20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
One of the greatest hindrances in a Christians life, is his own self. I’m not talking about his or her playing with sin; but far more the ‘yoke’ of expectation of we place upon ourselves, or the ideologies we limit God with. Perhaps one of these, is that found in “prayer”; with the use of the words – “Lord will do this or that, if it be Thy will”. The key emphasis there – is “if it be Thy will”.
Consider a husband whose wife has just gone into labour; both saved Christians, firm believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning work. The midwife and nurses do their best, but it appears that the child who though has been “delivered” is experiencing duress and has gone into ICU. The midwife approaches the husband and there pronounces that it is likely that their newborn child given by God, is likely to “die”. One then pictures the husband getting on his knees when alone, and beseeching the LORD for this precious life that the LORD has given them as a couple. I can almost here the husband saying “oh Lord save my child if it be your will”.
What We Do:
This enactment of events though imaginary, is illustrative of the approach Christians take before a God who delights in the impossible. We bind up God, and His power, and our understanding of Him; by our pre-conceived notions. The reason we pray – “Lord please do this, IF IT BE THY WILL”; it simply because earnestly we desire to do that which is right before God, not going against Him; but more so to fall in line with scripture. That is good reason. However, there is also a far greater question of “faith” – as we are not sure if God will deliver or not. The above approach is not “blasphemous” neither is it an ill-doctrine; but it brings no peace, and it definitely doesn’t allow confidence in God, nor God to show Himself in the impossible.
Consider Joshua and the many battles He fought in claiming the inheritance of Canaan, the many armies they fought starting from Joshua 2-13. We note in Joshua 7, that during the “war” with Ai, Israel was sorely beaten; despite them being promised “victory” over all their enemies by God, and an assurance of the land that God had given them. In Joshua 7 we see Joshua fall upon His face and cry out to the Lord, besieging Him for help and understanding as to why the Lord would let them (Israel) be defeated. It is from that we see, Joshua learning that God had indeed “promised” and had not failed to deliver on it (later in the chapter) but there was sin in the “camp”.
The first reason why we limit God by our prayers, and lack the confidence to earnestly beseech Him in “faith” – is because we lack “purity of heart”. But far more the point of this short essay if you will, is not the sin that was in the camp (Achan), but far more that despite all the lessons Joshua learnt about being “strong and of a good courage” – they culminate in the absolute “faith” He had in God’s deliverance for Israel, and their conquering of the enemies. The height of this is seen in Joshua Chapter 10, when Joshua calls for God to stop the Sun and the Moon. Wow? Scripture goes on to say “And there was no day like that before it or after it; that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man”. Now that’s a statement!
Now I am not saying that we should command that of God; that was the personal relationship between Joshua and God; also it says in that very verse, that there will be no day greater than it – when a man should by “faith” ask of God.
What I am saying, is that when we PRAY, “Lord please do this and that, IF IT BE THY WILL”; we in a sense conform God to the laws of science and limit Him to what we conceive as imaginable or even “doable”. Faith is not one’s own “power of belief” to do the impossible; it’s “one’s belief in the power of God” to do the impossible.
Right throughout Joshua, we see a man who yes was a bit shaken in certain circumstances; but He learnt through the trying of His faith, to “believe” in the power of God, and to go into battle despite the odds or size of the enemy; despite the darkness of the hour and situation, and just “trust God”. Oh dear friend; faith rides into battle never considering the outcome, but only the LORD GOD and His Word, trusting and never doubting it.
Often times we doubt God because of our desire for a good outcome – that is; we tend towards the negative, to prepare our minds for the possibility that God might not deliver or it might not be His will, and so we play both sides. It is not for us to doubt God’s deliverance or His hand in doing the impossible, that’s left up to Him; He will ultimately decide because He is ultimately Sovereign.
The point friend, if it’s not clear enough; we need to simply believe who God is; ask Him for that we need; to believe Him to do the impossible, and to trust Him by faith; as we see it in scripture! Let God be God; and let God decide the outcome!