The Provision of God, Pt. 1

  • Nathan Schneider
bread and wheat

Present circumstances have me thinking a lot about prayer. Oh, there’s the whole global pandemic, sure. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Three weeks ago, baby Thatcher Finn Schneider came into our family. That first week was a bit surreal. I was somewhat disconnected from normal life. Our other two boys were being spoiled cared for out at Nanna and Gramp’s house and I was taking the week off from work. So Natasha, Thatcher and I had about four blissful days in a quiet house enjoying the new normal before big brother and bigger brother came home. Those are the moments when you consider life’s delicate beauty, where your thoughts turn to God’s kindness and goodness.

But this is where that global pandemic comes into the picture. Little did I know that all the commotion coming out of China was only a few weeks and a Delta flight away from my front door. Thus I now find myself holed up in a house with my wife and two three (that’s going to take some getting used to!) boys contemplating different aspects of life–its fragility, starkness, and desperation.

And it’s the nexus of these two realities–a new baby and a global threat–that have forced me to consider my own prayer life. I suppose it doesn’t take a new baby to be tempted to worry about the future right now. The economic impacts of COVID-19 have been global and devastating. Many people are wondering what next month is going to look like. Will I have enough money to pay my mortgage? To cover my bills? To feed my kids? Will my business recover? Can I retire when I planned to? These are not sideline issues. These are questions that are staring many people in the face right now. Maybe you.

So for my first foray into our pastor’s blog, I want to focus on prayer, because I believe that prayer is not only one of the most neglected disciplines in the Christian life, but it’s also one of the most powerful expressions of a believer’s faith and theology. It is the consummation of doctrine and devotion. James 2:26 says that “faith apart from works is dead.” The same could be said about faith apart from prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer

It’s hard to talk about prayer without starting with the prayer Jesus modeled for his disciples in in the Sermon on the Mount:

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:9-13).

Someday I’ll write a whole series on this prayer, since it warrants that kind of treatment. But for the next few weeks, I want to use my opportunities on this blog to explore just one verse: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

On it’s own, it’s such a simple statement–a request for God to provide for our needs. But when we look a little closer, we come to see that this verse is actually the first request in this model prayer by Jesus. Everything before this has been aspects of prayer focused on God–his Fatherhood, his holiness, his kingdom, his will. The bulk of this model prayer calls the believer to look upward, not inward–to consider God before considering self.

There’s a reality check in there for us. Circumstances like these tend to draw our eyes inward. Our eyes focus on the problems, on the difficulties, on the crisis. We become myopic. We forget our doctrine–and when our doctrine goes, what’s the need for devotion?

I think that’s why Jesus taught his disciples to focus on God first. There will always be crises. Jeff taught as much from Hebrews 12–you’ll always be fighting a besetting sin or trodding through a difficult circumstance. That’s the Christian life in a nutshell. The key to a resilient prayer life is to remember who God is. When you know him, fear him, desire him–that’s when the present circumstances settle into proper perspective.

The Promise of Provision

But one thing the Bible is clear about is that God is our provider. That’s Theology 101. Jesus taught his disciples to seek God for their daily needs because he is the fulfillment and provider of their daily needs. And when we look elsewhere in the Bible, we find resounding promises that God does and will provide for our needs. Just consider this promise from Philippians:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

That’s an amazingly clear statement about God’s provision in your life. But if we’re going to understand what it means to pray the way Jesus taught us to pray–to ask God to provide for our daily needs and trust that he willwe have to address a fundamental question:

How does God supply all our needs?

Next week (when it’s my turn to write again), we’re going to try to answer that question by going all the way back to the beginning of this magnificent epistle and capturing the entire flow of Paul’s purpose in writing it.

Until next week…