“Dear God, I want to be very rich…” (and other prayers)

“Dear God, I want to be very rich. I would like a Benz or at least a new Honda Civic with a sweet spoiler and racing stripe…”

Do your prayers sound like that? Probably not. You might prefer a BMW.

Realistically, our prayers don’t very often sound quite like that but sometimes that is about the gist of what we pray for. Stuff, sometimes good stuff, is what occupies the majority of our prayers. I am not saying it is always bad to pray for stuff. I am not saying it is bad for us to pray that our dear Aunt Ruth will get over her cold, we should do that, please do, but we must also pray for other stuff; spiritual stuff.

What is the precedence set in the New Testament? What did the New Testament authors pray for? Very often, our prayers are for health, wealth, and prosperity but what do we see mainly modeled in the Bible?

The biblical authors more often prayed for God to be glorified in the face of their ill health or ill circumstances then they prayed for an escape from what they were facing. From what I have noticed in the New Testament there are five prayers for “health.”[1] However, we can look at six examples of Paul praying for God to be glorified in spite of ill “health” or circumstances.[2] So, as we pray for dear Aunt Ruth we should pray that she would honor God and be encouraged by God’s truth even as she is sick. We could also pray that she would be comforted by God and thus be able to comfort others when they go through difficulties (2 Cor. 1:4).

The clear precedence Paul sets in his prayers are not merely the physical health of others but their spiritual health.[3] It would be hard to sum up Paul’s prayers but if I attempted to do so, I would not include any petitions for health, wealth, or prosperity. That, of course, does not make temporal concerns wrong or bad to pray for, but we should see that our prayers should not be overly weighed down with those types of petitions over against the petitions that are repeatedly modeled in Scripture.

Please pray that God would give us, the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which He has called us, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might (Eph. 1:17-19 also see Phil. 1:9-11 for another great verse to pray). Also, pray for me, that I would proclaim the gospel boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph. 6:19-20).


[1] See Matt. 26:39; Rom. 15:30-33; 2 Cor. 12:7-9; James 5:13; 3 Jn. 2

[2] See Rom. 12:12; 2 Cor. 1:3-7; 13:7-9; 1 Thess. 2:13-16; 2 Thess. 1:3; Eph. 6:19-20 (note “in chains”).

[3] For a list of most of Paul’s prayers see: Rom. 1:8-10; 10:1; Rom. 15:5-6, 13; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 2:14-16; 9:12-15; Gal. 6:18; Eph. 1:3, 15-23; 3:14-21; 6:19-20; Phil. 1:3-6, 9-11; 4:6-7, 23; Col. 1:3-14; 4:2-4; 1 Thess. 1:2-3; 2:13-16; 3:9-13; 5:23-24, 28; 2 Thess. 1:3, 11-12; 2:16-17; 3:2-5, 16; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2:1; 2 Tim. 1:3-7, 16-18; 4:22; Philem. 4-7, 25.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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