By Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries
During a recent Sunday night service at a local church, a young minister shared a guideline for prayer handed down to him by an elder believer.
This guideline is based on the four letter word “pray.” The letter “p” stands for praise, followed by “r” for repentance, and “a” for asking on behalf of others. The final letter, “y,” represents yourself.
In other words, begin by praising God for his blessings, and save your needs last. As Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
This coming Thanksgiving celebration is an opportunity for Christians everywhere to offer God a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Psalm 116:17). It also is an opportunity to establish a pattern of thanksgiving in public and in prayer throughout the coming year.
This won’t be possible, however, without contentment. After all, how can we praise God for his blessings if we believe He has short-changed us in life?
Why Christians lack contentment
Christians become trapped in the discontentment when they adopt worldly goals. These goals always boil down to three things: more, bigger, and best, which are defined in the scriptures as indulgence, greed, and pride.
Such desires can never be satisfied, and they lead believers to become overly concerned about temporal, material things.
As a result, believers may worry about losing what they have. become jealous of what others have, or become angry with God because he hasn’t made them as prosperous as they’d like to be.
In direct contrast to these attitudes is contentment, which involves knowing God’s plan for your life, having conviction to live it, and believing that God’s peace is greater than the world’s problems.
God’s plan for contentment
Although many scriptures teach about the dangers of material riches, God’s Word does not teach that poverty is the alternative.
God wants us to understand that money is a tool to use in accomplishing His plan through us.
Thus, our attitudes about money, not money itself, are the cause of discontentment.
Christians who want to find true contentment need to follow some basic guidelines.
Establish a reasonable standard of living.
Just having a surplus does not mean it’s okay to use it as we want.
It’s important to develop a lifestyle based on conviction – not circumstances. “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people are we to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).
God will assign Christians at every economic tier. If God placed you in the upper tier, there is a purpose for your abundance. This might range from a local ministry work to an international outreach.
Also remember that having an abundance is not always a sign of God’s blessing. Your abundance may be more of a worry than a pleasure, because the riches God provides are without “sorrow” and exist for the purpose of bringing others to salvation.
A disciplined lifestyle with an abundance is more of a witness than the abundance could ever be.
Establish a habit of giving.
Above the tithe, God wants Christians to be involved with the needs of others. “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me'” (Matthew 25:40).
There is no better way to appreciate what we have than to help those who truly have needs.
Every Christian family should be directly involved with the needs of another family (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).
Develop a thankful attitude.
Compared to many other nations, America is tremendously blessed. Thus it’s remarkable that Americans could believe that God has failed to provide them enough material blessings. The primary defense against this is praise to God.
Satan uses lavishness and waste to create discontentment and self ambition. Why else would some people drive themselves to acquire more than they need or can logically use and in the process destroy their health, families, and usefulness to God?
Thankfulness is a state of mind, not an accumulation of assets. Until Christians can truly thank God for what they have and be willing to accept that as God’s provision for their lives, contentment will never be possible.
Reject a fearful spirit.
Another tool of Satan is the question ” What if?” Dedicated Christians get trapped into hoarding because they fear the “What if?” of retirement, disability, unemployment, or economic collapse.
Obviously, God wants us to consider these things and even plan for them, within reason. But excessive fear causes us to hoard money and limit our giving.
As a result, God’s work becomes hindered, worry because a part of our lives, and we are unable to find contentment.
In order to overcome these attitudes, Christians must consciously reject fear. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Finally, make it your priority to seek God’s will for your life. We’re all impressed by what the apostle Paul accomplished in his lifetime, but there was a reason for his success.
As he wrote in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things to be lost in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I might gain Christ”.