So, I am a couple of days behind in posting, especially since now in the L3 we moved on to the gospel of Luke. But this verse struck a very deep chord in me, and I simply have not been able to shake it. It is from Proverbs 30, verses 7-9. Click Here for a web page of a couple of different versions of it. Below is my paraphrase of it.
Lord, I’m asking for two things.
Grant these requests to me before I die:
Give me strength to tell the truth,
And keep truthfulness alone in my keeping.
Don’t make me rich nor make me poor,
Give me each day my daily bread,
Enough manna to last the day.
That I may not be full and lack nothing,
And think I got it all on my own, saying,
“Who is this God?”
Or that I may not be lacking everything,
And steal for my own existence,
Thereby profaning Your name,
the only Name worthy of worship.”
You see, this struck me because it is a radical and even a dangerous prayer. And it is one I feel God leading me to remember and continue praying.
You see, here, Agur (some random who never appears anywhere else in the Bible…) prays for the EXACT opposite of typical prayer. It starts with a petition: Grant this to me before I die. Maybe because when we die there are no do-overs. There are no “Let me go back and change that piece of myself.” We only have one life to live..and it’s not about us living it, but who we are living for. And we cannot live it on our own, that is why this man is asking God to grant this prayer…this man knows only God can grant us what this man is asking.
The first thing this man asks for is to help him to not be a liar nor have company with liars. He is asking God to convict and discipline him. And to help him choose his company very wisely. How many of us ask God for conviction? Especially about lying? We don’t even think when we tell lies, most of the time. But I think these two things go hand in hand…if we are honest, those we are with will be honest as well.
Then this is where is gets intense…this man asks to not be too poor nor too rich. The first one we have down. The second one, not so much. Especially within our Western culture. This man is literally praying to live paycheck to paycheck, while most of us are praying that will end. I’m not saying asking that is a bad thing. I know I have asked that on my behalf as well as for others. But this man’s purpose in this, as revealed in the last verses, is so that his reliance on God would increase. If our minds are taken off of bills and payments and everything…if we are just scraping by, our reliance on God increases. You know what I’m saying–you’re in a pinch, you need to make that deadline for that payment, your prayer life increases by tenfold. This man is asking to live like that–so that his prayer life is like that. So that his relationship with God would deepen because he knows God will provide everything. Furthermore, the last thing this guy wants is to be rich. He knows that he cannot serve God and money…one cannot serve two masters.
Finally, the last two phrases expand upon why this man is praying to live leaning into God alone, paycheck to paycheck. He says that he knows if he is full and lacks nothing, then he will have turned from God…thinking that it is he himself who has done these things and amassed all his wealth. But he also knows that if God left him in poverty, he would steal and disobey his God and profane his name.
From that we can learn much about this man: he knows his own sinful nature. He knows he is a liar, prideful, and a thief. How many of us have admitted to ourselves how dark our heart is without Jesus? How many shadows still remain without full surrender to Christ, dying to self, DAILY? This man also knows that, despite his own dark heart, he can go to God in prayer. He has moved past knowledge and admittance of himself and his dark heart, and ran back (like the prodigal) to his Father in Heaven. And we are to do the same.
God has challenged me to pray this prayer. What is He challenging you?