Luke 15:14 says, “And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.”
Famines were common in eastern countries. They were caused by failure of crops, untimely rain, a mild sun, and sometimes pestilence. In this story, it represents a famine of the word of God. For even though the gospel is preached, only some can partake of it, and the unregenerate man doesn’t even want it.
The prodigal son “had spent everything“. Sin removes everything good and valuable from a man. It removes the image of God, divine knowledge, holiness. Because of sin, man is in a spiritually impoverished state, naked, poor, and starving. There is no good thing in man, except that which is given to him by the grace of God. Nor does he have any inherent value that would cause the God of the universe to owe anything to him. Nor can he prepare himself for any kind of conversion or righteous act.
“He began to be in need” (v14). The sinner is in great need. An unregenerate man is need of everything good. He needs grace. Holiness. Righteousness.
For every person in the world, spiritual famine is the state in which they live. The Christian is no exception. Before Christ, we were all spiritually bankrupt, and it was only by the grace of God that we became fed once again.