[Course 22 Index] [Prayer-School Index] [Prayer Mini-Series Index ] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]
If we want to eliminate hindrances to seeing prayers get answered, we want to create an atmosphere that fosters and promotes
- Forgiveness and Unity
- Faith In God
- Boldness In Prayer
- Putting Our Finances Under God's Lordship
We have already talked about the first four items in previous lessons. This lesson will cover discuss the topic of putting our finances under God's Lordship.
FINANCES AND GOD'S LORDSHIP
When I teach on the subjects of tithing and of giving God Lordship of our finances, there are always some people who are angry or upset at this. They do not like the concept that they need to give a portion of their income back to God. Some people feel strongly that tithing is "Old Testament" and the law. They believe that they are no longer obligated to tithe because Jesus set us free from the law. They do not like anyone telling them how to manage their finances or suggesting they give their first fruits to God.
However, tithing is not part of the law.. the principle of tithing was in place long before the law was given. Chronologically Abraham lived and died over 400 years before Moses was born. The law was given through Moses. So Abraham was not under the law -- but Abraham tithed. God records the story in Genesis 14. Lot was Abraham's nephew. The city, Sodom, that Lot lived in was attacked by an invading army, along with several other cities in that region. The people in those cities, and all of their possessions, were taken captive and carried away by this invading army, including Abraham's nephew. When Abraham heard about this, he took a contingent of his servants that had been trained for battle and went to rescue his nephew and the others. Gen 14:16 records that "He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people." While returning from the rescue raid, Abraham stopped by Jerusalem (called Salem in those days) and met with the priest of God.
Gen 14:18-20 picks up that story.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
"Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand."
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (NIV)
Abraham was grateful to God for granting Him victory on this rescue mission. He ended up recovering far more than what was taken from the people who lived in the valley of Siddim (including Sodom) because the army had raided many other places before it got there. Abraham found himself with a vast supply of resources So he expressed his gratitude to God by tithing a tenth of all the spoils he'd recovered. He gave this to God, but he did it by giving the tithe to God's representative -- the priest. (The modern day equivalent is to give our tithe to our local church.)
Abraham tithed over 400 years before the law was given! Tithing is not a part of the law.. it precedes the law. Jesus' death and resurrection set us free from the law. But it did not remove our financial obligation to God.
In fact Jesus talked about finances and the subject of paying taxes. He said that we are to give to the government what belongs to the government and give to God what belongs to God. (See Matt 22:21, Mark 12:17 and Luke 20:25.)
Jesus seemed to expect that we give some of our finances to God. In fact, Jesus actually paid attention to people's offerings and how much they were giving to God. He sat down at the temple treasury and watched what people brought to God. It was like He checked out who was putting how much into the offering plate. We see the story in Mark 12:41-44:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on." (NIV)
Jesus did not feel it was inappropriate for people to give tithes and offerings to God -- in fact He paid special attention to what they were doing and to how much they were giving. Think of that next time the offering plate comes by at church -- God is watching to see how much you put into it. He wants you to demonstrate to Him that He is important to you by seeing you give Him something that is important to you, a portion of your hard-earned money.
I believe that God expects us to tithe, to give to Him the first fruits of our finances, just like He commanded in Malachi 3:10, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" (NIV). God expects us to tithe. In fact, when we don't tithe, He says that we are robbing Him and He becomes offended when we don't give Him the first fruits of our finances. (See Mal 3:6-11 for the details.)
And yet, you are right when you say that we are not under the law. The law, in regard to tithing, simply enforced the principle of tithe that preceded it. That principle was in effect before the law was given and remains in effect even after Jesus rose from the dead and freed us from being under the law.
God still expects your tithe. But He wants more than just your tithe. He wants Lordship over the other 90% as well. He wants to have the ability to control whatever resources you have whenever He wants to. God expects you to tithe, but He also expects you to obey Him when He tells you to give $500 to a mother who can't afford to feed her children. He expects you to obey Him when He says to give $100 to missions or some other large sum of money (above and beyond your tithe) to whoever He commands you to give it to.
So how does all of this relate to prayer? In two ways. Jesus explained the first one in Luke 16:10-12:
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?
Jesus said we have to be faithful in mammon (finances) if we want God to release the true riches (answers to prayers and His power and authority) to us.
The second way is that we demonstrate to God how important He is to us by how willing we are to let Him control the things that are valuable to us. We show Him that we love Him more than we love money. And the power and authority in prayer come out of that love relationship with God. It is out of our intimacy with God that God hears and answers our prayers.
I recently saw a story on the internet that illustrated this point in a graphic sort of way. I don't know the source of the original story to give them credit. But the story is poignant and worth sharing:
A little girl saw an imitation pearl necklace at the store and asked her mother to buy it for her. The mother made the little girl earn the money for the necklace by doing chores for a month. At the end of the month the little girl finally got her necklace. It was her prize, her pride and joy. She wore it everywhere.
One day when her father was tucking her in for bed, he asked her if she loved him. She said, "of course I do, Daddy." Her dad asked her to "Prove it" by giving him her pearl necklace. She could not do that and burst into tears. He told her it was ok, kissed her forehead and gave her a hug. This same scenario repeated another 4 times over the next few weeks.
One day when her father came in to tuck her in to bed, she was in tears. He asked her what was the matter. She handed him her precious pearl necklace and said, "I love it a lot, but I love you more."
The father responded by reaching into his pocket and pulling out a string of real pearls that had been there since the first time he asked her for the necklace. He put it around her neck and told her that he also loved her very much and wanted her to have these pearls as a token of his love for her!