The prayer of Agur - 28 Augustus 2017

Danny Fourie

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.  Proverbs 30: 7-9

Agur is a wise man. We see this immediately when he says: "I do not have human understanding" (verse 2). Wise people see themselves as without knowledge. Foolish people see themselves as wise. His wisdom gives expression in the way in which he sees his own insignificance before God’s greatness (verse 4). We also see Agur’s wisdom when he prays to God. He prays to his God, intensely and with respect.

He also prays in an orderly manner. He says to God that he desires two things from Him. The Lord must please not deny his prayer before he dies. In his prayer he does not summarize a thousand and one things or wishes. He limits his request to two things that weigh the heaviest in his life. The two things are: Do not allow me to be false or to lie. And do not make me rich or poor.

When we listen to Agur’s prayer, we tend to pay attention to the first and then to the second request.

Agur does not pray to receive something, but precisely not to receive something. His prayer is: Do not give me riches. Remarkable. We usually tend to want something. Our prayers always revolve around ourselves. Not Agur’s prayer. In his prayer his own desire is not central, but God stands in the centre. This is the characteristic of true prayer.

Why does Agur pray like this? One may after all be rich. Agur prays that God will forbid that he becomes rich, because he fears that if rich he would not need God anymore. He is very afraid that he will say: I do not know the Lord. Then he would be on the same level as the pharaoh who also asked who the Lord was. Agur knows himself. He knows how weak he is and how strong the temptation is. How easily his heart can be inflamed by haughtiness and disbelief.

Prayer: Lord, Agur’s prayer lets us wonder how we often pray. Always to receive. Help us to avoid the extremes in life. You protect us in any case in all circumstances. Amen.

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