Monday, April 22, 2013

The Prayer of Agur

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.  Proverbs 30:7-9  (ESV)

We have been going through a sermon series on one of the all-time best-selling books in any category: The Prayer of Jabez.”  It has been a writing phenomenon as it has sold by the millions. With its popularity the critics have come out to suggest the book (not the prayer) is suspect to “prosperity gospel preaching.”  Needless to say, author Bruce Wilkinson has upset a lot of people and probably even made a few jealous.  Let me say here … I like the book “The Prayer of Jabez” as it has challenged me in many aspects of my prayer life and ministry.

In Proverbs, there is another prayer, not of Jabez, but of Agur - “The Prayer of Agur” (aw-goor).  It too challenges our lives and relationship with the Lord.  Like Jabez, Agur is not noted for his familiarity in the scriptures.  He is mentioned only once in Proverbs 30.

·   “Agur” means to gather or to harvest.  He speaks to God ... " deny them not to me before I die " as if to show he is an old man hoping to see the harvest of his life.  Having walked many roads and taken the many paths life brings, he offers his hearers the wisdom he has gathered.

Though we know so little about Agur, his prayer says so much; so much about how we should pray and so much on how we don’t pray:
1.    Remove … from me falsehood and lying
2.    Do not give me … poverty or riches

Agur was doing some tough praying.  Our prayers might be more in line with the Greek Philosopher, Plato who suggests we pray.  "Give us those things which are best, whether we pray for them or not; but command evil things to remain at a distance from us, even though we implore them."

Even though I have never heard of him before writing this devotional, this makes me think very highly of Agur.  He has the God of the Universe on the line and what does he ask for?  He asks for Him to remove all falsehood and lies and not too give him poverty or riches?  I can see asking Him to not give poverty but when it comes to asking or not asking for riches, I think I might be more selfish than that.  It is so tempting to voice mindless petty prayers to God asking for more, more, and more.  To pray against riches goes against everything that bombards us in the media.  We are selfish people; but Agur’s heart was right.  He asked for the right things.  He knew that if he had riches, he might turn away from God and he did not want to take a chance.  Lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?"

What would we say about the falsehood around us and in us, as well as our use or need of money?  Has God arrived so as to rule and control these elements of our lives or are they consuming and devouring us?  This week we will look at these two important requests of Agur. 

Scripture to Claim:
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Psalm 51:6  

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