The Bible encourages us to pray for prosperity.
No, not the modern “health and wealth gospel” prayers for prosperity. Those appeals have one fatal flaw: they’re selfishly hoping for the prosperity of the person praying.
There’s a different prosperity gospel which we should be praying for:
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
(Psalm 51:18–19, NIV)
What’s the difference with this prosperity prayer? It’s asking for the glory and delight of the Lord.
When God prospers people who are no longer living for their own selfish desires but are living for his will, the result is the furtherance of his kingdom purposes on earth, which results in his glory.
Give wisdom to a man living for God’s kingdom and he’ll use that wisdom to advance God’s kingdom. Give influence to a woman living for God’s kingdom and she’ll use that influence to advance the name of Christ. Give popularity to a teen living for God’s kingdom and they’ll use that popularity to share the Good News with their peers.
Give money to a family living for God’s kingdom and they’ll look for ways to invest that money in eternal causes. Give property to a group living God’s kingdom and they’ll use those facilities for hospitality, love, and ministry.
In this Psalm, David shows us why and how to pray for prosperity - not for our glory, but for the glory of our God.
But there’s more.
When people are blessed by the Lord, they turn to him in humble, sacrificial worship. In moments when we are coherently aware of God’s forgiveness and gratefully aware of his undeserved blessing, we willingly offer to him what we would have once held to tightly.
God delights in the sacrifices of his people because when they are worshiping him in this way, they are doing the thing for which they were created. When we’ve quit looking for satisfaction in the created world and begin to find our satisfaction in the Lord, then we’re willing to hold loosely to the things that once held us.
So is it right to pray for prosperity? It is and you should. Not for the sake of your kingdom, but for the success of his. Not for the sake of your delight, but for his.
When God flourishes people who are living for him, they use that blessing to serve him all the more.
For this he gets glory and in this he finds great delight.
Paul David Tripp
- What's currently on your “blessing wish list” - that is, how are you asking God to prosper you right now?
- Look at your list. Are there ways in which your desires for potentially good things are at risk of turning into bad things because they have becoming ruling things in your heart?
- List the blessings that God has currently entrusted to your care.
- How tightly are you holding on to these blessings, for personal gain? How can you hold on to them more loosely and be a generous steward?
- How can you adjust your “blessing wish list” and pray for prosperity with God-honoring intentions?