Tony Evans - The Provision of Prayer
It is a joy to be able to share Thanksgiving with you. I know that this season can often be a tough time for people, as we go through the ups and downs of our own lives and what's happening in the world around us. But if you think hard enough, long enough, and deep enough, there is still plenty to give God thanks for. If your basic needs are met, that's a reason to give thanks. And then if he's given you extra and over and above that, well then give him extra thanks. But also, give him faith thanks. Thank him for what you're trusting him to do, that he has not done yet. And just know that we at The Urban Alternative join you in expressing our gratitude to God for the privilege he's given us to take his truth and proclaim it worldwide. So, may God's favor be on you, because he responds to thanksgiving. So, give him plenty of thanks so you give him plenty to respond to, as you prepare for the rest of this year. God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving.
Give us this day our daily bread. Now, before we go any further, I want you to understand where it's positioned in the prayer. He doesn't start off, the Lord doesn't tell his disciples to start off praying, "Give us this day our daily bread". He says, "Where you start is hallowing my name, submitting yourself to the authority of my kingdom, and yielding to my will". Now we can get to, "Give us this day our daily bread". See, a lot of us want to reverse the order of the prayer. Give us this day our daily prayer comes after you put God in his proper place. So, that leads to the first of three thoughts I want to give you from this line today. The first one is the source of your provision. God is your only bona fide source. Everything else is a resource, and he can shift resources whenever he wants, because he is the sole source. Your bank is not your source. Your money is not your source. Your job is not your source. Your sugar daddy is not your source. You only have one source, and that source is God. Everything else, the bank, your money, the job, the people you know, they are merely a resource or a mechanism through which God uses.
Now, the beauty of knowing that you only have one source and everything else is a mere resource is that now you put the proper focus on your source, knowing he can shift the resource any time he chooses. He can move it about, he can flip it, he can change it, he can destroy it, he can build it up, because you weren't looking to any of those resources to be your source. The moment you make a resource, job, money, bank, people, the moment you make a resource a source, that's called idolatry, because idols in the Bible were things people looked at to meet their needs independently of God. Since God is your only source, here it is, no resource can own you. If God is your only source, no resource can control you. No resource can threaten you, and no resource can ruin you, 'cause your resource was never your source. Your source was the living and true God.
Psalm 104 talks about how God is our source and our provider. I'll just read a few of the verses, beginning with verse 10 of Psalm 104. "He sends forth springs in the valley that flow between the mountains, that give to every beast of the field, and the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Besides them, the birds of the heaven dwell. They lift up their voices among the branches. He waters the mountain. The earth is satisfied with the fruit of his works". Verse 14, "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle and the vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth". And here's the one many of you will like, verse 15, "and wine which makes man's hearts glad". He says in verse 27, "They all wait for you to give them their food in due season. You give to them. They gather it up. You open your hand, they are satisfied with good; but if you hide your face, they are dismayed. You take away their spirit. They expire and return to the dust".
All of that is saying is if it weren't for God, you couldn't go to the grocery store. Anything in the grocery store had to be taken from a mill or from a butcher shop. That meant it had to be raised on a farm or cattle herded on a ranch. That only means that there had to be seeds to be planted or animals that could reproduce themselves. The only reason you get to eat cereal with milk is 'cause cows feed on grass that allows the system that God put in them to produce the milk that allowed you to enjoy your cereal. So, you take away God, you take away seed. You take away God, you take away land. You take away God, you take away rain. You take away God, you take away sunshine. You take away God, you take away the milk. You take away the milk, the grocer has nothing to sell. So, when you go to the grocery store, it's God that makes that possible, because the store is a resource. God is the source. And he says he is the only source, and those he says who fear him, Psalm 34, verses 8 through 10, understand that he's the source.
Matthew 7 through 11, invites God's children to come to him as a Father and recognize that he is your source. Your commitment to the kingdom, the rule of God, will affect God's provision in your life. In Matthew chapter 6, verses 31 to 34, God tells his people, "Don't worry about what you're going to eat, or what you're going to drink, or what you're going to wear. Don't make that an obsession," he says. He says, "All these things the Gentiles, the non-Christians are all nervous about, and seek, and panic over". He says, "But your heavenly Father, he already knows what you need". And so he says in verse 33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his standard, his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you". God says, "I've got you. I've got your back. I know what you need. And if you would focus on my kingdom, then you'll see me focus on your provision. You'll see the kind of provider I can be". For God wants to be your provider.
The point of that verse, "Seek ye first," is that, here it is, the spiritual must precede the physical. That's why I love Deuteronomy 8, verses 11 through 18. God says, "I let you go hungry. I let your stuff spill over". Let me put it in everyday language. "I let you lose your job. I let there be a depression economically in society that eroded some of your 401. I let there be a downturn in your situation". So, God will let you go hungry. He comes in verse 18, and he says, "For it is the Lord who gives you the power to make wealth". So, why do I have to make this big deal about God? Well, let's start with the fact that if there is no God, you don't get up. Let's start with that. You don't even get to start your day if there is no God. If there is no God, you don't have a arm to deal the steering wheel or a leg to press the accelerator and go to the brake. If there is no God, you don't have a mind to even know whether you're going the right way. If there is no God, there is no body to even get tired. And if there's no God, there's no home to come home to.
See, if there is no God, there is no job, and there is no job opportunity. God says, "I even give you the power to make what you make, to provide what you have. So, nothing gets to you that doesn't come through my hand first. I am your source, my name, my kingdom, my will, and then you will experience my provision at a whole 'nother level". He told Adam and Eve, "I have an assignment for you, and I have this assignment for you, and I'm going to make provision for you to fulfill the assignment. Every tree of the garden is gonna be full and lush, so you can fulfill the kingdom assignment I give to you". Yes, God will allow things to dry up, but he'll also not only to help us remember he's our source. He will allow us things to dry up in order to move us to his next place of provision.
In 1 Kings chapter 17, God led Elijah to the brook filled with water. He was thirsty. He got to drink from the brook, but then he got hungry. The Bible says God sent a raven to feed him. Some of you didn't hear that. God sent a raven to feed him. Now, a raven in the Bible is an unclean bird. That is a forbidden bird. They could not eat ravens, for they were unclean. So, let me tell you about God. He'll even use something unclean to make provision for you. He'll use the unrighteous to pay a bill. He'll use an ungodly opportunity to take care of it. For just 'cause you can't do nothing with it doesn't mean he can't do nothing with it. So, he used the raven, but then something happened, the Bible says. It says in 1 Kings 17, it says the brook dried up, no more water, and the ravens stopped bringing food. So now he's thirsty again. He's hungry again. But then God said, "I have a widow in Zarephath, and I have commanded her to provide for you".
So, watch this. God provided for him at the brook. But when he got too comfortable at the brook, and needs were being met at the brook, God dried up the brook, held back the raven, 'cause he wanted to move him to a new opportunity in Zarephath. Sometime God will let a pink slip be put on your desk, and you're depressed 'cause, "God, how could you make me lose my job"? when he's just moving you on to the next opportunity. Because if you're submitted to his kingdom, God is your provider. He is your source. Some of us are complaining about what went wrong, when God is trying to move us to the next thing that is right. That's why you've gotta praise him when stuff goes bad, 'cause God is often doing something new, when you're submitted to his kingdom, submitted to his will, and you're hallowing and praising his name. And so the spiritual must come first. The first part of the prayer must be precede, "Give us this day our daily bread". male announcer: Dr Evans will be right back after this important announcement.
Give us this day our daily bread is to remind you that the one you're asking to give it is the source. Everything else is merely a resource. Having established the source, let's look at the substance. He calls it daily bread. Now, I don't know how it is today, whether it's even used anymore, but when I was growing up, we called money bread. We'd say, "Hook me up with some bread". So, when Jesus says "bread," he's talking about provision, that God wants us to look at him as his provider of the necessities of life: food, clothes, shelter. Those are the fundamental provisions. Those are the needs. Anything above that is a want. Nothing wrong with getting wants, but you must have needs being met for wants to be enjoyed. God says, "I am the provider of bread, and I am the one who will make sure that what is needed is provided, if I'm prioritized in the right place".
Now, to be fair, I must tell you a few times when God will not provide. God will stop providing when it's time to take you home. When it's time to take you home, he will make this earth's provision insufficient for you. So, either you can't take it, you can't eat it, you can't buy the medicine, the medicine won't help you. He will keep provision away when he's transitioning you to your eternal provision as a child of God. So, that's a time he may not or will not provide. A second time he will not provide, which I've already hinted to, is when he's trying to grow us spiritually. So, in order to grow us spiritually, he'll let the brook dry up. He'll let the ravens stop. He'll let you lose the job. He'll let the money run low. He will allow that.
That's what he says in James 1. "I want you to praise me when things are going south". Why? Because when things are going south, it forces you to look up. When things are up, you may no longer feel the need to look up. Now, the final reason why God may delay provision is because of disobedience or carnality. That is you're living in rebellion, so he stops providing. He stops meeting the need, or he allows the need that's being met to be destructive to you. See, God will even over-bless you. He will over-bless you, so that the stuff that's coming in, see, 'cause now that you can afford a house, it may no longer be a home. You may have a place you don't even want to go to anymore 'cause it's a miserable place. You may be able to have a car, but now you have nowhere to take it, because your health can't even get in it.
So, God will allow you to get provision independent of him, but you'll have a hole so big in your soul, you'll drive a Mack truck through it, because you wanted it independently of God. So, he'll either keep it, or he'll let you have more of it than you can handle, until you learn man does not live by bread alone, but he lives by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. You see, God wants to provide the provision. Now, there's somebody else who wants to provide for you. He says, "Give us this daily bread". So, let me tell you somebody else who wants to provide for you: the devil wants to cook for you. You didn't know that? The devil wants to cook for you. He's got a culinary cuisine program with your name on it. How do I know that? Because in Matthew chapter 4, verse 4, the devil told Jesus, "Turn these stones into bread. Jesus, you've been fasting 40 days and 40 nights. You know you're hungry. I know you're hungry, and I have an Operation Bread Basket food program with your name on it".
Now if the devil will do that to the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, you know he's got a meal planned for you. He says, "Turn these stones into bread, since you are the Son of God". So, he's saying to you and me, "Since you are a child of God, I have a job for you. I have a way you can make money. I have a way you can get some bread. I have a way you can get this thing that is not in God's will, but I can work it out for you, if you just hook up with me and my posse. I can work it out for you if you'll hang with me. If you'll just disregard God for a moment and just do it my way, I can work this thing out for you".
There are a lot of people here who have been tempted to follow the devil in order to get the money, to follow the devil in order to be accepted by the folks at work, to follow the devil in order to get the opportunity, because he can guarantee you that if you do it his way, he's got the bread to offer you, like he offered it to Jesus. But what did Jesus say? "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God". What does he mean? He's saying, "You don't only go for the bread; you go for the source that provided it".
Just 'cause it's money doesn't mean it's money that you should be handling. Just because it's a job doesn't mean it's the opportunity for you to take advantage of. Is the devil providing it, or is God providing it? Because if the devil provides it, then he can lay claim on what happens to it. He wants to be the provider.
By the way, the Bible talks about this in 1 Timothy 4:1-5, talks about the doctrine of demons. Says demons have teaching, and their teaching involves food, what you eat and what you don't eat, and the devil has a cuisine program. So, what does God say in verse 5 of 1 Timothy 4? He says, "Sanctify your food with the word of God and prayer". Ooh, wait a minute. Set your food apart, sanctify, set it apart to God by the Word of God and prayer, because the devil has a feeding program, calls it a doctrine of demons.
Let me tell you another reason why you've got to sanctify your food? Because the devil wants to contaminate it. So, you'd better recognize God when you sit down to eat, 'cause you could be sitting down eating carcinogenics that can do havoc with your body, so you'd better set that meal apart to God and let God know he's your source. And if anything is in these potatoes, if anything is in this vegetable, if anything is in this meat that's gonna mess me up, then I want to set it apart to you, so that you use it for my body.
Finally, let's look at the schedule. "Give us this day our daily bread". Give us this day our daily bread. He used daily twice. Give us this day daily bread. That's two times in a short phrase he says, today. Matthew 6, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be granted to you". And then he says, "Don't worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble of its own". Today. Here's our problem. If you live in the West, and even in the second world, where it's more socialistic, and there's a third world where it's more emerging civilizations, when you live in the West, this world that we live in, we technically don't have to pray for daily food because of refrigeration. We already have tomorrow's food.
When the Bible was written, that was not an option. They didn't have refrigeration like we have it today. You know how they ate? One day at a time. So, it forced you to have to be dependent on other systems to be at work for you to even eat today. Daily bread now changes 'cause I need today's bread to work for me. Now, the reason he says daily bread, follow this now, is because of the purpose of bread. The purpose of provision comes underneath God's kingdom. When God gave Adam and Eve food, it was because he gave them a physical body. That physical body needed nutrients in order to function.
The first reason why God gave to Adam and Eve food was to fuel them, fuel them, to provide them the nourishment and the nutrients. Why did they need the nourishments and nutrients? To carry out the kingdom assignment that had been given to them. God gave them an assignment to fuel you. To produce the results of the assignment, I'm going to give you food that your body needs to be fueled, in order to fulfill the assignment I gave you. And, oh, by the way, I'm going to make it entertaining. I'm going to make it juicy and enjoyable. We all love a good cook, but the goal is to fuel you for kingdom purposes. The daily bread was to give you enough today in order for you to be fueled over the next 24 hours to carry forth the hallowing of my name, the submitting to my kingdom, and the accomplishing of my will, not just so you could develop a disease after you eat and go to sleep. It was to fuel you to carry out my purposes.
So, if you eat good, enjoy good, but never are carrying out God's purposes, you are fueled as a fool, because the fuel is not being used for the kingdom purpose for which it has been assigned. It is only being used for your personal fulfillment and enjoyment. You turn your daily bread into daily fuel to carry out God's kingdom purposes and his will for your life. God is very motivated to give you this day the daily food and the protection of that food, 'cause he knows you're gonna do his program with it. You're now fulfilling his will, his purpose in relationship to him.
So the context of daily food is to recognize God is your source on a daily basis. I want you to move in a gratitude, while you make your requests made known unto him. And I want you to know that your God and my God is a providing God. When he led Israel in Exodus 15, he led them by the waters of Marah. They started to drink, and they said, "Ah, we can't drink this. This thing is bitter. It's not gonna work". And the Bible said they grumbled. But then God told Moses, "Go get a stick. Go get a piece of wood". He took the piece of wood and put it in the waters of Marah, and the Bible says, "And the bitterness left, and the water became sweet".
God is so good at provision, he can take inanimate objects and turn a situation around. If you let God be the provider, his sufficiency, tell him what you want. Be grateful for what you have, and put it in the priority of his name and his kingdom, you will see how much of a provider God can be. God is more than enough for whatever your situation happens to be.