“Two things I ask of you, O 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.
Most of this prayer makes sense to everyone. Keep me from falsehood and lies, check. Keep me from poverty, check. Keep me from riches …wait, what?
Talk about your contrarian prayer. Who prays for God to limit his riches? I mean, Biggie famously rapped “Mo money, mo problems,” but that didn’t stop him from grabbing as much cash as he could. Then again, that didn’t turn out so well for him.
As an American, I want the American dream of wealth and prosperity. As a Christian I am content with what I have and (hopefully) generous in sharing my wealth with those in need. As an American Christian I want more so I can give more! (Yeah, right. More like “I want more so I can give the same percentage and take home more to play with.)
To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’m at the point where I can pray this Proverb with all my heart. The thirst to prosper and achieve and save and accumulate wealth is very, very ingrained into my being. I work as a financial analyst and I can tell you there are no financial principles that tell you to strive for less than maximum wealth.
On the other hand, I understand (in theory) the message behind this Proverb. “Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’” That statement seems extreme but I can see it happening to some. Riches can deceive a person into thinking they lack nothing and need no one. Or said another way, “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim 6:10)
So Lord give me your desires and not my own. Make me content with what I have and keep me from becoming too rich or too poor. I’ll leave it up to you what those dollar figures are.