Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve spoken to many people who are worried about money. High inflation means that everything costs more, and most people aren’t making any more money than they were a year ago. Most people’s investments have lost ground this year, meaning that even people who felt financially secure are now feeling like they’re on shakier ground.
How do we navigate financial worries in a God-honoring way? How should we pray when we’re worried about not having enough?
The Lord’s Prayer offers us some guidance. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He told them to ask God for their daily bread. When you think about it, though, that’s a very specific and limited prayer. To be honest, I sometimes wish that God would go ahead and provide not only my daily bread, but also enough money and resources to last for the rest of my life! It would put my mind at ease if I knew that I wouldn’t ever have to worry about money again.
But that’s not normally how God works, is it?
If you’re like me, even opening your bank account to check the balance can be a stress-inducing experience. What if there’s less there than I expect? What if there isn’t even enough to pay my bills? Sometimes my heart begins to race and my palms begin to sweat before I look at my bank balance.
For that reason, I’ve tried to develop a habit of praying immediately before I log into my bank account or open a bill that just arrived in the mail.
There are three things I pray in that moment:
First, I thank God for what He has given me. I’m alive. I have eternal life through Jesus. And for the moment, God has given me food, shelter, clothing, and reasonably good health. He would still be good even if I had none of those things, but thanking Him for them reminds me that He is my Provider. Even if I have less than I want, God has provided what I need. Gratitude is one of the best antidotes to anxiety, because when I remember that God has provided for me today, I’m more inclined to trust Him for tomorrow.
Second, I ask God for His peace, no matter what number shows up in my bank account. I remind myself of Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” If I can center my thoughts on the fact that God is the Creator and the Sustainer of the entire Universe, then that will help me trust Him with my finances. When I bring my fears about money directly to Him, I can trust that His Spirit will offer me the “peace that passes understanding.” That peace doesn’t come from how much money I have or don’t have, but instead from the fact that I worship a God who is always in control. Regardless of my circumstance, I know that my future is bright because of Jesus. Remembering that reality allows me to put my financial concerns in perspective; they are fleeting when I consider them in light of eternity.
Third, I return to Christ’s simple prayer: “Give me this day my daily bread.” That prayer reminds me that I don’t need enough money to last for the next 50 years, or 10 years, or even the next month. I only need enough for today. I think Jesus knew our tendency to accumulate more than we really need. We’re all tempted to trust in our riches rather than in our Savior. That’s why He told the parable of the rich man who planned to tear down his barns and build bigger ones, in order to store all of his riches. That man was seeking security through material prosperity. But he forgot the central reality that we will all eventually die, and our earthly wealth won’t amount to anything when that day comes. What will matter is whether we’ve invested in what is eternal: God’s Word, God’s people, and a deeper relationship with Him. As long as we have enough for today, we have the energy to pursue things that will last forever.
If money never stresses you out, it might seem like a silly exercise to pray before you log in into the bank. For me, however, it serves as a reminder that no matter what numbers I see there, I can trust that God cares about me and He can provide everything I need. Praying reminds me that there are values that are more important than my net worth, and there are riches that will last much longer than anything I could accumulate in this life.