TEXTS AND APPLICATION: Be honest — have you ever prayed after you had already decided what God’s answer should be? Chapter 42 of Jeremiah seems to illustrate that tendency.
The remnant left in Judah after the Babylonian victory requested a word from God — via Jeremiah — because they wanted to know the way they should go (Jer. 42:3). Particularly, they feared retaliation from Babylon since the murder of Gedeliah, the Babylon appointed governor of Judah (Jer. 40:7, 41:1-3). Jeremiah agreed to pray, and the people in turn gave this promise:
Jer. 42:6 Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will obey the voice of the our God to whom we are sending you so that it may go well with us. We will certainly obey the voice of the our God!
That’s not what they did, though. The word through Jeremiah was that the people were to stay in Judah, where God would be with them (Jer. 42:11). They apparently feared retaliation, though, and they instead chose to go to Egypt (Jer. 43:1-7).
The apparent ease with which they rejected the word from Jeremiah suggests they had already made up their minds what the answer from God should be — go to Egypt, where surely it would be safer. When they assumed God’s answer, they were willing to pledge obedience; when His answer was something different, they rejected God’s prophet and His word.
It really is easier to declare our obedience to God if we assume God’s calling will be what we want. Real obedience, though, speaks these words with absolute integrity: “whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will obey the voice of the Lord.” Even when His word is unpleasant, it’s still right and best.
Am I willing to pray accordingly? Are you?
PRAYER: “God, even if this prayer makes me anxious, give me faith to trust You. I will obey You whether Your call on my life is pleasant or unpleasant.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Jeremiah 46-48