Praying for Less Money?

“Lord, please help me get this raise.” “Dear God, help my business to succeed.” “God, I really need this deal to go through,
please give me wisdom.” “Lord, if you’ll
only let me win the lottery – I’ll give half of the money to the church!”

I’m sure God is barraged with prayers of this sort on a
daily basis, and while the attempted synergy between capitalism and
spirituality is impressive, I think there is another prayer he would be more
pleased to hear.

And I doubt he hears it very often.

It was first uttered by a wise man named Agur (don’t worry;
I don’t know anything about him either, except that he contributed to the book
of Proverbs). Here’s the prayer:

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I
die. First help me never to tell a
lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor
riches! For if I grow rich, I may deny
you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus
insult God’s holy name.” (Proverbs
30:7-9, NLT)

Wow. I’m not sure if
I could pray that prayer honestly. After
all the books on investing and wealth-building I’ve read, could I really ask
God to keep me firmly entrenched in the middle-class?

Money has a way of revealing the truth about our hearts, and
Agur’s concern was that if he had too much success, he’d lose his feeling of
dependence upon God. His faith might
actually weaken if he got everything he ever wanted. He understood that his relationship with God
was more valuable than any possession or sense of security money could buy.

The flip side: does God want you to succeed? Much of the book of Proverbs is a success
manual; how to build wealth, how to impress higher-ups, how to prioritize. If you follow God’s wisdom in business and in
life, you’ll most likely find success at one time or another. But Agur’s prayer is positioned at the
tail-end of Proverbs on purpose.

It’s almost like God is saying through this book: “Go work
hard. Build your life, your family, and
your dreams. But don’t forget what is
most important.

I have a wealthy friend who is a great example of the
Proverbs come to life. He started out
"poor", and through creativity and hard work, built his own business over
the years. Today, he’s in his forties,
has a residual income of over 70k a month, and lives below his means. He has a nice life, don’t get me wrong, but
his priority is clearly spiritual things. He’s one of the biggest givers I know.

He's a rare find. Most people, regardless of their income
level, are always thirsty for more. They
incur unwise debts (against the advice of Proverbs), seek to get rich quick
(against the advice of Proverbs) and care more about personal security than
they do about generosity (against the advice of Proverbs). Jesus even said that it is “harder for a
camel to go through the eye of a needle” than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. That’s because money can be a major distraction from what’s truly
valuable in life.

So, are you ready to pray for less money?  Or, are you ready to ask God to give you the
maturity and perspective you’ll need to handle either poverty or riches? To be hard-working and generous, no matter
what your balance sheet says?

Agur has given us all something to think about.

Dan originally wrote this article for publication in the Marco Island Sun Times.


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