As I write this, there is strife related to income inequality in the United States. Sometimes, this turns into disdain on the part of those in lower income brackets toward millionaires and billionaires, with phrases like “Eat the rich” populating social media. While the rich may seem to have it all—from porches, to mansions, to haute cuisine—I shall argue, contrary to standard views, it is perhaps they who need our prayers the most.
Frequently, we take pity upon poor people and homeless people. It is people without material possessions and luxuries we often are called to pray for and minister to. Nothing in this paper goes against assisting those individuals and praying for them. However, the spiritual situation may be even more dire for the wealthy and we should, thus, keep them in our prayers.
If you are a Christian, you must want everyone to join you in the Kingdom of Heaven. We pray for mercy and compassion for those who have lost their spiritual path in life, which can easily be done. While we are taught not to take stock in things of the world because they are fleeting, it is far too easy to get caught up in professional advancement, wealth accumulation, your latest travels and material possessions. I grant that one can have all these things and nevertheless be a Christian. However, I shall show the spiritual situation is more dire for those in the top income brackets.
The spiritual situation for the wealthy was told to us by Jesus Himself in Matthew 19: 23-24. There, we find Jesus telling His disciples it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God:
Jesus’ disciples were, of course, shocked to hear this, as we may be today. But this is not too far-fetched. When you are poor, sometimes all you have is God. When you are rich, it’s easy to have everything but God.
If we are to take this seriously, there are many people who only have a slim chance of getting into Heaven—and we know it. While I think pity is rarely a proper response to the situation of things, love and mercy are what Jesus calls for. If we are to have those things for others—even strangers—we should pray for them and for God to have mercy on them.
It is easy to disparage the rich and view them with contempt. After all, they have the means to change the world for the better and, often, they don’t. Your suffering may be directly related to their comfort, then. Furthermore, the rich often engage in political participation that may harm many people. However, Jesus’ commandment for us is to love one another as the did. In performing this love, we ought to pray for our wealthy counterparts.
While the poor may only have God at times and may thus be spiritually rich, the monetarily wealthy may, as a matter of fact, be spiritually poor. Given that it is said that those who are given much will be expected to do much, and the fact that many millionaires and billionaires probably do not invest their resources in a Godly way, we may wonder if the rich are deserving of our prayers and mercy.
I think the answer is ‘yes’, they are deserving. If we are to show the kind of love and mercy God has shown us, which is probably undeserved, we should extend those blessings to others even if they appear unworthy.
If we are to love one another as Jesus did, we would do well to pray for the rich not to change and sway things of this world necessarily, but rather to allow the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the most glorious of places. While we may continue to pray for the poor and assist them, it is my belief it’s the rich who need God’s forgiveness, guidance and mercy the most. In the end, that’s what we ought to wish for everyone.