The Prayer of Agur

You’ve heard of the prayer of Jabez. But do you know about the prayer of Agur? While Jabez prayed for enlarged borders and the gracious hand of God on his life (1 Chron. 4:9-10), Agur, a little-known contributor to the book of Proverbs, prayed for something much different but equally powerful.

Three thousand years ago the gods of materialism and consumerism raged as wildly as they do today, reaping real and tangible havoc in people’s lives. Agur understood this threat to his own life and sought remedy at the throne of the Almighty.

Read his ancient prayer slowly and carefully, and then read it again and again until it sinks into your soul,

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 (Proverbs 30:7-9).

Agur voices a prayer that contains merely sixty-five words that fly in the face of our consumer-driven, American lifestyle. Understanding the danger of living an extreme life, the son of Jakeh makes a divine request not often heard today: “Give me neither poverty nor riches.”

Agur’s words ring with rare contentment and a desire for a middle class life. For sure, he’d rather not stand in a soup line at the local mission. But nor does he desire soup de jour. Instead, he is strangely satisfied with chicken noodle from a can.

Agur feared becoming less dependant on God. The good things in life might cause him to drift away and put his trust in riches. And so he drew a financial line in the sand and said, “Enough is enough!” He also feared not having enough and then questioning God’s goodness, resorting to thievery just to feed his family. His concerns reflect the heart of a true worshipper. What about you?

The powerful lure of our materialistic culture makes it difficult for us to live sensible financial lives. By drinking deeply from the fountain of consumerism, we run the risk of drowning out Agur’s voice of godly wisdom and reason. Every day, advertisers entice us to spend, trade up, and buy more than we can afford, while seducing our hearts to serve Mammon not God (Matt. 6:24).

Agur wanted truth in advertising. “Keep falsehood and lies far from me,” he begged God who holds the title and deed to all the earth (Ps. 24:1). Is it possible that you’ve based your financial life on falsehoods spewing forth from our Madison Avenue culture?

Recently I came across a common financial falsehood. After making a bank deposit, I read these words on the back of my transaction receipt: “Let us help you realize your dreams!” I have dreams. So do you. When somebody offers to help me reach my dreams, I, perhaps like you, lean forward. So you can imagine my disappointment when I kept reading:

• Home Equity Loans
• Personalized Line of Credit
• Personal Loans
• Credit Cards
• Education Loans

The message from this financial institution was clear: the way to realize your dreams is to borrow more money. Okay, is this true or false? The answer is clearly false! Debt might appear to be your friend for a while and a short cut to reaching your life goals, but in the end it can enslave you and shatter your dreams (Prov. 22:7).

A True or False Quiz

Perhaps a true or false quiz will help drive the point home. Take a few minutes to answer the following questions and then ask yourself, “Am I living my life and managing my finances based on truth or error?”

1. Debt is a tool that can help me realize my dreams. T F
2. Keeping up with the Joneses puts me ahead in life. T F
3. The next purchase I make will yield me true satisfaction. T F
4. I buy, therefore I am. T F
5. Buy now, pay later is a good financial strategy. T F
6. Material prosperity is always a sign of God’s favor. T F
7. The main thing is bling, bling! T F

If you marked all seven of the questions false, you get an A+ on your quiz. Can you identify other financial falsehoods in our culture?

I like this guy, Agur. He’s my new friend. He can be yours too. Though he’s dead, he still speaks. My hope is that God’s message through him might give birth to a new breed of Christ followers that rise like a Phoenix from the ash heap of materialism and find contentment in the consumer age.