“For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord your God, and according to all that the Lord your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.'” — Jeremiah 42:20
When Br’er Rabbit got stuck on the Tar Baby and fell victim to Br’er Fox he “prayed” repeatedly that Br’er Fox wouldn’t throw him into the briar patch. But that “prayer” was a ruse because the briar patch was exactly where Br’er Rabbit wanted to go!
Is it possible that our prayers can be just as self-serving? I believe in our generation, the answer to that question is, “Yes!” We are living in a self-serving, self-centered generation.
Conscientious believers are always in prayer that God will lead them. That seems particularly true when it comes to making crucial life decisions: What job? What marriage? Which school? Which church? Where should we live? What house?
There could hardly have been a more vital need for God’s direction than in the aftermath of Jerusalem’s destruction. It is not surprising that the ragtag remnant would seek out Jeremiah to learn God’s will in the matter. “Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do,” they implored. Yet quite unbelievably when Jeremiah conveyed God’s message that they were not to go down into Egypt, they called Jeremiah a liar and went anyway!
As it subsequently appears, the only reason these folks went to Jeremiah in the first place was in hopes of getting God’s blessing for what they had already decided to do. If that sounds crass, or arrogant, or stupid, have we ourselves ever been guilty of doing the same thing?
When we pray for God’s direction, do our own plans ever become the answer we are really after? If so, we deserve whatever true briar patch we get thrown into, and it won’t be the comfortable briar patch we were hoping for!
I was thinking: when I ask God to lead me, are His options my only options, or am I truly willing to be flung into whatever circumstance He chooses? Praying my plans can only be described as hypocrisy. Prayer is not just a “seeking of leadership” but also a “surrender to Lordship!”