“We who have renounced this world, and by the help of God’s grace, have forsaken the riches and pomps thereof, do hereby petition only for our food and sustenance, since our Lord hath taught us, That he who forsaketh not all, cannot be his disciple (Lk 14.33).
For he who is become a disciple of Christ, and according to the command of his Lord, hath forsaken all, ought to petition only for daily bread, and not be anxious and solicitous for the time to come, as our Lord hath taught, saying, Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matt 6.34).
‘Tis the duty therefore of a disciple of Christ, to petition for food only from day to day, since he is forbid to take thought for the morrow. For ‘tis absurd for us, who pray that the Kingdom of God may come quickly, to provide for a long life. To this purpose the blessed apostle, for the information and strengthening of our faith and hope hath taught us, That we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and rayment let us therewith be content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lists, which drown men in destruction and perdition; for the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have errer from the Faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Tim 6.7-10).
He teaches us that riches are not only to be despised, but counted dangerous, that they are the root of all the evils that do allure us, that they darken and deceive men’s understandings; for which reason God reproved the rich fool, who built his hopes upon the riches of this world, and boasted himself in the abundance of his fruits. Thou fool, this night shall they soul be required of thee, and then whose shall these things be which thou hast provided (Lk 12.20). The fool was delighting himself with the thoughts of his abundance the same night that he was to die and he whose life was at an end, was laying up stores for many years.
On the contrary, our Lord teaches us, that he is a perfect and consummate Christian, who selling all and distributing to the poor, doth lay up for himself treasure in heaven, and that he is fit to follow Christ, and to imitate his glorious sufferings, who being hindered by no worldly cares, is always ready and prepared both in body and soul, to serve the will of God, which that every one of us may be prepared to do it, let us learn thus to pray, and let the manner of our prayer inform us of our duty. Neither is it possible for a just man to want his daily bread, since it is written, That the Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish (Prov 10.3). And again, I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (Ps 37.25). And the Lord hath given us a gracious promise in these words. Take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt 6.31-33).
He does hereby promise, that those who seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness shall have all other things added; for since all things are God’s, he shall want nothing who is not without God. Thus when Daniel was cast into the Lions Den by the King’s command, God provided him food, and the man of God is fed even amongst hungry and devouring lions. And Elijah in his retirement and solitude during the time of persecution was fed by ravens. And oh the abominable wickedness and cruelty of man’s heart, that even the wild beasts should be tame to spare, and the birds to feed the prophets; but mankind only becomes ravenous and savage.”
St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage and Martyr in The Unity of the Church and Expediency of Forms of Prayer illustrated in Two Treatises (London: Franklin and Bettenham, 1719) 59-61.