“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
It seems like an awfully weird thing to pray for – that God would not give us too much.
In a world where the word “abundance” is on every Christian t-shirt, and where the “prosperity gospel” runs rampant, it would appear that the idea of too much is not really on our radars as a whole.
But perhaps it should be.
I can tell you from my own prayer life in the past that my requests used to sound like “God, I pray for tons of extra money so I can give it all away.” Those prayers certainly felt like they were backed by good intentions, but looking through the Bible now, I’m not sure that we ever really see this type of prayer modeled or advised.
Think about back to 1 Kings 3, the famous interaction between God and King Solomon.
God says, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon replies, “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”
Solomon was already a very wealthy man, but he seems to understand that more for the sake of more is not always better.
God is delighted with Solomon’s request, saying “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both wealth and honor – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings…”
Absolutely nothing about this exchange should encourage us to place wealth as our top prayer priority. Likewise, it’s a dangerous things to use this exchange as fuel for promoting the prosperity gospel as well.
This is just one example of course, but it seems so set a wonderful example of the type of heart we ought to bring to the table when praying to the Lord. Going back to where we started in the book of Proverbs, the first three chapters are entirely devoted to the worthwhile pursuit of wisdom over all else.
In Proverbs 30 above, Agur, the author, prays for 2 things:
1. That God would keep falsehood and lies far from him.
2. That God would not give him too much nor too little, but only his daily bread.
We’re focusing on the second request, but it’s worth noting here how powerful his first request is and what that means for us today. What would our world look like if we all prayed and defended against falsehood, lies, gossip, and talking behind each others’ backs?
We’ve touched on Agur’s second request, specifically the “too much” side of things. The “too little” side works very similarly, and both are rooted in the same core issue.
When we hoard the gifts God has given us, it’s all too easy to feel like we have everything we need and that we no longer need God Himself. When we struggle with having our basic needs met, it’s all too easy to take matters into our own hands and disregard God’s laws and plans in order to find food and shelter. In both scenarios, our actions and attitudes toward God are rooted in arrogance, in self-sufficiency.
The alternative is wonderful, and God invites us into His sufficiency throughout the course of scripture.
The alternative is asking Him for our daily bread, and relying on and resting in His provision. When we come to God in this manner, He will give us everything we need – not anything more that we would disown Him, and not anything less that we Him on that basis either.
This story is bigger than just God’s sufficiency in His provision.
In fact, this story is actually about God Himself being sufficient for us.
When we feel inadequate, He is sufficient.
When we feel unequipped, He is sufficient.
When we feel alone or afraid, He is sufficient.
When we have any need of any kind and any size, He is sufficient.
The more we come to recognize God’s sufficiency, the more we will also be able to rely on and rest in His sufficiency. We will begin to appreciate, cherish, and share the goodness and fullness of His sufficiency.
– Do you struggle more with feeling that you have too much, or that you have too little? Does your struggle change between material and spiritual matters?
– What does asking for your daily bread look like in your life right now?
– How do your prayers reflect this concept of daily bread? What needs to change in your heart and mind in order to better align yourself to wanting God’s exact provision?