God & Money: A Prayer

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Here’s a prayer that I’ve recently written, a prayer I needed to hear for myself, in response to growing inequalities and greed:

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Several thought leaders and groups influenced the creation of this prayer. Firstly, I want to give credit to the book The Gift by Lewis Hyde, which has some phenomenal observations on how the act of gift-giving (even more than the gift itself) builds relationships, trust, and communities. I’m grateful to my colleague and friend Carlene Hill Byron, who first introduced me to this book.

I also want to applaud the Faith and Money Network, which has helped to expand my beliefs regarding, well, money (and faith :). The Faith and Money Network led a talk a few years ago that introduced me to a local, Black-owned bank that uses its capital to offer loans to small businesses right here, in my city. After that talk, my partner and I moved our accounts to that bank so that our monetary loaves and fishes can be used for good (and not just Wall Street greed). The Faith and Money Network also regularly offers online study groups to explore our history (and habits) with money, as well as a money autobiography, which helps us name our personal stories regarding what we believe about money. In short, I highly recommend them!

The “Good Money” issue of Yes! Magazine from a few years ago also opened my eyes, and expanded my worldview, to the ways that personal and social capital can contribute to God’s heart for justice. Even though this is a secular publication, many of these articles align well with Biblical teachings on jubilee and sabbath.

For a deep dive into Biblical teachings of sabbath and jubilee, check out this Bible Project podcast series on the topic. For example, when Jesus teaches us to pray “forgive us our debts, just as we forgive our debtors” in the Lord’s Prayer, he’s not just talking about our emotional roadblocks; he’s also talking about money.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t commend the “Sound the Trumpet” issue from Geez Magazine (where I serve as Poetry Editor), which explores what Biblical teachings on jubilee may look like in practice today. Sabbath and jubilee are not just about taking a nap; these key Biblical teachings are about canceling debts, restoring land ownership to original owners, and allowing land to lie fallow on a regular basis. What’s at stake here is restoring right relationship among God, people, and creation–jubilee and sabbath matter That. Much.

When COVID first struck in 2020, many thought leaders saw a pressing opportunity for enacting jubilee practices. This 2020 Washington Post Opinion piece, “A debt jubilee is the only way to avoid a depression,” offers real-world insights into why God may still want us to consider the economic forgiveness of debts big and small. Even now, as the US Supreme Court considers the Biden Administration’s efforts to cancel large amounts of student debt, this conversation on money, jubilee, and debt cancellation remains weighty.

In short, the Bible has much to say not only about our personal giving, but also about how we structure our national budgets, land ownership practices, and debt assumptions. The health of our land (not to mention our relationships with God and with each other) are tied to how we handle money.

Yes, the stakes are that high. How, then, shall we respond?

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Photo credit: Jim Sorbie on VisualHunt.com. 

I also give thanks to The Redbud Post, which first published this prayer.

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