Whatever You Say, God

For some of us, prayer tends to be seen as a little meal request card at a bed and breakfast. We do the obligatory bowing every night before we go to bed and then we compliment God for a couple minutes to butter him up for all of our requests. And then, when we do not get exactly what we want, we get angry at God and say that He must not exist.

The problem is that we think we know what we need before we even bow our heads. We are often not willing to admit that God’s will is best and turn against Him when He makes it clear to us through providence or the written Scripture that His will for us is contrary to what we want. There are times at which we all feel resentment toward God – we do not always know why God allows family members to die from illness or accident, we do not know why God withholds worldly blessings from us even though we may be starving, we do not know why God does what He does (“How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Romans 11:33).

Indeed, the people of Judah did not understand this concept either! Turn in your Bibles to Jeremiah 42:4-6, 10-16, 43:1-2. The remnant of Judah, after the conquest of Nebuchadnezzar, wanted to know what the will of God was with regard to their future. They asked Jeremiah to inquire of God about the matter, insisting that they would be faithful and accept whatever the message from God happened to be, whether it was good or bad. Jeremiah responded that it was God’s judgment that they should stay in Judah and trust in God, that the Babylonians would do them no harm if they simply obeyed this edict. The people were unhappy with the message and fled to Egypt, where, as history would have it, most of them were slaughtered when the Chaldean army invaded only a few years later.

This is an example of a group of individuals who thought they were coming to God with the right attitude, asking only to know what His will for them would be. And at the Word of God they should have been happy. After all, it is not as though God was commanding them to do anything extreme or terribly impossible. Their only command was to stay in Judah and trust in God’s protection – protection that has always been there at times that they were faithful and righteous.

Do we sometimes do the same thing today? We find from Jeremiah 42:19-21 that the people knew what they wanted to hear before they even asked Jeremiah to pray for them. And they had made up their mind that there was only one acceptable answer to that prayer. They wanted God to acquiesce to their desires and comply with their will, instead of the other way around.