Praying with Jesus: The Petition for Provision

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A relief worker in South Korea after the Korean War tells the story of children in a particular orphanage who were struggling to sleep at night. As workers engaged with the children they discovered that, even though the orphans were provided with three daily meals, anxiety over whether there would be provision tomorrow kept them up at night. The workers decided that, every night, when the children went to bed, each would be given a single slice of bread to hold in his or her hand. The intention was not for the children to eat the bread; it was meant to encourage them that there was more where it came from. The ravages of war had left them anxious about daily provision. Relief workers wanted to assure them that their needs would be met.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us each day our daily bread” (v. 3). In a sense, Jesus was placing a slice of bread in each disciple’s hand, assuring them that God was able to meet their daily needs.

We are not accustomed to praying for daily provision. Most of us are accustomed to planning our own provision for the future. Even technological advancements (think refrigeration) have rendered the need for daily provision somewhat alien to us. While there is certainly wisdom in planning for the future (Proverbs 13:22), this petition calls for us to be content with having our daily needs met.

Significantly, as was the case with the orphans, this need for daily provision comes in the context of warfare. The story of the world is the story of kingdoms in conflict. God’s kingdom is in conflict with the kingdom of darkness. As we considered yesterday, our stated purpose in prayer should be the advance of God’s kingdom. We pray for God’s name to be hallowed as his kingdom comes. This is a Great Commission prayer. It is prayer for victory in the war of the kingdoms.

Like any war, victory cannot be achieved without sacrifice. Some—we call them “missionaries”—will sacrifice by leaving the comfort of home and family to move to the frontlines of the battle. Others will remain at home but sacrifice to provide for the missionaries on the field. Such provision will create need in our lives.

Commitment to the Great Commission results in sacrifice for the Great Commission. Sacrifice creates need, which Paul promised God would meet (Philippians 4:19). The Philippians had sacrificed to partner with Paul in his missionary efforts and had thereby created need in their lives. Because of their sacrifice, they had God’s promise of provision: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God would meet the need that they had created by sacrificing for the sake of missions. He will do the same for us.

The petition for provision is not a very calculated petition. It does not consider how much we have or how much we need for the future but simply calls for faith that, as our priorities are rightly aligned, God will daily provide sufficient to meet our needs. Perhaps one reason that we do not need to pray for our daily provision is because we have been too calculated. We have not been as generous as we should be and therefore our future needs are so well provided for that there is no need to trust God for daily provision.

As you pray for your daily provision, be thankful that God promises to meet your needs. At the same time, consider whether your calculatedness has rendered the need for daily provision moot. What is God calling you to sacrifice? How is he calling you to create need in your life, which he will wonderfully meet in answer to your prayers? These are the questions with which this petition confronts us.