No money for movies. No money for dinners out. No money for anything but essentials like food, gas, and toilet paper. Not exactly the dream life, is it?
But it's the life millions of Americans face. Foreclosures, unemployment, and stock market drops were once topics for news headlines. Now those topics fill our dinner conversations and our prayer requests.
I know what it's like to pray about overwhelming financial challenges. In my husband's first years as a pastor, our house payment gobbled half his income. I didn't expect riches when I married a minister, but I also didn't anticipate 13-16 percent interest rates on a starter home. After our tithe and a sacrificial gift to our church's building program, we lived on 30 percent of my husband's small salary.
During those ground beef and tuna years, I learned that lean financial times call for more than strict budgets and financial discipline. Tough times call for tough prayers—prayers that move us past frustration and helplessness to seeing God's power and glory in our daily lives. We can replace panic with confidence when we focus our prayers on these four requests.
Pray for Clarity
Every time I hear Suze Orman say "De-nied" to a caller's ridiculous spending request, I recognize the value of clarity. Many personal finance gurus encourage us to hold our financial records before a mirror so we can see our true monetary situation. Without a clear picture, we won't know how to balance our income and expenses. We won't make the hard choices needed for economic survival.
But like it or not, our money and jobs are entwined with our views of life and self. And that link makes it difficult to assess our circumstances objectively. My money problems often trigger a storm cloud of conflicting feelings—fear, pride, and anger—that block a clear vision of all the issues involved. Prayer helps me deal with my churning emotions before they skew my decisions and perspective.
On one level, my friend Amy felt a great peace when her husband lost his job. On another level, she felt angry about the circumstances surrounding Mike's layoff. Her irritation with union politics triggered heart tantrums as frustration battled faith for control. When she couldn't stop the tears, she finally hit her knees.
Earlier that week Amy had studied the confrontation between King Hezekiah of Judah and King Sennacherib of Assyria described in Isaiah 36-37. Desperate for God's help, Hezekiah laid Sennacherib's threatening letter before the Lord and prayed.