"Prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest"
Prepares is the Hebrew word kun which means at its root to bring something into being with the result that its existence is a certainty. Clearly the idea here is that the ant should be studied because it collects its resources over the summertime and then has the provisions to exist when there is not provision.
Notice that we are to study this process and realize that we must work hard at bringing into existence that which does not now exist, so that it will be there when we need it. This would refer to financial resources as well as skill development, information, and relationships.
Many times – especially in this culture – we want things instantly with no preparation on their parts, but all the above take time and skill to collect and or make. If we continue with the instant orientation of the culture around us, we become completely dependent upon others and will never get ahead or be really able to see a growing pile of resources from which to demonstrate generosity and enjoy stability.
This series of proverbs is directed at the sluggard who dreams and craves and lusts after things that they have no inclination to work for. This is what defines a person who is a sluggard. The biblical answer for laziness is hard work with the payoff at the end of the hard work. Understand that laziness and procrastination is a temptation. It is subtle, but it will slowly rob you of your potential and dreams. There are things that you must do this day and this week and this season of your life to be in the place you need to be later. If you do not put in the work now, it will be lost later.
When one of our daughters was young, we were forcing her to memorize her math facts: addition and subtraction. Were we cruel and inhuman because we made her go over and over it every day? No. We love her and were preparing her for achievement later. Our oldest daughter was forced to practice piano because she wanted to be able to play piano someday. If we never had her practice, then she would never develop that skill and be able to enjoy the piano. The same is true of life. I have forced myself to set aside part of my paycheck into a pension fund even though we could really use the money now. There are times to go to school even when you would rather be doing something else. There are times to save money when you would rather spend it. There are times when you have to learn a new skill so you will not be passed over for promotion later. There are times when you need to start a new friendship so that relationship will be available later.
I regularly hear people who are bored with the sameness of their lives. This means that there is some missing preparation of "food" in their lives. Look at what potential God has given you and focus on maximizing it. Put in the time now to hone, to collect, to prepare, and to develop what will be needed then.