Instead of trying to manipulate God, pray the prayer that gets answered

Many singles have been Christians all their lives, yet they still try to manipulate God in their prayers.

It's a trap we've all fallen into--and I was certainly guilty of it most of my life. We bargain, plead, promise, and give God all kinds of reasons why he should do things our way.

We read books about the "secrets" of prayer or look for some hidden formula that will let us boss God around, as if he's some sort of remote-controlled toy that we can steer if only we push the right buttons. But that's completely backwards of the way things really are.

Getting clear on
who's doing what

Somewhere we got the notion that praying is not so much asking as it is telling. Rather than being submissive to God's will, we think he should be submissive to our will.

Ouch!

We don't like to be submissive to anybody or anything, including God. We want to be independent, in charge, in command, rattling off orders and expecting them to be obeyed. What's funny is that things don't go like that in the physical world, so why would we expect them to be that way in the spiritual world?

While it's true that believers are joint heirs with Jesus and are adopted sons and daughters in the Kingdom, we're still not in the position to be tellers, but rather askers.

I don't know about you, but I didn't tell my Dad to do anything.

Why it's futile to try to manipulate God

It's a matter of acknowledging that God is in charge, not us. This is hard for most people to do. Because of our pride, we don't want to admit that everything we have came from God. We think we earned it through our own efforts. What a hoot!

Everything from our beating heart to our material possessions to our talents and abilities are gifts from God. When we believe that everything came our way because of our own efforts, we get uppity enough to think we can tell the Creator of the Universe that he better do our bidding and do it pretty darn fast.

Except God can't be fooled, and that's what we find so aggravating. We've managed to trick lots of people, so we think we can do it with God, too. The first folks who tried to hoodwink God were Adam and Eve. Even those two, who had an intimate, conversational relationship with God, thought they could bamboozle him.

It seems laughable when we read their excuses in Genesis 3:12-13, but we're pulling the same nonsense today.

Okay, how then?

After trying to manipulate God most of our lives, some of us finally realize that it doesn't work. If God can't be tricked or bullied, then how do we get our prayers answered?

It takes a change of perspective. When we stop trying to be the leader and understand that we're the follower, things start to turn around.

It also takes the realization that God knows what's best for me better than I do.

Now there's a tough pill to swallow. But it's the definition of spiritual maturity.

If there's a secret to prayer, that's it. Now that doesn't mean God will never give us anything we want. He will, but only if it's in his will for us.

We know when something is outside his will. It conflicts with God's revealed plan found in the Bible. Usually when we insist on our own way, even when it's wrong, we have to suffer the consequences.

Sooner rather than later

The sooner we understand that we can't manipulate God, the smoother our life will go. Some people--no, many people--live their entire life and never figure this out. Or they know it but are too stubborn to live by it.

Do yourself a favor. Stop trying to manipulate God. Stop trying all your devious devices on him. Put yourself in harmony with him, instead of the other way around.

Keep reading the Bible so you know how he thinks and what is important to him. Live the Ten Commandments as laws instead of suggestions. Read the Gospels and see how Jesus prayed. See that even he was submissive to his Father's will.

The prayer that gets answered is not "God, you have to do this," or "God, my life will be ruined if you don't do this," but:

"God, I'm trusting you to give me what is best for me in this situation, so please give me the wisdom to accept your decision."

When the truth that you can't manipulate God finally sinks it, life will become much clearer to you. You'll spare yourself a lot of anger and frustration, and you'll finally learn how to pray with real power.




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