A Proverbs Prayer Guide for Pastors and Their Finances


Money can be an internal point of contention within the pastorate. Pastors naturally feel this inner tension when reflecting on verses like 1 Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching,” and 1 Timothy 3:3, where Paul says that a pastor should not be “a lover of money.”

Navigating the motive for money and the financial stability of providing for a minister and his family can cause real struggles for any pastor. To put it practically, some pastors feel they need more money to live on but also do not want to be seen as using their position for greedy gain. These two competing ideas cause real stress in the lives of those called to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.

Pastors who struggle with this internal turmoil should be aware that Proverbs 30:7-9 provides a prayer guide for calming the money tension inside a minister of the gospel. To put the problem in question form: “How can a pastor find a biblical balance between providing for themselves and their families financially while not greedily seeking material prosperity?” Many scholars assert that Agur’s words in Proverbs 30:7–9 are a prayer to the Lord. Thus, they serve as a Scripture-guided prayer for balancing financial health and selfish gain.

Proverbs 30:7–9 (ESV) reads,

Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Agur provides pastors with four prayer prompts—especially for those called to earn a living by laboring “in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17).

Prompt #1: Praying over one’s finances should be a continuous prayer throughout one’s life and ministry.

Before Agur makes his two requests known to God, he says, “deny them not to me before I die.” This expression could be said another way, “As long as I live, Oh Lord, answer this petition on behalf of your servant.” A minister’s finances tend to ebb and flow. Whether a pastor is just starting, called to move from one place of ministry to another, or economic turmoil hurts those in the church, a pastor’s salary can sometimes be good and, at other times, not so good. Regardless of where your finances are at this moment, Agur shows a pastor that praying over his finances should be a constant reality on this side of eternity.

Prompt #2: Pray for financial contentment.

Agur’s prayer request—specifically towards possessions—reads, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me” (Prov. 30:8). One could rightly insinuate that this exists as a prayer for the author’s contentment. The author asks God to help him be joyful with what the Lord has already provided for him financially. When the necessities of life are being met, pastors should pray about remaining content with their finances. Ministry leaders who earn their wages in pastoral ministry should ask God for contentment, no matter how big or small their salary.

How does the author pray specifically towards being content when thinking about his financial situation? Agur prays for his contentment by asking God to deliver him from two extremes that can hinder his gratitude towards and relationship with God. The following two requests guide the final two prayer prompts.

Prompt #3: Pray against poverty.

The author addressed poverty by writing, “Give me neither poverty… lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:8-9). Agur seems to be firmly aware of his propensity towards sin. He knows that if God makes him poor, he will be tempted to leave contentment and possibly take matters into his own hands by thievery. He indicated that poverty could lead him to profanity—namely, dishonoring God’s name through stealing. Agur serves as a guide to a pastor’s financial situation. A minister of the gospel can pray that God doesn’t make him a pauper so that he is not tempted to acquire money through sinful means.

Pompt #4: Pray against riches.

Agur’s prayer flows between poverty and wealth—i.e., riches (cf. Prov. 30:8). Agur petitioned, “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” Why the prayer against riches? Proverbs 30:9 reads, “Lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?'” This author is aware not only of his sinfulness to steal when faced with poverty, but also his pride, allegiance, and security that money brings to his life. Agur serves as a model for pastors to pray against the temptation to leave God in the pursuit of financial wealth. In other words, a minister of the gospel can pray against wealth that would tempt them to replace their love of God with a love of money.

It is at this point that the argument could be made that this author has provided the perfect prayer guide for combating the tension a pastor feels between providing for his family and refraining from being or becoming “a lover of money” (1 Tim. 3:3). From Agur’s prayer in Proverbs 30:7–9, ministers of the gospel are divinely given four prayer prompts for overcoming the internal tension of dealing with finances. They are: 1) continuously pray over one’s finances, 2) pray for contentment, 3) pray against poverty, and 4) pray against riches. May any pastor who reads these verses use them to prayerfully combat the tension in one’s heart, mind, and soul about their relationship to money.

About the author: Jeremy Bell serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church Holland in Holland, Texas. He is married to Katie, and father of Avery, Landon, Addilyn, Lincoln, and Levi. Jeremy is a three-time graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div, ThM, and PhD). You can find more of Jeremy's thoughts and writings over at beimitators.com.