Praying For God’s Provision: Asking In Accord With God’s Word
God is aware of our physical needs, and it is His delight to provide for His children. When we face times of need or we want increased funds for a specific project, we are to bring our petitions to God. By seeking Him first, we will be able to discern God’s direction through the provision or lack of funds, and He will be glorified as He provides for us and directs us according to His will.
Honor these truths as you ask God to provide for your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus:
Ask as a Child of God
The Lord’s Prayer begins with these words: “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).
As God’s children, we can depend on His fatherly care. “Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31–33).
Ask in the Name of Jesus Christ
Our justification before God rests in the work of Jesus Christ. “...but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God. ” (I Corinthians 6:11). It is only in the name of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit that we can approach God and make requests as His children. Therefore, when we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we are acknowledging our need for Jesus, recalling God’s mercy toward us when He gave us the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us.
As we pray in the name of Jesus, our prayers should reflect the nature and character qualities of Jesus that are represented in His name. For example, Jesus is the Light of the World. Therefore, asking God to bless a shady business deal would not reflect Jesus’ nature, since as Light, He would expose the wrong instead of approving dishonesty. Our prayers should align with the purity, mercy, justice, and righteousness of Christ.
Ask for the Sake of God’s Glory
The Lord’s Prayer continues with this phrase: “Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9). God’s glory is precious to Him, and He consistently displays it before men. As you pray, frame your requests in light of God’s glory and His reputation.
For example, when the Israelites sinned against God in the wilderness, He was ready to destroy them until Moses prayed that He would consider His covenant and His reputation. “And praying, I said: O Lord God, destroy not thy people, and thy inheritance, which thou hast redeemed in thy greatness, whom thou hast brought out of Egypt with a strong hand. Remember thy servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: look not on the stubbornness of this people, nor on their wickedness and sin: Lest perhaps the inhabitants of the land, out of which thou hast brought us, say: The Lord could not bring them into the land that he promised them, and he hated them: therefore he brought them out, that he might kill them in the wilderness,” (Deuteronomy 9:26–28).
Also, in the days of Israel’s evil King Ahab, God moved to overcome the armies of Syria, because the Syrian captains had taunted that God was not able to overcome them. Even though Ahab’s ways displeased God, He gave Ahab the victory to prove His power over the Syrians. “And a man of God coming, said to the king of Israel: Thus saith the Lord: Because the Syrians have said: The Lord is God of the hills, but is not God of the valleys: I will deliver all this great multitude into thy hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (I Kings 20:28).
Ask on the Authority of God’s Word and His Church
Our prayers should be guided by the Word of God and the Church. As we study the Bible to gain understanding and to learn about God’s nature, and follow the commandments given by God through His Church, we will have more confidence and direction in prayer.
When Nehemiah prayed for God to allow the Israelites to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he based his prayer on what he knew of God’s nature and on a clear promise in God’s Word, and in the commandments that God gave Moses. Before he went to appeal to King Artaxerxes, he prayed with these words:
I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandest thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandest thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: but if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man (Nehemiah 1:5–11).
Ask to Fulfill God’s Will
The Lord’s Prayer continues, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). When we ask God to provide for us, our petitions should be based on what we know of His will according to the Bible and the Church. As we understand how the Church and God’s Word relates to our lives, we can have a clear basis for effectively praying about our relationships, circumstances, finances, possessions, priorities, and attitudes.
For example, we know that it is God’s will that we walk in holiness. (See I Thessalonians 4:7.) Therefore, if we seek money, possessions, or promotions that would hinder Godly living, we are not praying according to God’s will. Also, God wants us to learn patience, and patience comes through tribulation. (See Romans 5:1–5.) Therefore, if we pray for God to remove a difficult situation that He has designed as a tool to teach us patience, our prayers are not in line with God’s will.
We know that the Church says that we are to be gathered togather on Sundays, “to keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work” -1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Commandments of the Church. So if we pray for a new fishing boat to take out on the lake on Sunday, then we know that is not in line with Gods commandment given by the Church. Likewise, if we are praying for a job to take care of our family, and a job presents its self that requires you to work on Sunday, you know that it is not an answered prayer from the Lord because he would never go against His Word.
The prophet Daniel discerned that it was God’s will for His people to return to the Promised Land, which led him to fervent prayer: “The first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, concerning which the word of the Lord came to Jeremias the prophet, that seventy years should be accomplished of the desolation of Jerusalem. And I set my face to the Lord my God, to pray and make supplication with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and I made my confession. . .” (Daniel 9:2–4).
Ask With a Discerning Heart
God promises to provide for our needs, which include food, clothing, and shelter. When God provides for these needs, we should not put those resources toward other things. For example, a person may enter into a major financial obligation and presumptuously expect God to provide the funds for it. Then, when God provides funds for food or clothing, that provision is mistakenly seen as evidence of His approval of the large financial obligation. It is important to discern between God’s provision for our basic needs and His provision in other areas.
Ask in Accordance With Scriptural Principles
Scripture relates that the laws of the harvest impact our giving and receiving. When the Apostle Paul urged the Corinthian believers to give cheerfully and generously to meet the needs of others, he said, “. . . He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (II Corinthians 9:6). A sower knows that he will reap what he sows, where he sows, more than he sows, and in a different season than he sows. Reaping the harvest requires patience!
In the life of Christ and the experience of the Apostle Paul and others, God often provided for their needs through the gifts of those to whom they had ministered. Also, in the early Church a widow’s support was based on her investment in the lives of others: “Let a widow be chosen of no less than threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband. Having testimony for her good works, if she have brought up children, if she have received to harbour, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work.” (I Timothy 5:9–10.) We should lead a generous life and trust God to provide for our future needs.
Ask Without Telling God How to Provide
If we assume we know how God will provide for our needs, we can easily develop attitudes of presumption, impatience, and ungratefulness, along with a tendency to show favoritism to those who have much to give. When God does not provide in the ways we expect, our disappointment can breed resentment toward God and the people to whom we looked for assistance.
God wants our focus to remain on Him for all of our provisions. For this reason, He will often provide what we need through totally unexpected sources. His resources and frame of reference reach beyond what we can comprehend!
Ask Without Demanding to Be “Repaid”
Sometimes when people give money, they expect God to give the same amount of money back to them. It may be that God will provide funds, but we should not count on them. Instead of funds, He may provide the actual items we need, new or used. He may provide intangible gifts, such as increased faith, joy, and peace. He may bless what we already have and cause it to last, as He did when the children of Israel were in the desert for forty years and their clothes and shoes did not wear out. (See Deuteronomy 29:5.)
Ask in Surrender to God’s Will
It is tempting to manipulate a situation so that what we desire comes to pass. However, taking a situation into our own hands usually leads to conflict, frustration, and discouragement. In order to truly seek God’s will and not our own, we should consider the benefits of receiving our request and the benefits of not receiving our request.
In this way, our expectations balance out and we can pray with a heart surrendered to God, trusting that He will do what is best for us and most glorifying to Him. When we have just as many reasons to thank God for not granting something to us as we have for receiving something, then we can take true delight in seeing God perform His perfect will, whatever it may be.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7).