Jeremiah 29:7 “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
God is here expressing an economic principle that is all too often forgotten: genuine prosperity does not come in isolation. Even the filthy rich couldn’t be that way unless the general population had enough money to be able to buy their products, whether those products are merchandise or entertainment. We don’t expect the Bible to be an economics textbook, but in many ways it really is. Jesus had more to say about money than He did about heaven! The principle expressed here is the reason why democracies have been more prosperous than any other kind of nation: the general population is given the opportunity to become prosperous, which raises the prosperity of the entire nation. That’s very solid macro economics! However, the various economic principles expressed in the Bible are never in a vacuum; they are always in the context of accountability toward and dependence on God. That’s why this verse specifically says to pray. If we try to divorce human activity from God we won’t get very far. This actually ties in with the 2nd Great Commandment, (Matthew 22:36-40) which was part of Sunday’s message. If we love our neighbor as we love ourselves, we will pray for his blessing and prosperity. There are some activities we cannot in good conscience pray for God to bless, but in such cases we can pray for the people involved to be delivered and led into righteous activities. You don’t pray for the local drug dealer to have lots of customers, for example, but you do pray for him to repent and believe in Christ so that he may use his God-given abilities in the way they were intended.
This is a somewhat surprising revelation even for me. I don’t expect my devotions to be about economics! However, I need to remember that God is indeed interested in every detail of our lives, and that His plans for us, mentioned so famously in verse 11, cover every one of those details. Men in particular are adept at compartmentalizing their lives, so I’ve got to be careful that every compartment is yielded and submitted to God. I am all too adept at being spiritual one minute and carnal the next. I need to seek God’s help in being consistently faithful, not simply for my own sake but so that my example may draw others closer to God. For example, I am not to tell others to pray for the prosperity of their city and nation and fail to do so myself. I cannot control others directly, and I should not be trying to do so. However, I should be praying for them and allowing God to use me as His agent in blessing them.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I am very prone to want to control others, but doing so violates the free will that You have given each of us. Help me release everyone into Your hands, praying for them while recognizing that Your hands are certainly big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to deal with every detail. Thank You. Praise God!