The Prayer of Who?
Agur ben Jakeh is widely reputed to be the author of Proverbs, chapter 30, sometimes also referred to as the book of Agur. Although most of the book of Proverbs is said to have been compiled by King Solomon, toward the end of the book other authors start to creep in. Or at least the names of other people start showing up.
Not much is known about the character of Agur, he only appears this one time in all of scripture and does not have any mention in any other Hebrew Chronicles of the same time period. This is perhaps because the name itself could just be Solomon again trying to disguise his identity. Agur in Hebrew literally means “the compiler” while Jakeh means the one who “spat out the word of God”. So Agur ben Jakeh in Hebrew means “The Compiler, Son of He Who Spat out The Word of God”.
The actual identity of Agur therefore is not important.
The so called Prayer of Agur has over the years become a personal mantra of mine. For a time, when I was going through serious financial difficulty I taped it to the inside of my wallet and it became one of the starting points for my first book; “Meekonomics; How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy.” It reads;
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 dishonor the name of my God. [Proverbs 30:7-9]
I am sorry to say that over the years I have done the exact opposite of what this prayer requests. I have lied, I have been both poor and somewhat wealthy, I have arrogantly disowned and subjugated my faith in the Lord and I have committed fraud in an attempt to maintain my position and lifestyle. I discovered this prayer when I was at my absolute worst. God brought me to a point where I could cling to nothing I had created or developed without Him. I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night, debts mounting, bill collectors calling and my mortgage company threatening repossession and literally praying for death.
It was during this dark time that, through a Sunday Sermon on generosity, I first heard the prayer of Agur. I read it again this past week as I came to the end of a two month study on Proverbs. Life has changed for me since I first embraced this prayer. I am no longer on the verge of losing everything. I’ve been through “the valley of the shadow of death” and emerged on the other side a stronger, more practical, and more generous man. I no longer carry these words with me everywhere I go but I realized as I read them again for the first time in a couple of years that I still need them. From time to time I still need to be reminded of their message and their power.
Everyone has a tendency to bend the truth and seek after extravagant and disproportionate wealth. We all tend to put too much stock in our own ability and so deny the power of God working in our lives. We all tend to try and keep up with the Jones’ by any means necessary. The Prayer of Agur reminds us not to do those things. He reminds us that God is God and we are not and he reminds us that everything we have is ultimately a gift from the one who made us.
The Prayer of Agur can be summed up in one line –
Lord keep me humble, so that I don’t become arrogant and forget about you.
The world would be a much better please if we all tried to remember that. Let’s do it, shall we?