When Money Fails

I know little about economics, perhaps less than most. I do know when I hear scary stuff on television, though I know television likes to scare us (it keeps us watching). Nonetheless, I can’t help but notice that, world-wide, various markets are in a bit of a panic – and if not panic – at least they recognize a crisis when they see one.

One of the great difficulties in our modern world is the fact that it is built so firmly on the continued stability and growth of economies. Again, I confess my ignorance about economic theory. However, I do know that although we must work and eat and engage in most of things that make up economies, such activity can easily become the center of life. Whenever that center ceases to be stable, then we find ourselves shaken to the core. In my parents’ life the two great events were the Great Depression and the Second World War. One is unlikely without the other. Thus a time of world-wide anxiety is a time of increased danger, and thus should be a time for increased prayer.

There are some who will look at the collapse of a market as the just desert of those with whom they disagree. But inevitably the victims of world-wide tragedies are always the weakest. The strong and the rich almost never seem to starve. All the more reason for prayer – may God protect the helpless!

Money is only one of many intangibles upon which our world rests. Our culture gods are far more flimsy than one would expect. In the Scriptures, within the Revelation of St. John, the angel cries, “Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen.” Thus it is with the world – things that seem to be great are not so great and things that seem to be of little value are of great value.

It has been a commonplace within Orthodox spiritual thought to believe that the continued existence and well-being of the world depends first on the goodness of God, but secondly on the prayers of but a few righteous souls (known only to God). It is the math of Sodom and Gomorrah (whom God would have spared for the sake of ten righteous souls).

I do not believe it to be the case that those few righteous souls are aware of the value of their prayer. Such a burden is too much for the pride of man. But it also says that no one should undervalue the prayers they offer for the world.

As the world shakes (yet again), Christians must be about prayer – not about “I told you so” or other comments that proceed from something less than mercy. Let God save souls. Let us pray. The first activity is never ascribed to man in the Scriptures. The second is a commandment from God.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





17 responses to “When Money Fails”

  1. Philippa Alan (aka Athanasia) Avatar
    Philippa Alan (aka Athanasia)

    The economic news and election are causing me anxiety, which I battle with anyway. Add to that family stress…and well, you know where I am going. All which leads to depression, which I feel coming on. It has been a struggle to pray. I force myself to pray. Even if it for two minutes of standing in front of my icon corner to say the Lord’s prayer and fall to a prostration and groan “Lord have mercy.”

    I hope God hears me and is not angry at my weakness.

  2. fatherstephen Avatar

    Phillippa Alan,

    In a sense the enemy doesn’t care what happens in the world as long as it grinds us down. The politicians don’t care as long as they win. The media doesn’t care as long as we watch. Nobody cares but Jesus, to paraphrase the old spiritual. Which is why we should forget those who do not care and give thanks to Him who does. May God give you grace and I know He is not angry at our weakness. He knows our weakness. It’s our strength that gets us in trouble anyway.

  3. Robert Avatar

    what strikes me as absurd is that we people think we are exempt from the laws of nature, and we learn it appears nothing from history….what goes up must come down….inflated prices, greed and unchecked materialism all come at a price.

    sad deal – pray we must

  4. Margaret Avatar

    Thank you for your encouragement to pray! Indeed, every time I feel too guilty or down-trodden about anything to pray about it, God is helping me to pray about it! It is a spiritual warfare and I am so thankful that Fr. Stephen is in it to encourage us!

  5. clary Avatar

    I’m amazed that it is just now that every talk show program is addressing the shift of mind we should all have and that is to live within our means. This economic meltdown has been going on for three years but everyone thought it would get better and now realized it’s only getting worst. I have done all I can do and like you reminded us here we need to pray more in order to survive emotionally from all of this pressure and financial struggle.

  6. Subdeacon Eusebios Avatar
    Subdeacon Eusebios

    Fr. Stephen,
    Fr. bless,
    Thank you for the simple yet wise words of admonition. LOrd have mercy.
    His unworthy servant,

  7. Ezekiel Avatar

    Prayer, fasting and repentance, staples of life for us, don’t change when the situation in the world does. I find that praying the Hours, the Jesus Prayer and seeking Christ give strength and comfort in these days.

    I don’t listen much to the news, or to talk radio …. it seems that everyone is about crying the alarm … without realizing that we’ve been headed on this course for three decades.

    We learn in these times that our only Hope and Life is Christ … and that He is indeed in our midst!


  8. […] On…Glory to God for All Things […]

  9. Mairs Avatar

    Thanks for articulating my thoughts so concisely.

  10. […] Stephen, an Orthodox Priest, over at Glory to God for All Things wrote an interesting post about the danger of a time like this. One of the great difficulties in our modern world is the fact […]

  11. orthodoxathlete Avatar

    “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:11-13

    This is a hard saying. Lord have mercy on us all!

  12. Karen C Avatar
    Karen C

    Father bless! Orthodoxathlete and Fr. Stephen, a hearty AMEN to all you have said. I’m convicted again of the poverty of my prayer and self-discipline. Pray for me. May the Lord indeed have mercy upon the majority population of this world–the poor–who will suffer most from what is ultimately my laziness, my neglect, my distraction and love of comfort which has far and away exceeded my love of God. I know I am complicit, in my own ways, in the worst sins of this nation and world. May the Lord have mercy on me and grant me full repentance!

  13. fatherstephen Avatar

    May God keep us all.

  14. luciasclay Avatar

    An excellent post Father.

    We can live without so much of what we have today. I have lived in some pretty poor environments and some pretty rich ones. Neither happiness nor God is a function of material goods.

  15. Jordan Avatar

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