Desiring God: The Prayer of Provision

Desiring God: The Prayer of Provision 



Opening Illustration:
Do you believe that God knows your needs?  Do you believe that God will fulfill whatever need you have in your life? Some might say yes to both questions.  Some might answer those questions very differently.  We have all been disappointed with the perceived slowness of God’s response to our prayers.  We have all been disappointed with some of the answers that we receive from God.  We pray for healing and death is delivered.  We pray for our marriage to succeed only to have the divorce.  We pray for our children to know God and they continue to rebel.  We pray for the job to come through only to be passed over. 

If God knows our needs, then why does He not answer these requests?  Perhaps I have the answer to that question.  You see, we’ve been praying for the wrong thing.  The greatest need in our lives is not for the cancer to be cured.  It is not for the job. It is not even for our kids.  The greatest need in our lives is to be redeemed.  It is to be changed.  Our greatest need is transformation.  

How wonderful that we are allowed to ask, to pray, for many other things.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with praying for our family, for healing, for rebellious children and for the job that we want.  However, God knows our greatest need ultimately is change.  

Let me tell you a short story.  

Illustration: God Changes Me
Years ago, a movie about C.S. Lewis and his wife was produced.  The movie is called Shadowlands. C.S. Lewis as many of you know was the famed Christian philosopher  and author of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe series.  C.S. Lewis met a woman named Joy.  She was captivating.  However, before they were married, Joy contracted cancer.  The cancer would eventually take her life.  Lewis’ friends advised him not to marry her as they did not want him to be a widow.  They told him that he should just remain friends with her and let her die in piece.  



Lewis, an honorable man discredited his friends advice and married her.  He loved Joy and they spent many months together.  Yet in the midst of it all, Joy got weaker and sicker.  Lewis, prayed harder and harder.  The dedication of Lewis’ prayers inspired his friends and they commented on how his prayer were helping his sick wife.  

Watch a brief clip of a conversation with Lewis (played by Anthony Hopkins). Listen to what Lewis says about the nature and purpose of prayer.  

Play Shadowland’s Clip

“That’s not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”

Lewis understood the powerful truth. We pray, not so that we can convince God to do something, we pray so that we can receive our ultimate need, that being our transformation.  We pray so that our will can be in step, in sync, to His will.  Not the other way around.  

Friend, if transformation is our ultimate need, I have great news.  God sees that need and supplies that need through the conduit of prayer.  

Good News, God Sees and Supplies Our Needs! 

Matthew 6:9-11 ESV
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread…”

Jesus’ Message Is Our Ministry

I. The Flow of Prayer
Matthew 6:11 ESV
Give us…

Point:
Understand that there is a great deal of meaning in these 7 words.  Jesus’ audience would have received this message far different than we do today.  As we read the Lord’s prayer, we are usually unaware of the context of the receivers and the time in which it was delivered.  A couple of things to remember.  There were two basic needs of the audience of Christ.  The first need was water and the second was bread.  We will get to the bread in just a second.  

We all need water.  Our bodies are roughly made up of 65% of water.  We, as humans, have to water to survive.  However, water was hard to come by in the ancient world.  Water during the time of Jesus was generally tainted, polluted and contaminated.  Clean water was scarce.  So, when you came to hear Jesus preach, the thought in the back of your mind was “where is my next drink coming from”. 

For the record, that is the same thought of some 85% of the planet today.  We are the fortunate few living in the civilized world that have easy access to clean and seemingly unending drinking water.  Most people on planet earth are wondering where their next drink will come from, just like the people listening to Jesus.  

If you stop and think about it, water is mention in the New Testament alone dozens and dozens of times.  I did some research and discovered that water, in various contexts, is mention more than 700 times in the Gospels alone.  That’s crazy.  Water, for Jesus and His counterparts, was a big big deal. 

Point:
The reason that I am talking about water is because, believe it or not, water is implied in the Lord’s prayer.  You can’t see it as it is written but it is there nevertheless.  Let’s take a second and look at the world “give” in Greek.  

The word “give” is translated to δίδωμι.  It is transliterated as didómi and pronounced  
did'-o-mee.  We see the word “give” and place upon it our meaning.  We think of a parent giving a child a present.  We think birthday parties or Christmas where gifts are given away.  That is not a bad understanding of the word. There is just more behind the word.  In this instance, the word means “pouring” or “to pour”.  This gives us the idea of God pouring out his blessing upon our deepest needs.  

The hearers of Jesus’ language would have immediately perked up when He used this word.  Their need physical need, their spiritual need too, was thirst.  They were a thirsty people.  The good news is that God will “didomi” their need.  He will pour into their lives what is missing.  

This truth reminds me of a few pieces of Scripture.  

John 4:14 ESV
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 7:38 ESV
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Point:
Our most basic need is the thirst for water.  God wants to pour, HIs water, His living water into our lives.  Why?  Water transforms lives.  Think about it.  When you are dirty what do you want?  Water.  Water cleanses and transforms our dirty bodies into clean ones.  When you are thirsty, what do you want?  Water.  Drinking water quenches the desire for thirst and allow us to focus on other things.  When you are injured, what do doctors use to clean the debris from a cut?  Right again.  Water.  Sterilized water is used to bring healing to our bodies.  

God wants to pour water into our lives.  His water.  Give to us Lord.  Pour your Spirit into us.  When Jesus says “Give to us” what He is really saying is “rain into our lives God”.  How many of you need some rain today?  How many of us need God to pour into our spirits a refreshing drink?

Illustration:
The other day, I was watering some flowers that I planted.  I turned the water on from the house, pulled out the house and waited.  Nothing happened.  I check again and confirmed that indeed the water was on.  Went back to the hose and still, no water.  The water was on but there was no pouring.  The problem was not the pouring, the problem was the conduit.  The problem was the hose.  I checked the hose and it was kinked.  The water was prevented because of the kink.  Friends, rest assured that our problem is not the water.  It is freely poured out.  The problem is with us.  If you feel that God’s Spirit is not being poured into your life this morning, it is not God’s fault.  It is yours.  You have a kink in your hose.  Better to recognize the kink, fix it, and allow the flow of God’s Spirit to pour out into your life.  

What kinks your hose?  Sin.  Disobedience.  A unresolved issue with a Christian brother or sister. Arrogance.  Pride.  These are all kinks that can stop up God’s flow of water in your life.  

 Jesus’ Message Is Our Ministry

I. The Flow of Prayer
II. The Immediacy of Prayer
Matthew 6:11 ESV
“Give us this day…”

Illustration: He Figures It Out
A father, walking past his 5 year old daughter’s room one night, proudly noticed she was on her knees in prayer. Listening in, he heard this curious prayer- "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz"- repeated several times. When she was finished, he asked her what it meant: "God is really smart," she said, "when I don’t know what to pray about, I just say the alphabet and He figures it out for me"

Point:
Isn’t it great that God knows our needs and He desires to meet them?

Point:
So, God wants to pour His presence into our lives.  Literally, He wants to rain into our lives to bring about transformation.  This is tremendous news for those of us who are thirsty.  Then Jesus believers another wonderful truth.  

Basically Jesus tells us that when pray we should say, “God rain on us today”! Give us this day, not yesterday, not tomorrow, right now.  

How much time do our minds worry about what has happened?  How much mental energy do we dedicate to the past?  We dwell on past failures.  We remember, ponder, pontificate on things that we cannot change.  We are wracked with guilt and shame over past mistakes.  

How much time do we worry about tomorrow? How much do we think about what might happen? We spend so much time of our waking energy worried about the future.  

Jesus tells us that we should be praying for God’s rain today.  We should not worry about the past.  We should not concern ourselves with the future.  We need to be glued to the moment.  We need to be here, now, in the present.  

Point:
Jesus illustrates this point powerfully in Matthew 6:31-33.  Listen to His Word.

Matthew 6:31-33 NLT
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Quote:
Dr. Kevin Elko, famed physiologist framed this verse saying, “Worrying about the future? Consumed by the past? What a waste of your time! Today is too precious-especially in view of God’s promise that He will take care of us-to be ignored, unappreciated or missed by always fixating on tomorrow.  So, be fully engaged, be fully present, be where your feet are.”

Point
When praying for God to meet your needs, pray for today.  Jesus says, “give us this day” not “give us tomorrow” or “fix the yesterday”.  What is truly fantastic is that God wants to meet the need you have now.  Not tomorrow.  Not yesterday.  TODAY!  

God is not playing a game with you.  He knows your needs and He will meet them immediately.  You might be thinking to yourself right now “well God is not meeting my needs today”.  Really?  To my knowledge none of o you are homeless.  No one in this room is worried about where their next meal will come from.  Anyone naked in here this morning?  No?  You will go  home today and open that fridge and you will have choices for food and drink.  God IS meeting your needs.  Not only that, He IS doing so much more for you and I today.  

Philippians 4:19 ESV
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

 Jesus’ Message Is Our Ministry

I. The Flow of Prayer
II. The Immediacy of Prayer
III. The Benefit of Prayer
Matthew 6:11 ESV
Give us this day our daily bread…”

Point:
When Jesus says we’re to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he’s talking about far more than just bread. In fact, the Bible tells us that bread represents four things.

1. Bread represents the necessities of life. 

This is the economy of God. God says, “I supply it. You gather it.” When you pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” it doesn’t mean you sit on the couch and wait for God to throw you money. You’ve got to work! Even the Israelites had to go out and pick up the manna. Work is a part of God’s purpose for your life. It builds character. Proverbs 14:23 says, “Hard work always pays off, mere talk puts no bread on the table” (MSG).

2. Bread represents God’s Word.

The Bible is spiritual food. Bread is a symbol for scripture. The Bible says, “People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT). When the children of Israel were walking to the Promised Land, God dropped manna from Heaven for the people to pick up because they had nothing to eat.

God gave them this bread to teach them that people need more than bread for their life. Real life comes by feeding on every word of the Lord. You don’t just need physical nourishment; you also need spiritual nourishment.

3.Bread represents God’s family and fellowship.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The bread which we break, does it not mean [that in eating it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the body of Christ?” (AMP)

Bread is a metaphor for the family of God. You need God’s people in your life! Whether or not you have a physical family, God wants you to be part of his family that will last forever — the Church. It is to be a place of fellowship.

4.Bread represents salvation.
Jesus chose bread to represent his sacrifice in communion. Every time we eat the bread and drink the wine or juice, it is a reminder of how much God loves us and the sacrifice he made so that we can go to Heaven.

Whatever your need is — physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual — God will take care of it if you will depend on him. Pray today, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and trust God to provide for you in every way.

Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT
“People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” 

Don’t Delay…Pray!


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