In 2013 I was very blessed to be teaching an eight-week course to a church women’s group. The focus of our course was on the challenges of poverty in the community and the church’s response. We worked through a book on poverty. To use with their reading, I printed up and gave each woman a bookmark containing Bible verses that focus on poverty:
The Bible passages that focus on poverty include the following verses:
- Leviticus 19:18
- Deuteronomy 15:11
- 1 Samuel 2:8
- Psalm 82:3
- Proverbs 14:31
- Proverbs 19:17
- Proverbs 21:13
- Proverbs 22:9
- Proverbs 28:27
- Isaiah 58:6-7
- Matthew 5:43-45
- Matthew 10:30-31
- Matthew 11:28-30
- Matthew 13:31-33
- Matthew 13:44-46
- Matthew 15:32-39
- Matthew 18:10-14
- Matthew 19:19
- Matthew 22:35-39
- Matthew 25:37-40
- Matthew 26:11
- Mark 14:7
- Luke 3:9-11
- Luke 6:38
- Luke 10:27-37
- Luke 12:30-34
- Luke 17:20-21
- Luke 21:1-4
- 1 Corinthians 13:13
- 2 Corinthians 9:7-15
- Galatians 5:14
- Ephesians 2:8-10
- 1 Timothy 6:17-19
- James 1:27-28
- James 2:14-17
- 1 John 3:17-19
Those are just a few of the places where poverty is discussed in the Bible. There are many more such Bible verses on poverty, and I encourage you to search for them and pray over them. A wonderful way to pray is to turn a Bible verse into a prayer, by praying that verse back to God and thanking Him for His Word and for His heart for people living in poverty. You can do that for each of the Bible verses listed above, and more as you search for them with God’s help.
As an example, let’s look at Isaiah 58:6-7:
“’Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?'” (Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV)
Our prayer could be as simple and powerful as this, praying that scripture passage back to God:
Lord, thank You that You have called us to pray and fast, to invite You to loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. Thank You, God, for calling us to share our food with the hungry, and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, and when we see the naked, to clothe them. God, don’t let us turn away from our own flesh and blood, Your children whom You have given us as brothers and sisters in the family of our community. Thank You for teaching us how to live and empowering us, by Your Holy Spirit, to live this out in our daily lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Pray that together with others in your community. Be expectant and sensitive to how God will respond.
During our class time with the women’s group, I invited a guest speaker to give us insight into how widespread poverty is in our own community. One of the reasons I asked to teach this class is because when we read a book together as a group of women (we had a women’s reading group that met quarterly), we then need to put those ideas into action in some specific way. That’s exactly what I wanted to do with this class, to give them an opportunity to respond to their reading. And we did it. We created specific action steps that the women considered, discussed, and agreed on. And we took those steps together as a group and as individuals.
Because I believe prayer is the first action step to take, I also asked our group to create a prayer for persons living in poverty in our community. And then pray it together often, expecting change in our community and in our own hearts and families.
I wanted each person in the class to contribute to creating the prayer. We took some time to be quiet and listen to God. Then we went around the table, and each person suggested one prayer point to include in our prayer:
- Not accepting but trying to get out and not with violence
- Us to see a way they can get out
- Physical needs – shelter, food, clothing
- That they will not feel judged
- Opportunities to receive and give back
- Joy of the Lord
- Transportation problem (in our county)
It would have been enough just to have those prayer points in front of us and pray them in unity at the beginning of our class time each week. But I wanted the women to have a full prayer they could read out and share. Together we created the following prayer. I hope you will join us in praying this together in unity for your community:
PRAYER FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTY IN OUR COMMUNITY
Lord, we pray for everyone who is living in poverty in our community.
We pray that You would lift them up and give them hope.
Show us how to do our best and Your best for other people.
Help us try our best each day to pray for individuals and families living in poverty in our community.
Show us how to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to show His love.
Help individuals and families in poverty to have a voice, and help us to be Christ’s voice on their behalf.
Lord, we pray for people who become suddenly impoverished, because of accidents, health crises, job layoffs, natural disasters, etc. Give them strength and let them know hope and know that there is a way out, and help them not to give up and lose heart.
For individuals and families living in poverty in our community, Lord we ask that You would help them to realize who they are to You. For them to know there’s somebody who cares and who prays for them and who will walk beside them.
We ask this all in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.