May you bring together your followers to what?!?

Lord, our Father, may Your everlasting strength and resolve help solidify and bring together Your Nation of devoted followers to work towards uplifting the economy. We pray for You to forgive foreclosures, for the Nation’s dollar to be strong in value once again, and for the government to make wise and Godly decisions with the country’s national resources. Let us pray to You, oh Lord, to provide relief to those impoverished and in dire need; and for those of us with wealth and abundance to increase our charity and support as we were taught through Your divine teachings.

I received an email this evening with this prayer, and couldn’t help but be a bit disturbed regarding the sentiments it expresses.

While we seem to have acquired the view in our country that it’s God’s will for all poor people to become middle class, I think the very first line in this prayer strikes me as a symptom of one of our main problems in America today – the focus on increasing our personal wealth and well being, and promoting said within a Christian framework. The author of the prayer hopes that we will all come together “to work toward the uplifting of the economy…” The working of the Kingdom of God, the deep despair of souls wrecked by greed and pride, and the global mission of the Church seem to take second priority to having a strong, vibrant national economy. Additionally, the author doesn’t *actually* pray for relief to those who are impoverished and in need, or for charity on the part of believers, but asks that God would “let us pray” for such things.

I’m not certain, but I have to think that God’s Kingdom exists on a level that’s a bit different from interest rates and sub-prime mortgages. Somehow we’ve taken the idea that God has always wanted us to have a booming capitalist economy and that if He *really* loves us, he’ll keep the money flowing.

Two things humble me about this assumption.

The first and most scary is that it is often in the times of greatest blessing we find it most difficult to rely on God. When Jesus speaks in the Sermon on the Mount, at least in Luke, he does not say “blessed are the poor in Spirit”, but rather “blessed are the poor.” I think Jesus knew that the poor are desperately aware of their need of a helper, a savior. As one of the richest and most blessed nations on earth, I think we confuse our wealth as a great blessing, when in reality I think it often makes it much harder for us to see God, and to live the lives we’re called to. It’s much more difficult for those of us who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo to be about transforming the structures of this world to allow the lowest and the least among us to be elevated to a position of significance.

Second, do we feel we can honestly ask God to bless us further so we can be charitable when we have been such poor stewards of God’s wealth in the service of other people up to this point? As a nation, we may give more than any other country on earth toward charitable causes, but we still give a tiny fraction of what we have to helping others and solving global problems. How hypocritical can we be to ask God to grant us more money, saying that “then we’ll be able to give more?” Do we not have charity backwards? Can we not let go of what we have first and foremost, allowing God to bless us with more once we have first selflessly given what we have away?

At the end of the day, my hope and prayer is that God is doing a lot more right now than worrying about the valuation of the American Dollar, and that each of us would realize that our 401k’s have very little to do with either our eternal destination, or our present contentment and satisfaction in life.

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