was the view argued by one of the church fathers, Origen (c.185-c.254).
He was one of the first to explore the meaning of the strange word epiousios
which precedes artos (bread). Origen understands epiousios
to mean 'necessary for existence'.
Origen is unambiguous in his claim
that this bread, for which we are to ask, does not refer to material
food, but to spiritual sustenance (see passages below). In fact he
suggests that it is this special nature of the 'bread' which
required Matthew and Luke to coin this special word to describe it.
Origen's 'spiritual' interpretation still finds a lot of support
Section from Origen's "On Prayer"
Give us today our Needful Bread, or as Luke has it, Give us daily
our Needful Bread. Seeing that some suppose that it is meant that we
should pray for material bread, their erroneous opinion deserves to
be done away with and the truth about the needful bread set forth,
in the following manner. We may put the question to them—how can
it be that He, who says that heavenly and great things ought to be
asked for as if, on their view, He has forgotten His teaching now
enjoins the offering of intercession to the Father for an earthly
and little thing, since neither is the bread which is assimilated
into our flesh a heavenly thing nor is it asking a great thing to
And my Father, He says, gives you the true bread from
heaven, for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world. It is true bread that nourishes the
true man who is made in God’s image, and he that has been
nourished by it also becomes in the Creator’s likeness. What is
more nourishing to the soul than Word, or what more precious to the
mind of him that is capable of receiving it than the Wisdom of God?