As Christians, we all come to God in prayer with our needs and desires because we believe that He will deliver us from our sorrows, heal our bodies and bless us. Unfortunately, when some of us ask God for things, we are compelled to tell Him what to do and how to do it. We’re taught to “come boldly to the throne of grace”—(Hebrews 4:16), and so we feel that it means it’s okay for us to tell God how to do what we want Him to do for us. Some of us feel as if it’s our right to just tell God what to do for us. This attitude is more of self-righteousness than of humility, and it’s one that the Lord won’t bless.
Apostle Paul is telling us in Hebrews chapter 4 that when we’re saved we can come to God in prayer and know that He will hear us because Jesus has taken away our sins, and so we stand before God wearing His righteousness. We don’t have to be afraid of God; we can come boldly to God’s throne of grace because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Paul tells us that Jesus was tempted in all the things that challenge us so He knows what we’re going through, and He has the power to make things right. He is involved in our lives and He wants us to know that we belong to Him and that we can come to Him whenever we want.
Many Christians forget that we have limited knowledge no matter how intelligent we think we are. God, on the other hand, is omnipotent and He knows everything and sees the full picture. His answers to our prayers may be very different from what we expect them to be and we need to learn to trust Him.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.—Proverbs 3:5
It’s somewhat surprising to realize how many Christians buy lottery tickets with the hope that they’ll win and end all of their financial problems. They pray and ask the Lord to bless their ticket, and then continue to speak out in faith and quote scriptures such as Matthew 21:22 that says, “whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive”. They actually believe that God should bless them so they can win. And when God doesn’t make them winners, they get discouraged with Him and question His words of promise.
We cannot tell God how to do things because He sees the big picture and knows it all. He sees why our finances are in bad shape and His solution will be to fix the problem and not to just cover the symptoms. Perhaps it’s our negative attitude and lack of responsibility, poor spending habits, an inefficient job, very lavish lifestyle, status selfishness or even sinful spending that has led to our financial destruction. He knows that our lack of finances is not our real problem, but that it’s the result of a greater problem, and He knows that pouring excess money onto us is not going to change that problem. It will make it worse.
Telling God how to answer our prayers initiates two major problems that can destroy our relationship with Him.
The first issue is that when we tell God what to do, we are raising ourselves up to be equal with Him instead of being submissive to Him. We become self-righteous when we feel justified in telling God how to do something. It proves that we have total disrespect and lack of reverence for the God of Heaven, and that we likely aren’t even saved.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.—Romans 10:3
We need to understand that the righteousness we bear is His righteousness, not our own. We are sinners who have been forgiven because God loves us so much that He went to the cross in our place to have those sins removed. We are covered with His blood and not with our own good works. We have not earned the right to come to God and demand things from Him. We have been forgiven through His grace because without it we are all deserving of punishment for our sins.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.—Ephesians 2:8
The second issue is that when we pray, we need to pray according to His will—and we’ll only know His will if we study the scriptures and learn it. When God doesn’t bless us the way we tell Him to, then we assume that He doesn’t answer our prayers and that our stand in faith was in vain. But the fact is, we have not prayed according to His will; we have prayed according to our own will (possibly even lust or desire). When we pray according to His will, God answers us.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.—John 15:7
Faith is a trust and a confidence that we have in the Lord. If we love Him and trust Him, then we can come to Him in prayer because we know that God wants what is best for us. He sees the big picture and He wants us to prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers—(3 John 1:2). God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us with an unconditional love, so He will always do the best things for us—but always according to His will.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:14-16