so, in petitioning for “daily bread,” we ask for perpetuity in Christ, and indivisibility from His body. But, because that word is admissible in a carnal sense too, it cannot be so used without the religious remembrance withal of spiritual Discipline; for (the Lord) commands that bread be prayed for, which is the only food necessary for believers; for “all other things the nations seek after.”+ -On Prayer chapter VI-

From that, I suspect most Protestants would agree that the bread is spiritual food, rather than a resacrifice of Christ's one sacrifice. And that we'd agree it is a petition for physical food, being of the same substance, yet not identical.

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