A friend of mine, wearied by the impact the economy has had on her business, asked me a good question. She wondered, "Is it okay to pray for more business?" My answer to her was simple. I told her, "It depends."
The friend said she was grateful for what God has provided to date, but also admitted she had a strong desire to see her business grow. As we talked about this, I explained that I believe the answer to whether it is proper to pray for more business lies in the underlying motives.
If an individual decides to pray for more business out of worry and fear of what the future might hold, then that person is ignoring Jesus' command not to worry. Jesus was focusing on the motive when He told His followers in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."
In a similar sense, if a business owner is praying for more work, more sales or a larger client base solely because he or she wants an increased income to spend on things they want, again the answer to the question would be no. In the same discourse with people that were following Him, Jesus made this statement: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).
However, there is one very legitimate reason for praying for more business. In fact, I feel certain God would encourage you to do so. If your desire to grow your business stems from a greater desire to better please God and serve customers through the products or services you can provide, then that is a prayer God can answer – and wants to answer. Perhaps in a way far greater than anything you could imagine.
Too often we relegate any sense of God’s presence and personal involvement in our lives to what happens on Sunday mornings. Or perhaps we feel free to pray to Him when we confront serious personal or family issues. But when it comes to business and workplace needs, for some reason we typically leave God out of the equation.
Repeatedly we see in the Bible that God wants us to pray. But it also advises us that our hearts – our motives – need to be in the right place, whether at work, at home, or wherever we go.
About prayer, we are told to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That means all of the time, and everywhere we go. We also are admonished, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
At the same time, it says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). God’s emphasis on our motives is cited in many other places, including Proverbs 16:2, which says, “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
© 2011 Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from "Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx," a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.