[This is a guest post from Andrea at So Over Debt about trying to pray for money. Visit her site or follow her on Twitter to read more about her journey toward a better financial future.]
A popular joke tells us about a man whose neighborhood is flooding. The man climbs on his roof and prays that God will save him from the rising waters. Rescue crews come in boats and a helicopter to help, but the man is adamant that he has faith in God’s ability to save him.
The man eventually drowns, and when he arrives in heaven, he questions St. Peter about why God didn’t answer his prayer. Peter responds, “He sent you three boats and a helicopter – what more do you want?”
Does God Want Us To Pray For Money?
The Prayer Rug
Last week I received a strange letter in the mail. It contained a “prayer rug” that I’m supposed to kneel on while asking God to bless me financially, then return to the church. Oh, and I’m also supposed to send the church a donation to enable other people to receive prayer rugs. Now, I’m very supportive of diverse religious beliefs, and I would never dismiss another person’s faith just because it’s different from my own.
But seriously? A piece of paper is going to bring me untold riches, especially if I send money to a church that I’m not even sure is an actual church? Along with the prayer rug, I also received a pamphlet with testimonials from satisfied
customers prayer rug recipients. Apparently one lady received $46,000 and paid off all her debts. Another person was able to buy 17 acres of land.
The pamphlet quotes Deuteronomy 28:6, “Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.” I have to admit, I was kind of tempted to kneel on the prayer rug and ask for money, just to see if it worked. But then I felt like I’d be struck by lightning for treating God like a piggy bank. As I considered this odd letter, though, I realized that some people treat God and prayer that way all the time, only without a paper rug to kneel on.
The Purpose of Prayer
I’m not saying it’s horrible to pray for God’s help. We are all familiar with the apostle Paul’s advice to “pray without ceasing.” But some may be less familiar with Romans 8:26, where Paul states “We do not know how to pray as we should.” For many, prayer has become a self-centered list of all the things we want God to give us, like He’s some kind of genie or divine ATM.
Instead of being thankful for the blessing in our lives and praying for others, sometimes we have a wishlist that would rival a child’s letter to Santa! [Learn what the bible says about being content in all situations]
In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches us how to pray:
- (6:9) We should give honor to God.
- (6:10) We should pray for God’s will to be done in our lives.
- (6:11) We should pray for our daily needs to be met.
- (6:12) We should ask for forgiveness for our sins, and forgiveness for the sins of others.
- (6:13) We should ask God to keep us from being tempted.
Now where does Jesus tell us to ask for money? Some would argue that verse 6:11 makes it okay; after all, we can’t meet our daily needs for food, shelter, and clothing without a way to pay for it. And I would say that it is perfectly okay to pray for help if you are going without things like food – this post isn’t directed toward those with major needs.
In my own life right now, I am fortunate to be able to meet my needs. The Lord has provided me with a job – not one that I love, but one that pays the bills. My son and I are healthy. I have money in savings in case something goes wrong. So if I prayed for money right now, what exactly would I use it for? To pay off my debt? That would be great, but I’m paying off my debt (slowly) already, and going into debt was a choice. To buy more stuff? That doesn’t really fit in the “needs” category. In my opinion, it would be a slap in God’s face to ask for more when I have so much.
Pray For Money: Why Ask for Something You Already Have?
In the beginning of this post, I mentioned a joke about a man who was so busy looking for God’s help, he missed the help God was trying to send him. Praying for money works the same way. I know what it’s like to wonder how to afford groceries after the bills are paid. I remember the days when I begged the power company not to turn off my electricity before I got paid on Friday. And I know how miserable it is to live that way.
However, I never once starved or went without. Why? Because I already had enough money to do the things I needed to do, and when pushed, I could find ways to access it by giving up non-necessities. God already gave me the skills and knowledge to get a job, as well as a paycheck every two weeks. Is it God’s fault that I was spending money on stuff I didn’t need? Nope.
When I had financial problems, I prayed constantly for something to change. At times, I became frustrated because it seemed God wasn’t answering me. But now I realize He gave me the answers before I even asked – I just had to look within myself to find them.
When I got serious about getting out of debt, I was already blessed in many ways before anything even happened. I was smart enough to figure out what got me into my financial mess in the first place. I was fortunate enough to have help from my parents. I was able to afford internet access, which allowed me to read personal finance blogs and devise a plan.
When I figured out I needed more income and was actually willing to do something about it, I was able to find a second job relatively quickly. [Find out how to honor God in the workplace] Things like this were God’s answers to my prayers.
Back to Prayer
I’m not here to judge other people. I’m the first to admit that I haven’t always used prayer the way I should, especially where money is concerned. And I have no way to know who will read this and what your situation is. However, I can guess that you may be here reading Faithful With A Few because you are dealing with your finances in some way.
If you are going through a tough time, lean on God and your family until things get better. Try praying the way the Bible says we should – from our hearts, not from our empty wallets – and keep praying. I can almost guarantee you will never wake up to find a pile of money on your porch, but I know God has a plan in place to correct your money issues. He doesn’t need to send you a prayer rug or anything else! You have all the tools you need; just pray for the wisdom to use them in a way that honors God and improves your quality of life.
photo by Ambro