Turning to Prayer During Financially Tough Times

Title: Turning to Prayer During Financially Tough Times

[Audio http://ab86qw.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pDh5VDyqQIr4fxcC2YC7GIfhg8wKOpz3xhVTwmnz73Totzld7jL6qYIWsqtmHQ1l33BECE3k8LzZwqwUchKwVWQ/3-8-09turningtoprayerduringfinanciallytoughtimes.mp3%5D

Text: Philippians 4:6-7, Matthew 6:5-13, 7:7-11

Date: March 8th, 2009

If you watch the television news or listen to the radio or read the newspapers the thing you’ll hear over and over again is how bad the economy is and how more and more people are losing their jobs or losing their homes. If you listen you hear how companies are losing money or going out of business. You’ll hear about governments trying to stimulate the economies of their nations by borrowing and then putting that money into the economy in an effort to get things working properly. Closer to home, we hear about local businesses closing or laying off workers. We see and hear people going on unemployment and looking for work. We learn of cuts in local budgets for school, police, fire services, etc. and we wonder how far all of this will go. For most people, they’ve never experienced anything like this during their lifetime. Very few people alive today have experienced the Great Depression, so this is new to almost everyone. But the economic situation keeps getting worse and worse – by modern American standards. We must not forget that for most of the world, our recession would actually be a positive economic situation, since most of the world lives at or around poverty level. Think of nations such as India and most of the countries of Africa. But for us Americans, these are difficult times simply because we’ve known only prosperity and being forced to live with a troubled economy is something we aren’t used to doing. But the question is how should a Christian respond to economically troubled times? Last week I talked about the importance of standing on the promises of God during financially troubling times. This week I’d like to talk about depending on prayer during bad economic times. Most of the time when there is nothing wrong with the economy and things are going well most people neglect prayer. It’s only normal and natural for people to put off prayer when times are good. In the Old Testament we see this pattern of neglect regularly in the history of the Jews. When things were difficult and times were hard the Jews turned to God in faith and prayer, but just as soon as God delivered them from trouble they forget about God and neglected prayer. They got over-confident in themselves and turned away from God and pursued their own will and way in life. That happens to Christians today also. For many years now things have been going relatively well for Americans; prayer was seen as optional, something that could be done or should be done, but not a necessity for survival in life. But now things are changing. People are experiencing worry and stress and struggle on a scale they haven’t seen in a long time if ever. How will they respond? With faith or fear? Will we turn to God in prayer or will we turn to ourselves with our own plans of self-help? For the true Christian, prayer is the answer to economic troubles. So today, let me examine a few biblical passages that explain the importance of prayer so that we can apply them to our economic difficulties today.

First, pray about every financial difficulty. Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Last week I examined this passage because it’s a biblical promise we can stand upon in financially troubling times, but this week I’d like to look at it as instructions for depending on prayer in economically hard times. Now when money gets tight and financial pressures start to build the natural human tendency is to worry. That certainly makes perfect sense to worry about losing your home in foreclosure or losing your job through a lay-off or the losing your car through repossession, etc. We can all understand why people worry about such things. By the grace of God I’ve never had anything of mine repossessed, but I can imagine how bad it feels or how anxious I would be if they threatened to come and take one of my possessions. About the closest I’ve ever come to having that same worry is being late in paying my utility bill and fearing that I’d come home one day after being out and finding the electricity turned off. That’s a bad feeling. I’ve got a funny story to share. I was late on my utility bill one month because I just didn’t have the money to pay and I got a little worried that they might shut me off. Well, every time a saw a utility truck near my home I started getting nervous. These trucks are out and about fixing and hooking up utilities for people all the time but every time I saw one parked on my street I started thinking it might be the guy to shut me off. Well, one day I came back to the house after being out and I came in the house and tried to turn on the lights but nothing came on; the power was out. The first thing I thought of was, “They shut me off.” For the next 5 to 10 minutes I really thought I was in big trouble until I looked up and down the street and noticed that all the homes were dark; it was a power outage! They hadn’t shut me off. Praise God! But I can understand the fear and anxiety after that experience. The Bible says that whether we are going through good times or bad times, when the economy is up or down, at all times, we should be praying regularly to God for anything and everything in life. Do you pray to God about everything that’s important in your life? Is it your habit to pray each day for a wide variety of things, or do you just go about your day doing whatever you think is best? If we aren’t already praying regularly about many different things, let us use difficult times to give us extra motivation to do what we already should be doing as Christians. Instead of worrying about all the things we worry about, let’s follow God’s Word and pray about these things to God. Let’s get into a habit of daily prayer, and then during especially hard times, let’s pray longer and about more things as the situation requires.

Second, practice private prayer primarily. Matthew 6:5-13, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen my men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This then is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’” For many, maybe even most Christians, public prayer is the normal way they participate in prayer. But that is something that needs to change in order to survive financially troubling times. There’s nothing wrong with public prayers in church services – and these are important and we should be participating in these on Sunday and other times the church gathers in her public meetings. There are also smaller groups that meet during the week and in the evenings, prayer groups, Bible studies, etc. that we should be participating in with prayer. But our primary means of prayer should be private, between us and the Lord individually. Why? Because there are too many specific things that need to be mentioned that can’t be dealt with in prayer publicly. It would be impossible to hold public prayer if everyone requested prayer about every concern in their life. No. Common prayers can and should be dealt with in public, but private prayers should be dealt with in private. Do you have a private prayer time in your daily schedule? Are you a Christian? If so, this needs to be a regular part of your day, whether it’s first thing in the morning or during the day at some point, or near the end of the day. The Bible says that when you pray in private, in secret before God, he will reward you for your prayers. In other words, he’ll attend to your requests and be sure to give to you the requests that need to be given, or he’ll make you wait if it’s not the right time, or he’ll deny the request if it’s not the right thing for you to have. But the important thing is to take everything to God in prayer. Spend time in private prayer every day. The Lord’s Prayer goes, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Can you think of a better prayer to pray during financially hard times? In other words, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Father, meet our needs every day.” That pretty much sums up most people’s requests. Our daily private prayer time with God consists of breaking down our many needs and asking God to meet them as he wills.

Third, we must make our requests known to God. Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, the, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” One of the temptations Americans face in the light of economic difficulties is a false sense of pride. Many Americans refuse to ask for help in anything. Now there is the opposite extreme problem with some Americans, a growing number of Americans unfortunately, who are very eager to ask for lots of things, especially from the government. These people want government to provide them with housing, with money, with jobs, with food, with transportation, etc. In other words, some people, many people, are too eager to ask for help, from anyone and everyone. For these people, they need to learn to ask from the right source – God, and not ask so much from other people to meet their basic needs. But the other group of people, independent, self-sufficient individuals, pride themselves on self-help responsibility. They never ask for help from anyone – even God. They don’t pray very much or ask even God for his help. They’d rather make it on their own. But this is equally wrong. God made us to depend on him. We were made to ask and receive things from our heavenly Father. We are children of God; he is our Father. What earthly children would consider it beneath their dignity to ask and receive their necessities from their parents? Yet there are people who never pray or hardly ever pray to God for things in life. It just might take a recession, or worse, a depression, to get these proud and self-sufficient individuals properly humbled enough to begin praying and trusting in God. Now God made us with abilities and talents and energy and drive, but not to operate independent from him. He wants us to take responsibility for our own lives and those under our care, but that doesn’t mean we must shoulder the whole burden alone. We are supposed to go to God in prayer to request his assistance in meeting our obligations and responsibilities in life. Some Americans seem to have more faith in themselves than in God. They feel self-sufficient when really they should be practicing God-sufficiency. I believe God is permitting this nation to undergo a recession and maybe a depression in order to humble proud, self-sufficient individuals to turn to him, as well as to point people who ask for too much human help to turn to God for their help. That’s what it means to “Seek first the kingdom of God . . . and all these things shall be added unto you.” The bottom line is that we all need to turn to God more heavily in these times of economic recession. And when we do, we gain more than God’s financial assistance; we gain a new and richer relationship with him as well, which is most important.

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4 Responses to “Turning to Prayer During Financially Tough Times”

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