Does God want us to be poor or prosper?

There are two extreme views on money in the church. I believe both these views are wrong.

False belief: God wants us to be poor!
In the early church there were a group of people who believed that anything of a material nature was evil and anything of a spiritual nature was pure, holy, and all that mattered to God. They believed that just as Jesus had no place to sleep we should renounce the worlds goods as passing dust and focus only on God. Some took vows of poverty, lived in communes, and pursued a life without attachment to money. There are some who hold a form of these gnostic views today. Some may not be as extreme but will interpret the passage where Jesus told his disciples not to worry about their finances because God knows what they need as reason enough not to think, talk, organize, or steward them. The funny thing is that these same people have no problem relieving poverty or praying for those in extreme poverty. I call it middle class false humility and hypocrisy.

False belief: God wants us to be rich!
On the other hand, there are those who eat, sleep, drink, and live the pursuit of wealth. In fact, the attainment of finances is all they think about. They will suggest that Jesus was rich because he had a treasury that was full. Some of their proofs are that “it seems” he was able to take care of the hundred and twenty or more followers with him and their families back home, wore expensive clothes the Romans were gambling to possess, and never needed to beg – even though this thinking is warned of in scripture (1 Tim 6:10).

I believe the biblical response is to pray for prosperity. “Prosperity” like “poverty” does not specify an amount. Prosperity is a relative term that places full trust in God to do right. What does it mean to prosper? It doesn’t mean to be wealthy. It means one is praying to be “in the black” not “in the red.” We are praying for more than enough. We are actively putting our faith and trust in God as the source of everything. It is God who says that he is the one who gives us the ability to produce wealth (Deut 8:18; Prov 10:22). It is God that has prospered the Western World through the industrial age into the present. If you pray for the 1.5 Billion people in the world who live on less than $2 a day, why can’t you pray for your own prosperity if its a Biblical prayer. Who are we to assume that we have the power to keep ourself from poverty?

I can personally tell you, time after time, when I specifically ask God to prosper us, he does. It doesn’t matter what level of finances we have…he always comes through. Here’s why i believe its the most humble thing we can do.

1. God’s wants us to be prosperous.
If you read the Bible you will find that it truly is God’s desire for his people to be prosperous. The Bible has over eight hundred references to money – earning, saving, investing, spending etc. That’s more than verses on prayer, heaven, or eternity. Obviously God wants us to learn about how to rightly steward the finances that He blesses us with.

Psalm 35:27 – The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of his servant (Deut 15:10; Josh 1:8; Mal 3:10)

2. Great people of faith prayed to be prosperous.
Throughout the Bible, there are a variety of people who prayed for God to prosper them.
Jacob (Gen 28); Jabez (1 Chron 4:9); Jeremiah (Jer 29:7); Apostle John (3 John 1:2)

3. Prosperity is a prayer of holistic alignment
Any prayer for prosperity is a prayer that presupposes we are working hard, saving, giving, and investing well. We can’t pray for prosperity if we are cheating on our taxes or withholding tithe that belongs to him. Right praying and wrong living don’t mix. God wants us to pray for prosperity because it makes us examine how we are living our lives.

4. Jesus taught us to pray for prosperity.
With that in mind let us think on the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray – particularly that part – “give us this day our daily bread.” Why would Jesus teach his disciples to pray for their daily sustenance if it didn’t matter?