In my recent conversations about racial injustice, I have encountered some Christians who fit into one of two categories: either they don’t know some truth of God’s Word and need to be educated, or they know the Bible well but find it difficult to connect and apply it to their...
Proverbs 30:7-9 presents a way to pray for your financial state. It says,
Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
It might sound difficult to pray for a seemingly mediocre life, to have nothing more and nothing less than your needs met by God. But if your heart cares most about God’s glory, and being on middle ground prevents you from the temptation to profane it, then perhaps it’s best to make this request, leaving your wealth in God’s hands.
Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches.
You don’t want to get to the point of having so much that you forget God and your need for him, denying him because your hands and belly are full. On the contrary, you don’t want to get to the point of desperation where you steal and profane his name, trying to gain things you need apart from his help.
Now, if you live in the Western world, you most likely aren’t poor. The poor live on less than $2 a day, and only 2% of people in the U.S. fit into this category. On a global scale, most Americans make up either the upper-middle income or high income. And many Americans who are classified as “poor” by the U.S. government would be middle income globally (Pew Research Center). The world calls you rich.
Consequently, the possession of Western comforts tends to tempt Christians in two ways.
Two Possible Temptations for the Comfortable
Because you possess western comforts, Satan tempts you with guilt. You know the statistics. You see the faces of the children in your Compassion International letters. You’ve been to places in Africa or India, helping treat diseases, assisting the reconstruction of a home, digging wells for clean water, and seeing children beg. You’ve felt the dirt, smelled the stink, heard the cries.
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With guilt you drink Dasani water, sitting on your couch, eating takeout, with a bowl of ice cream to follow. You give away old clothes, hoping to provide for someone who needs them more than you. You sponsor children in developing countries, longing for their health and a smile. Guilt remains.
I have too much.
Because you possess Western comforts, Satan tempts you with thanklessness. You forget about the rest of the world. You’re used to the clothes in your closet. You easily acquire a new piece of clothing if needed or wanted. When hungry, you open the fridge and make a choice. You wake up in a comfortable bed, get the house cleaned, run your errands, pay every bill—all with little or no gratitude.
You do whatever you please with all that you have—perhaps wanting more. Gratitude disappears.
I have, but I want more.
Fight Temptation with Prayer
Christians in the Western world who pray Proverbs 30:7-9 wholeheartedly will see the powerful temptation of guilt and thanklessness decrease. Why?
Your petition for God to keep you from poverty and hold back riches lies before him (1 John 5:14-15). He hears you, and he will do according to his will, as he promises.
[Tweet “Consider yourself rich, you who have Christ, and don’t waste your comforts.”]
Your heart will no longer be discontent with too much, wishing for more. Likewise, your heart will no longer be discontent with not having enough. You don’t have to feel guilty, either, because you know his provision is not based on your deserving, but on his desire to give.
You’re asking not to be hungry, yet not full either. You want the middle ground—enough.
And since you know it’s God—the Ultimate Giver—who chooses to give whatever he pleases to you, you trust that whatever you have comes from his will.
Seek God’s Glory
You may pray for just enough, but find God answers your prayer in a different way. You ask him to keep you from poverty, but you struggle to pay the bills or to feed your family. Close to the poverty line, you sit.
Lord, let me not steal and profane the name of my God, as I experience need.
Or you may pray for just enough, but God continues to bless you with more than you need. Much more than necessities, you have the opportunity to acquire.
Lord, as you’ve filled me, let me not deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Whether you claim poverty, live close to it, have enough money, or an overabundance, seek to glorify God’s name and to acknowledge him. The most significant aspect of a prayer like this one in Proverbs lies not in what’s given to you—or not—but in how your heart responds to the giving of the Giver.
Will you profane his name? Will you deny him?
Or will you seek him in your need, and thank him in your abundance?
Perhaps we should pray, “Lord, ‘feed me with the food that is needful for me’ (Proverbs 30:8). Whatever it is that you give, may my heart respond in a way that is pleasing to you. May I bring glory to your name.”
Deploy Your Gifts
Through prayer, flee the temptation to want more or less of the comforts God gives you, that such desire may not cause you to sin. Pray that he gives you neither poverty nor riches, but ask for all your needs to be met.
Instead, use and deploy what you have to his glory. Seek to honor and glorify God with a heart of contentment and praise for what he has given.
God sovereignly gives to each person what he desires (Matthew 20:1-16). Consider what you have. How can you use what comforts he’s given you—whether little or abundant—to the praise and glory of his name? Perhaps you can open your home, provide meals or clothing to others, give rides to someone without a car, or share the gospel with those you meet.
Consider yourself rich, you who have Christ, and don’t waste your comforts. Do not only impart goods to the poor, or anyone in need, but give the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord—the most necessary possession made available to all mankind.