It’s tempting to think we can “manipulate” God into giving us something better.
For example, have you ever prayed these kinds of prayers?
- Jesus, I have spent so much time on ministry, so please bless my work in 2018 …
- Jesus, I promise to give you the best 15 minutes of my day, now shower me with Your blessings …
We are not the followers of fickle-minded or careless gods. We don’t worship and make sacrifices to sweeten the tongues of smaller gods, who in turn give reports of our behaviour to bigger gods.
Our Most High God is not capricious – He does not change His mind on whims or fancies. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.
God will not be manipulated. It’s just not something we can do. He does not change like the shifting shadows (James 1:17). Consider this hard-hitting interpretation of Isaiah 1:11-17 from The Message version of the Bible:
“Why this frenzy of sacrifices?” God’s asking.
“Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of burnt sacrifices, rams and plump grain-fed calves? Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
“When you come before me, whoever gave you the idea of acting like this, running here and there, doing this and that — all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?
“Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings — meetings, meetings, meetings — I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out!
“I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening.
“And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
“Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenceless.”
God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He is neither fooled by our “charades” nor in need of help or motivation from us to do His thing.
He has already told us what is good and required of us: To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8). But don’t read that like a checklist of Key Performance Indicators: God isn’t interested in our performance. No, our primary work is simply to believe in Him.
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: To believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)
What matters to Him is we give our hearts to Him: Broken and contrite hearts (Psalm 51:16-17), hearts which He will continue to mould and perfect until Jesus comes again (Philippians 1:6).
There’s no more need to twist God’s arm for things. Just hold His hand, follow His heart and walk with Him. Seek first His righteousness.
And then all these things shall be added unto you.