Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Ask Your Father

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss on one of the reasons our prayers might go unanswered.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Some of our requests are wrong-headed, they’re misguided, or they’re short-sighted. We think they’re good things, but our Father knows that some of the things we’re asking for, just like some of the things your three- or six-year-old may ask you for or your sixteen-year-old may ask you for—they think they’re good things, but as a mom, you know those things would not really be good.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, October 19.

The words to the Lord’s Prayer are very familiar to a lot of people. They’ve grown up saying, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

Nancy’s been helping a lot of us move from knowing those words to living and praying the ideas behind those words. If you’ve missed any of her series, The Lord’s Prayer, I hope you’ll get a copy at ReviveOurHearts.com and re-invigorate your prayer life.

Today she begins explaining the phrase:

Nancy: “Give us this day our daily bread.” That’s the petition we’re talking about in the Lord’s Prayer. Throughout the Lord’s Prayer and the Sermon on the Mount and other parts of the Gospels, Jesus urges us to ask our Heavenly Father for the things we need—actually to ask, not just to hope for or wait for or think He will provide them or dream He will provide them—but to actually take the step of asking for God to provide our daily needs. Then we’re to expect God to meet those needs.

If you move on in the Sermon on the Mount into Matthew chapter seven, the chapter after the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says,

Ask, and it will be given to you. . . . For everyone who asks receives. Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him. (vv. 7-11)

Do you ask? This sounds so basic. I’m not presuming that this is profound, but I think it’s so simple that sometimes we miss it! Jesus encourages us to ask our Father for the things that we need.

In Psalm 104, the writer talks about how even the animals seek their food from God. It says, “The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God” (v. 21).

Then in verse 23 of Psalm 104, it says, “Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.” To say we’re asking God for provision is not to say that therefore we just sit and don’t work.

In fact, God’s Word says that if a man will not work, he shall not eat (2 Thes. 3:10). God has ordered that we should work, but even in our working, we’re acknowledging that we are seeking our provision from the Lord.

It’s not our own strength, the sweat of our own brow, our own efforts that provide for our needs. It goes on to say in Psalm 104, “These all [from the lions to the men working out in the fields] look to you, to give them their food in due season” (v. 27). Even when we’re working, we’re realizing it’s not a paycheck. It’s not an employer ultimately that is my provider. It is God, my Heavenly Father, who is my provider.

Jesus goes on in the Sermon on the Mount, before the Lord’s Prayer and after the Lord’s Prayer, to say that God already knows what we need. That raises the obvious question: Why ask? Why tell God our needs if He already knows what we need?

As we’ve said earlier in this series, we’re not telling God in order to inform Him, but because He is our Father who wants a relationship with us. He wants us to keep going to Him, communicating with Him, needing Him, desiring Him. As we ask, it’s important that we ask for the right things. I just read the passage in Matthew 7 about the son who asks for bread or the son who asks for fish.

If the son in that passage were to ask for a stone or for a serpent—the other things that are referred to—that wise father would probably not fulfill that son’s request. The father would know it’s useless at best or dangerous at worst to give that son what he asked for. Our Heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children who ask Him for the right things. He would not be a good Father if He catered to requests that we make that are not for good things.

Some of our requests are wrong-headed, they’re misguided, or they’re short-sighted. We think they’re good things, but our Father knows that some of the things we’re asking for, just like some of the things your three- or six-year-old may ask you for, or your sixteen-year-old may ask you for—they think they’re good things, but as a mom, you know those things would not really be good.

You would not be a loving or wise parent if you gave your child things that they ask for if those requests were not in fact, good things. Our Heavenly Father knows what we really need. He knows what’s good for us, and those are the things for which we should pray and which we can rightly expect Him to provide.

As we ask our Father to meet our needs, I want to remind us that we don’t have to plead or beg or be frantic. We just need to ask. There is simplicity in this Father-child relationship here. God is not reluctant to bless us. It’s not like we have to pry His fingers open and say, “God, please bless me. I know You don’t want to, but I need it.”

God wants to bless us. But He wants us to express our need, to ask Him. He wants us to ask Him specifically. Tell God your needs. Do you need daily bread? Do you need bread today? Tell Him what you need. Ask Him, and expect Him to provide what you need. As we ask, we need to ask humbly—not demanding. Sometimes we make idols out of our requests.

It’s not wrong to long for a mate if you’re a single woman. It’s not wrong to long for a child and to say, “Lord, would you give to my husband and me a child?” But those things can become idols when we begin to demand them of God and to say, “Lord, this is a need. This is something I have to have. This is something I cannot live without.”

Then they become idols, and God says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). God loves me too much to give me some of those idols that I’ve made in my life. In some cases, the worst thing God could do for us—the most unloving thing—would be to give us something we’ve been demanding that means more to us than God Himself.

We need Him more than we need anything God could give us. That’s why before we pray for daily bread, we pray, “Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. Our Father in heaven, we want You more than we want even what we consider our daily necessities.”

In Psalm 78, we read that the Children of Israel tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved (v. 18). How often do we do that? We get bitter. We get upset. God doesn’t do what we wanted Him to do.

He doesn’t answer prayer in the way we hoped He would, and then we say, “I’m not going to talk to You any more. You didn’t answer my prayer. Someone I loved died. You let that happen.”

We might not say those words, or we might, but in our hearts, we’re demanding the thing we craved. The spirit of this petition, “Give us this day our daily bread,” is that we will be content with what God provides for each day, that we will not demand that God meet our gluttonous requests.

That means we need to be careful what we ask God for, and how we ask Him. Psalm 106 says, “They had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them” (v. 14-15). God may give you what you’re demanding, but with it you may get “leanness of soul,” as some of the translations say.

To ask God for our daily bread is to acknowledge that He is our provider, that He is the source of everything we need and everything we have—it all comes from His hand. That leads to a spirit of gratitude and dependence, thankfulness, and dependence—the realization that we are utterly dependent on God, that we are unable to sustain ourselves or to provide for our own needs apart from Him.

Regardless of how gifted we are, how capable, how hard-working, we’re saying, “Lord, I need You. I cannot live without You. I cannot survive a second apart from the Creator who holds my next breath in His hand.”

I think it’s hard for us in the affluent West where we live to feel the need to pray for daily bread. I know that some of our listeners really do feel that need, and perhaps some in this room, but for most of us, our freezers have enough food to last us for a while.

So when we say, “I need a new outfit,” or “I need some groceries,” we’re using that word loosely. There’s not really a need in more cases than not. It’s hard to have that sense of dependence—utter dependence on God to meet our daily needs. But when we ask God for daily bread, we’re recognizing that everything we have, every good gift is from above. We recognize that God is our provider and that we would not be able to survive apart from Him.

This request highlights the contrast between us and God. We see that:

  • God is independent.
  • He is uncreated.
  • He is self-existing and self-sustaining.
  • He needs no one and nothing. He never has to ask anyone for anything. He’s indebted to no one.

On the other hand, we are created beings. We are utterly dependent on Him for breath, for life, for everything. How does this verse speak to the vast majority of us who have so much and don’t literally need to ask God for our daily bread? Did Jesus just mean that those who were in poverty or those who couldn’t make their mortgage payment should pray this prayer? I don’t think so.

I believe that all of us, as God’s children, are supposed to pray and ask for daily bread. As we do, we recognize, in fact, that no matter how full our freezer is, we still need Him for everything, including those necessities that may be so plenteous in our lives.

“We are acknowledging that we’re dependent on You, Lord, to provide everything we need.” Something as simple as food and every other provision in our lives should be received with thanksgiving—a grateful heart—realizing that apart from God we would starve. We need to realize that even if our freezer is full, to be thankful and realize we are dependent on Him.

A child of God who doesn’t pray this prayer; the child of God who doesn’t ask God to meet his basic needs is unlikely to recognize that God is the source of every good gift. Then do you know what happens next? We become ungrateful.

When we become ungrateful, we take things for granted, and then pride wells up in our prayerless, ungrateful hearts. Then do you know what comes next? When the provision or the plenty is removed or delayed, we become bitter, and I think it starts with failing to ask, as Jesus has instructed that we should.

As I was growing up, one of the passages my dad brought to our family’s attention was from Deuteronomy chapter 8. You may want to turn there. I can still hear my dad reading this passage to us.

The Lord blessed him with a successful business that he started when we were very little, and more often than not, we had more things than we needed. I think there were a lot of reasons for God’s blessing in his life, and he certainly felt it was a huge stewardship to be as generous with others as God had been with him.

He tried to teach about those things. He would take us to Deuteronomy chapter 8 and remind us of the importance of having a grateful and humble heart. I find it very important in this age of plenty, even when we’re our poorest, most of us have more than what we really need.

God’s Word says, “With food and shelter, we should be content” (1 Tim. 6:6-8 paraphrase). We say, “How much food? How much shelter? How much clothing do we need to be content?” Deuteronomy 8 is always a passage that helps recalibrate my own heart.

Verse 2 of Deuteronomy 8, “You shall remember.” Remember—you’re going to see that word again in this passage. “Remember the whole way that the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger.” (vv. 2–3)

God sometimes lets us hunger; lets us be without things that we consider basic necessities. Why did God let them hunger? So He could humble them, so He could test them, and so He could feed them with manna—supernatural provision.

In Egypt, they didn’t have to have God. They did, but they didn’t realize it. Pharaoh was their provider. God put them in the wilderness where they didn’t have those leeks and onions and garlic and all those great spicy foods of Egypt.

They had to depend on God consciously for daily provision. God brings manna out of the sky to rest on the ground every morning. God says, “[I wanted to feed] you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that come from the mouth of the Lord” (v. 3).

God’s saying, “I humbled you; I made you. Do without at times so that you can come to realize who your provider is, and so you can come to realize that you can’t make it without Me.”

In that sense—hunger, whether it’s chosen, through a period of fasting or it’s imposed on us through circumstances over which we have no control, actually can become a blessing. It’s when we’re hungry, whether literally or figuratively, that we cry out and say, “Lord, we can’t live without You." We recognize our dependence.

In verse 7 of Deuteronomy chapter 8, He says, “The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land. A land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity” (vv. 7–9).

That’s the opposite of what we read in verse 3 where God let them hunger. God says, “I’m taking you into a land where you will eat bread without scarcity in which you will lack nothing.”

Who was taking them there? God was. Who made that land of plenty? God did. Who was going to still be their provider, not just in the wilderness when they were hungry, but in the Promised Land when they had plenty? God was their provider. Verse 10, “And you shall eat and be full.” There’s nothing wrong with having plenty if you recognize where it came from; if you keep a grateful, humble, dependent heart.

How do you express that? Verse 10,

And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. [Eat until you’re full, and then thank the Lord. Thank the Lord! He’s the source. He’s the one who provided.]

Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statues, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up [pride], and you forget the Lord your God.” (vv. 10–14)

What happens when you eat, you’re full, and you don’t bless the Lord? Then you forget the Lord. You become proud.

You forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. The Lord who fed you in the wilderness. [Remember that? The Lord who met your needs, who brought that manna when you had nothing to eat. You forget the Lord who did all this.]

Beware lest you say in your heart, "My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth." You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth.

And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them . . . (vv. 14–18)

Ladies, when you forget to be thankful, you’re just a step away from becoming an idolater.

Thankfulness—the attitude of gratitude, blessing the Lord when we have little and when we have much. Paul says, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content, to be abased or to abound” (Phil. 4:11–12).

In each case, we need to remember the Lord. There’s a caution: Don’t forget God. A people who are starving have an easier time remembering God, perhaps, than those of us who have eaten until we’re stuffed—literally and otherwise—with so many good things.

And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. (v. 19)

Abraham Lincoln was a man who knew the importance of humility and gratitude—remembering God. On March 30 of 1863, President Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for a national day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. These words will be familiar to many of you, but I think they’re words we need to hear again and again—and today, in our nation in particular. He said:

We have been recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Do you ask God for daily bread? I’ve been convicted through this study myself of how little I ask God for the basic necessities of life. Do you know what? I just assume that they’ll be there because they always have been. As a result there are times, as it relates to just basic living, when I forget God. Have you remembered today to ask Him, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread? Meet our needs, our basic needs.”

Then when God sends provision, whether it’s huge or small, expected or unexpected, basic or essential or something above and beyond your basic needs—do you thank God for His provision?

Think about our giving thanks at meals. I confess that for me that is so often a meaningless routine—vain repetitions. I want to thank God for His provision, to offer heartfelt gratitude to the Lord who has provided our daily bread.

Leslie: I’m thankful for the Word of God—our daily bread—and I’m thankful for teachers like Nancy Leigh DeMoss who help me understand God’s Word better. Nancy will be right back to lead us in thanking God for His provision. I hope you’ll pray with her in just a minute.

Nancy’s teaching today makes me remember a meaningful series she brought us called, The Attitude of Gratitude. We don’t hear enough about the biblical concept of thankfulness, and that series by Nancy will affect your attitude throughout the day when you’re tempted to gripe about little things.

You can find archived series like that one at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you visit the website, go to the search box and type in the topic you’re interested in. It could be gratitude or anything else you need.

A list of articles and program transcripts will appear. This deep, practical teaching is available to you all the time. You can also find a lot of Nancy’s archived audio.

When you’re dealing with a question or an issue, I hope you’ll think of ReviveOurHearts.com. Maybe you’d rather have information delivered to you. That’s where the Revive Our Hearts Daily Connection can help.

When you sign-up, you’ll receive key quotes from Nancy’s teaching every weekday. Some days, maybe you only have time for the key quotes, and they’ll help you through your busy day, but when you’re ready to learn more, use the quick links to access that day’s program online.

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Does the Bible really call money the root of all evil? Nancy addresses that next week. Now, Nancy’s back to thank God for daily bread and everything else.

NancyLord, we are thankful. Thank You for meeting our needs. Thank You for the little things that You’ve given today that we didn’t even stop to ask You for or thank You for.

We’re stopping right now to say Father, You are a good Father, and we’re so grateful for the house we have, the roof over our head, the bed we slept in last night, the pillow that we have under our head, the air conditioning or the heat as the case may be, the climate control—just the comfort the conveniences, the furniture, the food, the automobiles we drive in, the contact lenses and eye glasses and hearing aids—just provision that’s on every front that You give to us in different seasons of life.

Thank You, Lord, for health, for protection, and for safety. You have met our needs so abundantly, and we want to remember You and say thank You, Lord. Thank You. Thank You, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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