Is it wrong to ask God for success?

Pastor J.D. explains that it’s more about why than what we ask God.

A glimpse inside this episode:

Short answer is no, it is not wrong.

Psalm 27:13: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”

Examples of things Christians prayed for. Here’s a handful, in no particular order:

  • Hannah prayed for a son (1 Samuel 1).
  • Solomon prayed for wisdom (1 Kings 3).
  • Manoah asked God to show him how to raise his son (Judges 13 v 8).
  • David prayed for guidance and assistance in trouble (Psalm 86:1–2).
  • Eliezer prayed that he would meet the right girl to introduce to his BFF Isaac (Genesis 24).
  • Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still to have more time to get the job done (Joshua 10 v 12-13).
  • Hezekiah asked God to turn back an invading army (1 Kings 19 v 19).
  • Daniel asked God to show him the meaning of a dream (Daniel 2 v 3, 17-19).
  • Jacob prayed for God to keep him safe from his angry brother (Genesis 32 v 9–12).
  • Gideon prayed (twice) for God to confirm something he was calling him to do (Judges 6 v 36-40).
  • Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain (James 5 v 17).
  • And then he prayed that it would (James 5 v 18).
  • Nehemiah asked God to give him the guts to make a big request of his boss (Nehemiah 2 v 4).
  • James prayed for sick people to get better (James 5 v 15).
  • In the gospel, desperate dads prayed for their dying daughters (Mark 5 v 21-43).
  • Paul prayed that he’d be able to go and see his friends (1 Thessalonians 3 v 9-13).
  • The early church prayed to not cave in fear in the face of persecution (Acts 4 v 24-30).
  • John prayed for Jesus to return (Revelation 22 v 20).

I could go on. Throughout the Bible, you find people praying about anything that matters to them: anything that seems essential to doing what they think they’re supposed to do. Just like God wants them to.

Has to do with idolatry and motive:

  • Solomon: asking for greatness for the sake of this people
  • God’s not a genie or your own heavenly piñata. 

Context: Christianity Today article about prosperity gospel in Africa

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, prosperity-tinged Pentecostalism is growing faster not just than other strands of Christianity, but than all religious groups, including Islam (this was in 2007).
  • This provokes concern — but also hope.
  • Cars in many African cities display bumper stickers like “Unstoppable Achiever,” “With Jesus I Will Always Win,” and “Your Success Is Determined by Your Faith,”
  • In a land where discouragement and denigration have been the norm, the gospel preaches dignity
  • “…where some proclaim opulence, others simply uphold God’s provision for basic needs.”
  • “It seems hypocritical for Western Christians who live in their nice suburbs to criticize Africans who want to ‘prosper’—when many of those Africans are just beginning to leave grass huts and experience for the first time the joys of owning a car, holding a decent job, or enrolling in college. Do we really believe it is wrong for them to want those things?”
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