Prayer of the Wise

 If God were to ask you what you want him to give you, what would you tell him? The Bible tells us that Solomon asked for wisdom and his prayer was answered. (1 Kings 3) Aside from Solomon, I think that there is another person who asked wisely of the Lord. His name is Agur. He wrote Proverbs 30. (Some background info on the Words of Agur in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/proverbs-the-book-of.html).

We often like to read lists – 10 things for this, 20 things for that. Proverbs 30 has 6 lists:

1) 7-9; (things to ask of the Lord – wish list )

2) 15-16; (things that are never satisfied – bottomless?!)

3) 18-19; (amazing things too hard to understand – mind-baffling)

4) 21-23; (things that made the earth tremble – scary things…)

5) 24-28; (small things but extremely wise – small but terrible)

6) 29-31 (stately beings in stately stride – high and mighty)

How often our wish list is long – we ask for so many trivial things from God we missed the important things.

 Proverbs 30:7 “Two things I ask of you, Lord;  do not refuse me before I die:

Agur only asked two things. Take note that he also asked God to grant him his request ‘before’ he dies (v.7). Implication: This is wise because it means that he needs these things while he lives. His prayer is about living life.

Proverbs 30:8a Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 

First, to ask God to keep him away from falsehood and lies is like Jesus’ prayer: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. It is to live a life of integrity. Integrity comes from the Latin word integer which means wholeness. Stephen Carter points out,

“A person of integrity, like a whole number, is a whole person, a person undivided. Integrity conveys… completeness and the serenity of a person who is confident in the knowledge that he or she is living rightly.”     .

Proverbs 30:8b give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

Second, Give me only my daily bread. Again part of the Lord’s prayer. Implication: Give me just enough. It implies contentment. Lord, please help me to stay away from greed. It also means dependence on the Lord for provision – to be not in poverty.

Proverbs 30:9 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.

The rational for asking this: Too much wealth leads to pride. Too much poverty leads to shame. Both dishonour God. Implication: How often do we forget God when all is well and we are enjoying abundance. We become self-sufficient and proud; we forget that all blessings come from God. On the other hand, poverty or hardship cause us to dishonour God when we try to find our own way as well. Riches and poverty both lead us to falsehood and lies – not acknowledging God and forgetting to depend on God.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me to live a life of integrity – depending on you for my daily needs – one day at a time. Keep me from greed but grant me a contented heart. Thank you that you’ve given me neither poverty nor riches that might dishonour you. Amen.

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