Do you ever go to prayer with a list of requests? I do. Sometimes the list is overwhelming to me. I get lost in all the problems and forget who God is. I even feel that I need to come up with the solutions and simply ask God to implement them for me. Imagine that! I’m coming up with the solutions to the world’s problems and bringing them to the King of the Universe; I’m asking for His sanction of my strategy as if I am the one in control.
Why do we feel we must come to the Father with our requests and bring the strategy to the table too? Is it because we don’t think God can figure it out? Is it because we have chosen to take on the burdens of this broken world instead of casting them upon Him? Do we think God doesn’t have time to come up with a solution? Whatever the reason, it is presumptuous of us to think that we can carry these burdens much less know how to solve them. That’s turning our prayer life into a stressful encounter! Isn’t the problem we are facing stressful enough? We need a better approach!
King Jehoshaphat, who was king of Judah, heard that three large people groups were coming to wage war with him and his kingdom. This army was so vast and Israel so small. There was no way or time to come up with a strategy to beat this conquest that was on its way. So what does King Jehoshaphat do? He inquires of the Lord. Does he bring his problem to God? Yes. But does he bring his solution? No. He says to the Lord, “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
King Jehoshaphat understood how to pray. Jesus taught us the proper way to approach God, “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:10). “Your will be done…” is speaking to His commands, His desire, His choice, His idea, and His strategy…not ours. We are to come to God with a full heart of love for Him and empty plans for our situation. A full heart of devotion to God and empty plans for his situation is the approach King Jehoshaphat came to God with. Because King Jehoshaphat did not see himself as higher than God, he was able to give himself fully to God’s will.
When our plans are in the equation, we are striving for glory. And striving does not equal success. It equals failure. God is on the throne, we are not. We are His servants, His vessels of light who are to shine forth Him, not us. He is the name to be praised. It is His will held high. The more we love His heart, the more we want His will to be done, not ours.
When we come to God in prayer with our agenda, we have not come with a full heart of devotion. We have come with a full heart of pride. And we wonder why we are so tired. Pride makes people weary. We can’t handle the problems of the universe. We can barely handle our daily schedules. We must come to Jesus with an open mind and empty plans. Our heart must be pruned and ready to receive whatever His will is. Then we will know true success that reaches beyond whatever we can imagine. We will know rest in the midst of faith.
Jesus said so clearly to His disciples, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” (John 12:21). Keeping His commands is keeping His will. As we learned earlier the word “will” means commands. And if we are not empty of our agenda, God will prune us. He may even cut us off. For Jesus said, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit (does not align itself with My will), He takes it away; and every branch that bears fruit (that partially aligns itself with My will), He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit (where My will is fully realized)” (John 15:2) emphasis added.
God is in the business of giving us His full revelation. But often we short change ourselves by coming to Him with our revelation. Could it be that our churches are not growing to the degree they could because we are bearing some fruit instead of His full will? Could it be that our children or our marriage is suffering because we have decided the solution to the problem, instead of inquiring of the Lord for His solution? Could it be that our challenges are still challenges because we have refused to humble ourselves to the Lord and simply say, “I don’t know what to do!”? It’s okay to not know what to do. It’s okay to not have the strategy in place. God is not our employer. Yes, He is sovereign and certainly over us, but in His sovereignty He is also our Father. Our Father is the one we look to for solutions, for help and for guidance.
Do you know what God told King Jehoshaphat to do? Do you know what His strategy was for Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel? It was to worship. Yes, to worship! That was the strategy! And “as they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (2 Chronicles 20:22).
God calls us to love Him. To worship Him. To rest in His power, not our ability. The battles we fight every day are not ours to fight. They are His. And in His good time, He will either give us the solution to act upon, or He will demolish the problem Himself. The key is to seek His will! To pray for heaven to come to our situation. The goal is to reflect heaven in our churches, our families and our problems. God is the one to be manifested. And when we can hold Him up with this high regard, we will stand and see the deliverance of the Lord in our lives!
How has this different approach to prayer changed your situation? How does this relax your spirit and help you rest in God’s great power? I’d love to hear from you!