Most Christ followers can fill in the rest without even looking up Jeremiah 29:11. The context is not important, after all aren’t all verses in the Bible about me? I have now removed my tongue from my cheek. This is a verse used most often to provide a sense of calm and peace during the storm. The only problem is, this verse isn’t a promise to individuals and was never meant to be a help to us in times of trouble.
Taking this verse out of its context can lead to expectations that are not in line with God’s intentions for our lives on earth. That being said, even out of context it can be properly applied to eternal life. God’s plan is not to harm us but to save us, that’s why He sent Jesus. His plan also includes a prosperity that reaches far beyond any human descriptions. Those who believe will live forever without want or need.
Not to be outdone by out of context interpretations, I will now push it even further out of context.
Have you ever laughed at your own prayers? Some of you know what I am talking about. The rest of you are either appalled that anyone would laugh during such a holy interaction or wondering what type of person thinks they are so funny that even their prayers contain some sort of comedic quality.
Think what you want but I have laughed out loud at some of the things I have said to God. I am just thankful that this has only taken place during my private prayer time not during prayer meeting or leading a church service. This sudden outburst is brought on by the realization that I have spent much of my prayer time explaining to God how things need to be addressed. Talk about way out of context, I am telling God I know the plans I have for you.
If God would only hear me out I think He would see the benefit of the solution I am proposing.
Buried in my detailed explanation of the situation, my pleas for help and my paraphrased quotes from scripture lies my outline of how God would best address this situation for His glory – then I laugh. Often I follow it with “let me explain to you, the Perfect One, how this should be done.” Then I remove my tongue from my cheek as I have heard that when being struck by holy lightening it is best not to have your tongue anywhere near your teeth in case you bite it off.
Returning to the out of context scripture we started with, have you ever told God, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future? I have. I may not be using these words but I sometimes catch myself selling God on my idea. This will further reveal your power or allow me to reveal you to others if you do it my way, is at the core of my prayer. In other words, if we do it my way there will be no harm but instead you will prosper, there is hope in my plans and a great future if you follow my way.
I hope God has a sense of humour, if not I am in trouble.
I can’t quote it or even find it. I can’t even take a scripture and pull it so far out of context that it backs me up. There is nothing to suggest that God has a good belly laugh when I say stupid things, as a matter of fact I can’t be sure that He isn’t reading my blog right now and shaking His head in disgust. I do know that God’s judgement is gracious and merciful and He looks into my heart to see who I truly am. My best guess is my tell God how it should work prayers elicit a mixed response.
I can picture God laughing at how silly it is for my imperfection to be telling His perfection how to operate. I can also picture Him shedding a tear because I have still not grasped that He and therefore His plans, are perfect. I just hope that when I place my tongue firmly in my cheek and say “let me explain to you, the Perfect One, how this should be done” God, my daddy in heaven, has a little sparkle in His eye as He sees that maybe, just maybe I am finally getting it.
Prayer is not a list of demands or instructions aimed at God:
- Do tell God what is going on. It isn’t that He doesn’t know, but rather, by doing this we admit that He needs to be the one dealing with it.
- Don’t assume that there are some things that are not His concern. Limiting your prayer life to what you consider the big things suggests that God is not interested in the rest and that you somehow don’t need Him in every situation.
- Do tell Him how you see it playing out. There is nothing wrong with telling God that there is a way you view the situation and an outcome you want to see. This honesty allows us to put our solution in His hands and say, “not my will but yours.”
- Don’t tell Him how to work it all out. Telling Him how you see it is saying I have an opinion. Telling Him how He should do it says I have the right way I just need your help.
He knows what you want before you ask – He had the solution before it even happened.
He has the perfect plan, the perfect way to execute that plan, the perfect timing for the plan and the best resources to carry out that plan.