In Proverbs 30, we find one of my favorite prayers in the Bible. They are the words of Agur.
I appreciate these words because of the honesty and humility. We live in a culture where we love to take God’s word out of context and use it for our personal gain and prosperity, like many did with “The Prayer of Jabez,” marketed to the Christian culture as a prayer we can use as a type of incantation to cause God to bless us with more than we have. In contrast, the prayer of Agur is humble and trusting in the Lord to provide what He determines we need and not what we declare we need. It is a prayer that corrects our hearts when we are, in sin, feeling like we deserve more than we have. It is a prayer that honestly asks God for the basic needs of daily life but also asks not to be given abundance so that one’s heart can remain dependent on the Lord alone for joy and strength. I pray that today’s deeper look at this prayer brings a healthy reminder and maturity to your heart and desires. I pray that you, too, would be trusting in God and content for what He provides you in His perfect wisdom and will.
Let’s dig in.
Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
The first thing Agur asks God for is TRUTH! He wants to be fixed on truth and not lies. This is a global removal he is asking for. “Remove any lies that I have believed along the way and therefore would speak to others, and remove from me the influence of deceit and lies from others.” We live in a world that is built on sinful deceit and lies of the enemy. Our sin will lie to get what it wants. The best and nicest person you know will lie because of his sin to get what he wants.
Oh, how desperate we are for truth--truth that brings light instead of darkness. We need truth that honors God and causes us to be honorable before Him. Earlier in this Proverb, he said, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5). In a world of lies and deceit, the truth of God’s word is truly a saving grace and solid foundation for our feet. God is truth. Jesus said, “I am … the truth” (John 14:6). Also, John 18:37 says Jesus came “to bear witness to the truth.”
Do you hold fast to the word of God like nothing else in order not to get swept away in lies and deceit?
He is the only pure and trustworthy source of truth. May we be utterly dependent and fixed to His written word.
Second, Agur asks for neither poverty nor riches. I believe this prayer is included in the Proverbs because this request is incredibly wise and humble. We quickly resonate with his request not to be in poverty, as our flesh might rear up and sinfully curse God or disobey Him by stealing from others to fill our bellies. This is a real request for the basic needs of our daily life. I think we can be guilty of thinking we need more than we really do. In modern western life, we can be found often saying, “I am starving,” because we are really hungry. But we have no idea what hunger is or what starving really is because we are late to eat our next meal. Let us who have much be careful of not declaring that we are in jeopardy of poverty when we are very far from it.
It is the other end of the spectrum of Agur’s request that strikes me the most. He says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’” (Proverbs 30:8).
Agur is mindful that his sin and selfishness can cause him to become fat and happy with the provisions of his abundance, and he would not think he has a need for God and say, “Who is the Lord?” This is related to the teaching of Christ in the New Testament, when He says it is hard for a rich man to inherit the kingdom of God, because he doesn’t think he needs it; the man has all that he wants in his wealth and abundance. Many in our society, including us at times in our own lives, can get caught up in being so fat and happy with life and all that we have that we lose our desperation for the Lord. With it, we lose our passionate cry to Him for all that He is and is doing in our lives despite ourselves.
For years, I have been greatly inspired by Agur’s prayer here for only what he needed and nothing more. We all can get quickly caught up in thinking we need more to be happy, safe, and secure, but we do not. Christ is enough. God is the best One to decide what to entrust to us to steward for His purposes for our lives. For some that will be much, and for others that will be little. Both are equally blessed because they have Christ, but they are just entrusted with different means and abilities with which to serve God.
The point is, we do not need more to be satisfied; we need Jesus. We need what God best determines we need.
Agur got this and simply says, “Give me what I need daily and nothing more, so I can serve you and keep my eyes on you as my prize and my Lord.” May we join Agur in this prayer for the perfect will and provision of God and trust in the Lord as He determines what we should have and be able to do. We serve a good God who is worthy of our praise simply because of who He is and what He has done in Christ to save us and make us His. He owes me nothing. I owe Him everything. May He be praised by me every day He ordains to give me breath.
*For those of you riding to Colorado this week, I am very excited for all that the Lord will do in and through us there. Ride smart and if God wills, I will see you on the mountain.