Lord's Prayer requests daily bread — not entire loaf

Lorraine Murray / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution /

A friend was describing a lavish house she had just purchased. She listed multiple bathrooms, Jacuzzis and marble countertops, and then came the zinger, “It’s all because of God!” She is a firm believer in the prosperity gospel, so she expects God to reward her prayers with houses and cars, and whatever else her heart desires.

From this perspective, health and wealth mean you are right with God, while hard times indicate something is amiss.

Problem is, the prosperity gospel is spiritually bankrupt.

Nowhere did Christ promise his followers opulent houses and glittering jewelry and all the trappings of wealth.

Instead, he recommended picking up the cross daily and following him. You’ll notice he didn’t say go get your bankroll.

He also said rich folks would have a tough time getting into heaven. When a wealthy young man sought his advice on becoming perfect, Christ told him to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor — and “come follow me.” Following him means at times enduring suffering, but prosperity-gospel folks sidestep that conclusion. They believe that if you’re down and out, that’s a sign of dwindling faith.

They apparently forget the many Old Testament figures, like Job, who lost health and wealth while remaining faithful to God. They seem to overlook the crucifixion itself.

In truth, many well-off people fund missionary work, helping to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. And it was a rich man who provided the tomb for Jesus.

Still, it is spiritually dangerous to proclaim that people with money are God’s chosen few.

There is a deeply moving refrain in the Psalms, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” The poor obviously include those with little money, as well as people with failing health.

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