Too often we pray and tell God very specifically what we want, or what we’d like to see happen. Then we get mad or hurt or feel betrayed if He doesn’t do exactly what we’ve said. We need to bear in mind though that God is God, and we are not. He sees things we don’t and He makes decisions based on a complete picture (while we do not).
Years ago during a teaching from Kirk Bennett of IHOP-KC, he shared a profound statement that’s stuck with me – it’s a good reminder for us all: God cannot be manipulated or controlled.
In our prayer life it isn’t wrong to pray for specific things, but we need to remember to pray and then release it to God. He has a perspective we don’t. We need to trust Him to do what’s best. Years ago I was dating someone who I desperately wanted to marry. I prayed about it all the time. Looking back I am INCREDIBLY grateful God didn’t answer those prayers the way I asked! He knew better. He had perspective I did not.
I realize not every situation is as clear. There are other times that we may not look back and immediately see God’s plan. I have a dear friend who we prayed for healing for, but instead God brought her home to heaven. I confess I don’t understand that situation at all. But even when I don’t understand, I still have to trust Him. I cannot make an idol out of my need to understand. God has no obligation to explain His actions to me.
This brings to mind Job 38, where God calls Job on this very thing. “Now, prepare yourself and gather your courage like a warrior. Prepare yourself for the task at hand. I’ll be asking the questions, now— you will supply the answers. Where were you when I dug and laid the foundation of the earth? Explain it to me, if you are acquainted with understanding” Job 38:3-4 (VOICE).
If we are honest with ourselves and take the time to trace back to the root of our desire to “want to understand,” we will typically find that in reality we want to judge whether we agree with the choice that has been made. But who are we to judge God? Again, God is God and we are not. He has perspective we do not. And for us to live a true life of faith requires trust. Trusting our care to His hands. As I shared in a previous post, living with an “Expectation of Good (Hebrews 11:6),” we need to believe that His intentions towards us are good.
Beloved, when you cry out to Me, I always hear. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, I AM always listening. I do not turn a deaf ear to you in punishment or neglect. Those who know Me know that does not align with My character.
Just as an earthly parent uses wisdom in granting their children’s requests, so do I. In the moments I don’t respond the way you expected, know that is not a sign of My neglect, but rather of your inappropriate expectations. I’m not a genie in a bottle to call and command, so be sure that is not your expectation.
What I AM is El Chai – the Living God, and I love My children, and am mindful of their needs and their cries – of all things concerning them. So know that I AM present and listening. I will never leave you nor forsake you. So cry out to Me, beloved, for I AM listening.
So let’s be intentional to manage our expectations in our relationship with God (I talk more about this in my post “The Impact of Expectations (How-to Manage Your Expectations)”). Pray and submit to His perfect will. Trust God’s heart toward us. Release any desire to manipulate or control, and simply yield.