Manipulating Our Maker?

“If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14

It’s tempting for some of us to view our Lord as a heavenly “Mr. Fix‐It”—a supernatural problem solver who can be manipulated according to our whims. We might make a little wager on our favorite football team and then pray for God to intervene so our team will win. Or on the day of the church picnic, we might pray for a rainstorm so we don’t have to fix that potato salad we promised to bring.

Others see prayer as a negotiating tool. They want to make a deal with God: “Lord, if You give me this promotion at work… or allow me to get pregnant this month…or let that car at the dealership still be on sale… then I promise I’ll do [fill in the blank] for You.”

Of course these are foolish bargains that reveal a misunderstanding of the majesty of God. He is Lord of lords, King of kings, and Creator of all heaven and earth. He is not a deal maker who allows Himself to be manipulated. Instead, He wants us to carefully consider His will for our lives before we pray. Prayer is a privilege—a direct line to the Lord’s eternal wisdom and love. Let’s not forget what a blessing it is just to come into His presence.

Just between us…

  • Have you ever tried to manipulate God through prayer?
  • How can we be sure our prayer petitions are within God’s will?
  • Do our prayers include adoration, devotion, and intercession, or do they represent merely a daily “wish list”?
  • How might our relationship change if we focused on prayer from

God’s perspective?

Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of bringing our requests to You. Give us a deep desire for Your will—not ours—for our marriage, and help us to shape our prayers and our priorities accordingly. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bible Gateway

Manipulating Our Maker?

“If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14

It’s tempting for some of us to view our Lord as a heavenly “Mr. Fix‐It”—a supernatural problem solver who can be manipulated according to our whims. We might make a little wager on our favorite football team and then pray for God to intervene so our team will win. Or on the day of the church picnic, we might pray for a rainstorm so we don’t have to fix that potato salad we promised to bring.

Others see prayer as a negotiating tool. They want to make a deal with God: “Lord, if You give me this promotion at work… or allow me to get pregnant this month…or let that car at the dealership still be on sale… then I promise I’ll do [fill in the blank] for You.”

Of course these are foolish bargains that reveal a misunderstanding of the majesty of God. He is Lord of lords, King of kings, and Creator of all heaven and earth. He is not a deal maker who allows Himself to be manipulated. Instead, He wants us to carefully consider His will for our lives before we pray. Prayer is a privilege—a direct line to the Lord’s eternal wisdom and love. Let’s not forget what a blessing it is just to come into His presence.

Just between us…

  • Have you ever tried to manipulate God through prayer?
  • How can we be sure our prayer petitions are within God’s will?
  • Do our prayers include adoration, devotion, and intercession, or do they represent merely a daily “wish list”?
  • How might our relationship change if we focused on prayer from

God’s perspective?

Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of bringing our requests to You. Give us a deep desire for Your will—not ours—for our marriage, and help us to shape our prayers and our priorities accordingly. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bible Gateway

Self-Discipline – Day 14

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Today’s reading is drawn from 2 Timothy 1:7.

Because of Timothy’s natural inclination to timidity, Paul was prompted to encourage his fellow worker to maintain a holy boldness and assurance in his position of spiritual leadership. Paul had commissioned Timothy to oversee many of the churches in the Roman province of Asia, and this task required “power, love and self-discipline.” Self-discipline is needed to stretch us beyond our own comfort zones and areas of personal inertia. For some, the needed discipline will be more in the realm of the emotions; for others the focus of self-control will be in the realm of the mind or of the will.

Writing to the Galatians, Paul said that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). While people without Christ can exercise self-control, this quality in its fullest expression of character transformation is a part of the spiritual fruit that only the Holy Spirit can produce.

Self-discipline is seldom easy. Paul’s words to Timothy reveal that this young man probably struggled with it in his ministry. And most leaders who come across the need for more self-discipline in their lives struggle at times as well. But read Paul’s instruction to Timothy again in this passage, and let it sink in and empower you in the areas in which you most need help. God’s Spirit is the power source behind self-discipline. Timothy evidently found that out, and so can you.

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