Proverbs 30: 7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die.
We’re told in Proverbs 1 that this book is written to give wisdom to the simple, so that we might understand and interpret the words of the wise (Proverbs 1: 4-6). Here in chapter 30 Agur is giving us a glimpse of the prayer of the wise. In the first six verses we read of Agur’s acknowledgment that he is nothing and that God is everything! Before we come to God in prayer we must first come to the reality that we are nothing and He truly is everything. His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts greater than ours!
As you read verse seven you might think that he comes with a pride to “require” the Mighty hand of God to do anything especially after he just acknowledged that he was not. However, this word, require, actually is from the Hebrew word, שׁאל שׁאל, which is pronounced shaw-al’, shaw-ale’. It means to ask, request, require, beg. Now our understanding of Agur’s prayer is beginning to line up with his intent isn’t it? The prayer of the wise understand who they are, who God is, and our need to make our requests from Him. Before we go to prayer it is good for us to consider what it is we need and ask of God. “What does our case require? What do our hearts desire?” Let us take a look at Agur and the two things he requested of God:
“Remove far from me vanity and lies” Agur wanted truth and substance in his life. He requested ‘reality’ from God. Not an image, not a pretend appearance, but a true and accurate account of God’s grace at work in his life. What a sad and miserable soul that pretends to abide in His grace. It offers no hope through the storms of life, no strength in times of trial, and worse of all no eternal security with the Living God. We too would be wise to request that God peal off all the layers of the ‘appearance’ of holiness and remove vanity and lies far from us.
“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me” After we are sure that our relationship with the Lord is one of truth. That we truly abound in His grace and are called, “children of God”, then we should consider our physical needs. We pray not for increase that would cause us to think more of ourselves than we ought, increase that would cause us to deny His mighty hand, or increase that would have us ignore our need for Him, we ask for “food convenient”. Simply give me what I need Lord so that I neither deny you with my increase or “take your name in vain” because of my poverty.
The prayer of the wise also acknowledges that it is while we are yet living that we require our needs. I like what Matthew Henry says, “Lord, give me pardon, and peace and grace, before I die, before I go hence and be no more; for, if I be not renewed and sanctified before I die, the work will not be done after; if I do not prevail in prayer before I die, prayers afterwards will not prevail, no, not Lord, Lord.”
Do we pray as the wise? Do we consider ourselves abase and acknowledge who God is, His power and His ways that are beyond our own? Do we pray for our needs? First giving attention to our spiritual need and then our physical? Are we people of prayer? Understanding that is while we are in the ‘land of the living’ that we make our petitions before the Lord and not afterwards? May we each open our minds and hearts to the thoughts of God and pray as one who is wise!
With much love,
Mrs. Joseph Wood