I would like to consider with you one response we might receive from the Lord when we pray and what impact our reaction can have on our lives. It can be a real struggle to even open up to the Lord, but even greater change can occur when we listen to his voice and act accordingly.
Read Jeremiah 42:9-19
In this passage in the book of Jeremiah, the Hebrew people had pleaded for mercy and sought direction from the Lord. They looked to the prophet Jeremiah for direction. They were currently residing in a dangerous situation in Babylon. They had been planning on relocating to Egypt, which seemed like a logical and safe place at the time. They went to the Lord having analyzed their situation, which is appropriate, and then seeking God’s final approval. They were then completely devastated when the Lord responded with a clear and resounding “no.”
It is not incorrect to analyze, think and make decisions—the Lord has called us to do so. However, it is inappropriate to come before the Lord, assuming that our analysis should be what convinces or guides His answer. There may be times when the Lord does direct us to make choices by guiding this process, but we must be open, not only to ask, but to obey His answers to us.
In this passage, the Lord gave a response that was contrary to that which had been most logical in the eyes of the Hebrews. Oftentimes, the biggest struggle that we face in our day to day is giving up our own ways which seem logical, the schemas we have constructed, and the processes we’ve established. Instead, we must, by faith, choose to accept that our God has every authority in our lives to speak, even when it feels out of turn.
As human beings, we have been educated to understand our environments and draw conclusions based on our findings, and that decisions that are unsubstantiated by some form of evidence should be discarded. When coming before the Lord, we must recognize that though this process is good, it is also insufficient. We do not have the means, nor the capacity to gather the full extent of information needed to draw conclusions that could challenge the direction of the Lord. Accepting a word contrary to that which makes most sense, when guided by the Lord, is an act of obedience and, in turn, adoration to the Lord.
The Hebrews in this passage were given an opportunity to demonstrate their faithfulness and obedience by accepting God’s answer. The Lord blessed them by giving them direction, as well as explaining what would happen should they choose obey or disobey his word. Their disobedience led to their demise.
The Lord may not always explain why he is guiding us away from what seems to be the most sensible. Let me encourage you to remember that obeying, even when His answer is no, protects us and provides us with an opportunity to testify the Lord’s greatness.