Proverbs 30:7-8 (NLT)
O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
This is the only prayer in the Book of Proverbs, and it was written by Agur, son of Jakeh – a simple, God-fearing man who had a firm grasp on his fallen state as well as God’s grandeur (verses 1-6). Unlike our tendency to insert plenty of me-centered requests into our prayers, Agur’s prayer is actually entirely God-centered. He is humbly requesting – begging – that God help him stay pure of heart and to avoid the snares of extreme wealth as well as extreme poverty. Agur was pursuing what God wanted of him, rather than what he wanted from God.
First of all, Agur wanted to be a man of truth and integrity. He was obviously well acquainted with God’s character and most likely heard many of Solomon’s teachings on lying (Pr. 6, 12, 13, 19, 21, 24, 26) and accepted them as true. He certainly knew of King David’s great deception with regards to Bathsheeba, Solomon’s mother, as well as the stories of men like Achan and Jacob. Agur took God’s Word on the subject seriously and determined to be free of deceit, but he knew he could only do that through God’s power and for God’s glory. Do you take lying that seriously? I’m sad to say that I certainly don’t.
Secondly, a rather uncommon request, to say the least. When was the last time you asked for just enough to get by? We utter this request every time we repeat the Lord’s prayer, and Jesus’ life was the perfect example of receiving one’s “daily bread,” but do any of us think this way? Do we live this way? Most likely not. This proverb is not making a statement about wealth or poverty in and of themselves…this is about a man’s desire to keep himself in line with his Creator. Agur seemingly understood his own nature and tendencies. In poverty, perhaps he feared he would steal or resent God. In wealth, he might become prideful and feel like he no longer had need of God. Either way, his focus was not on his belly or bank account…it was on his LORD.
Most of us know our weaknesses. We know where we struggle with sin…with deceit, envy, greed, or covetousness. May our prayers reflect a desire – like Agur had – to draw nearer to God in holiness and intimacy, rather than just our usual To-Do List for the Lover of our Souls.