“Do not try to bind the purposes of the Lord our God; for God is not like a human being, to be threatened, or like a mere mortal, to be won over by pleading. Therefore, while we wait for his deliverance, let us call upon him to help us, and he will hear our voice, if it pleases him.”
~Judith 8:16-17 (NRSV)
Apparently the story of Judith (set in the Sixth Century bce) was very popular and influential in Jesus’ time. This apocryphal book speaks of the courageous leadership of a woman prepared to fast and pray and wait on God’s perfect will. What is stated above is a timely reminder to honour God in prayer, by acknowledging, God’s hand will not be coerced.
Perhaps the most important part of the above two verses are the final four words—“if it pleases him.”
Being Totally Open To The Way Life Works Out
Honouring God in our prayers of pleading must certainly be about giving our concerns to him, without condition, and being totally open, then, to the way life works out.
Can we pray to God for a partner, believing that God can give us a partner, and then accept it if no partner comes?
Can we pray to God for a job, believing that God can give us the opportunity for a good career, and accept it if the great career doesn’t materialise?
We can add permeations of our own personal concerns in the method of the questions above. This is where faith becomes hardest: to allow God (as if we could control things anyway?) the latitude to bless us however he likes. Our spiritual mandate is to truly let go and be completely open to whatever eventuality God deems fit.
God, I am reasonably sure, could not ask anything harder of us than that. But this is what we are to aspire to: to honour God in our pleas by holding no condition over God, either within our prayers or within our lives.
A Hard-Reality Indicator For Spiritual Maturity
None of us likes this reality, deep within, I am sure. We believe, by faith, that God will hear our voice as we raise our pleas before him. But God may not hear our prayers in the affirmative. We may think that God has something better for us, if he won’t answer this particular prayer. That can help our faith.
But, God will bring to us those things that he has already planned for us.
In some situations of life we may say, “How could this possibly be part of God’s plan for me?” But God’s plan is not just the circumstances of life; it is also about the capacity and scope we have in responding to those circumstances. God’s plan is far more dynamic than we often realise. We don’t see the multiplicity of angles regarding how life will work out.
The hard-reality indicator of our spiritual maturity is the level of our acceptance of all that God gives and doesn’t give us.
The plea that honours God is given to God without expectation for an affirmative answer, but in faith that he will hear. When we pray by faith we accept God will act as it pleases him. God delivers us in accordance, always, with his perfect love.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.