People prefer to be rich rather than poor. It is therefore striking that in the Bible we encounter the prayer: "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread" (Proverbs 30:8). Agur, the person expressing this, does not ask for much: just an allotment of bread, a fixed portion. He leaves it up to the LORD God to establish that portion. This Old Testament prayer is echoed in the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Do you find it difficult or easy to pray like this? Or don’t you pray about your daily needs at all? The Bible calls us to focus not on earthly riches, but on the kingdom of God. That involves acknowledging that God is the Father and King of his people. He directs our lives. Within that context, we must do our work. The LORD God is all-powerful and merciful. Pray to him for daily food. By praying in this way, you oppose the spirit of the world. You reject the idea that man is self-sufficient. Man might think he is able to take care of himself. He might cherish the illusion that he is in full control of events. But God makes the sun shine and the rain fall. Without his blessings, crops will fail. It is a human inclination to desire an abundance of good things. When we understand that our calling is to live for God, this will lead to a reorientation of our lives. Through Jesus Christ, God gives the means we need to live for him. We learn to pray for what is needed to live for him in a fruitful way. Then we look for opportunities to serve him with what he provides.
A liberating petition
Where possible, we must do our daily work, using our abilities to the glory of God. We must also leave it up to him how he will bless this. The LORD determines the potential and the limits of our abilities. Knowing and acknowledging this can be a liberating experience. Don't take on too many responsibilities, trying to do more than you can actually handle. Even if you only work hard, keep in mind what your motives are. Are you doing this to serve God, or just to get even further ahead financially? There is more to life than economic gains. Do you have a family? You have more than just financial responsibilities toward them. We live in a world that is affected by man’s fall into sin. That means there are difficulties which we will have to face. This includes difficulties in our daily work. But we can lay them before the LORD God in prayer. That makes a big difference. In the midst of this world we can experience peace. The condition is, however, that we trust in God and ask him for our daily bread. As long as he has a task for us in this life, he will provide us with what we need.
Dr. Andrew J. Pol