What Would Happen If We Prayed Before We Spent Money?

When something’s a legitimate need, God will provide it. But how often do we take matters into our own hands and spend impulsively before asking God to furnish it for us? How often do we go buy something—whether we consider it a “want” or a “need”—a week or a month before God would have provided it for free or at minimal cost, if only we’d asked him?

Years ago, my friend wanted a good exercise bicycle. He even picked the exact model, a model I was familiar with. I hadn’t seen it sold at anything less than its retail price: $350. But instead of going out to buy it, he told me he was praying God would provide him that exact bike. By not spending the money, he would have more to give. A few days later I was in a thrift store and was stunned to see that model of exercise bicycle. It looked like it had never been used. I called my friend. He got the exact bicycle he asked for, costing him $25 instead of $350.

I did something similar when I finally gave up trying to purchase an original 1947 Time magazine with C. S. Lewis on the cover. I’d bidded for it on eBay a number of times, but it always moved out of a price range I was comfortable with. One evening, having lost another bid, I thought, “Lord, I'm wasting my time. I’ve asked you to help me win a bid, but I’ve never asked you to actually provide the magazine. It’s a small thing, and I probably shouldn’t want it this much. But I’m asking you for it. If you want me to have it, you’re going to have to provide it at no cost.”

I was virtually certain I’d never have it, but I felt good giving it to the Lord. Some time later someone who’d read a few of my books, seeing how often I quoted C.S. Lewis, sent me the magazine in the mail. I couldn't believe it—then I remembered how I’d prayed for it.

Often we either buy what we want or forego what we want, when there’s a third alternative: ask God to provide it for us. If He doesn’t, fine—He knows best. But why don’t we give Him a chance?

Waiting eliminates most impulsive buying. Many things that are attractive today hold no interest two months later. Look at garage sales or the dump, and you get the picture. Setting a waiting period gives God the opportunity to provide what we want, to provide something different or better, or to show us that we don’t need it and should use the money differently.

See more resources on money and giving, as well as Randy's related books, including Managing God's Money and Giving Is the Good Life.

Photo: Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries