(This is the third in a series of blog posts inspired by The Chosen, a multi-season series about the life of Jesus and His followers. Each post will highlight a quote sourced from Season 1. For the first two posts, see Chosen Reflections: I Have Called You By Name and Chosen Reflections: The Difference)
Chosen Reflections: Provision
“Give us this day our daily bread . . .”
Sound familiar? If you grew up in a Christian family—even if it were Christian in name only—you probably recognize these words from what is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Many of us learned the words at such a young age that we repeated them without fully understanding the meaning. Even as adults, the phrase, “God will provide,” is bandied about often enough that it has become clichéd.
Then we have the Bible verses that seem to imply God owes us whatever we ask for. Verses such as:
- “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” ~ Mt. 21:22 (ESV)
- “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” ~ John 16:24 (ESV)
- “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil. 4:19 (ESV)
But do we truly believe God will provide? We’ve seen enough lack—in the form of hunger, abuse, homelessness, and more—to cause us to wonder about the truth of this statement.
Still, perhaps the better question to ask is not whether God will provide, but rather, what motivates our requests?
God isn’t a genie in a bottle, summoned to grant our every wish. He not only knows our needs before we do, He provides for those needs. Unfortunately, we don’t always understand the difference between needs and wants.
A child may throw a temper tantrum if he doesn’t get what he wants. But rarely will he have a tantrum over something he needs. That’s because most parents ensure their children’s needs are met before it gets to that point. Do we have the same childlike faith that our heavenly Father will meet our needs?
I’ve personally had to wrestle with this question during the past several years in this new season of life as a widow. And I’ve seen God meet my needs again and again. Not necessarily my wants, but absolutely meet my needs. In every situation when I reached the limit of my own resources, whether physical strength, finances, or plain old weariness, my heavenly Father has met my needs.
But what about those Bible verses? Let’s take a closer look:
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” ~ Mt. 21:22 (ESV)
What is the object of our faith? Our faith is not in our request. Our faith is in the nature of our God who has the power to provide. So when we ask, we are asking the One who knows better than we what our needs truly are.
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” ~ John 16:24 (ESV)
How often do we tack the phrase, “in Jesus’s name,” to the end of our prayers? But that’s a misuse of this verse. “In Jesus’s name” is not a magic expression that guarantees a yes to our request. Rather, it’s the equivalent of declaring that the request is consistent with Jesus’s nature and authority and He would make the same request for us that we’re making for ourselves. Can we truly say this is an accurate description of every request we make of God?
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil. 4:19 (ESV)
He will supply every need, not every want. And sometimes what I really need is not what I think I need. When my husband was dying of cancer, we thought he needed physical healing. As I look back, I can see his greatest need was permanent, eternal healing instead of the limited physical healing we asked for.
In episode 3 of season 1 of The Chosen, when a group of young children asked Jesus how He earned money to take care of His needs, He answered, “My Father provides everything I need.”
Can you and I say the same thing with the same confidence?