Lately, I have noticed more and more posts about God from my friends regarding our personal needs and wants. These articles generally fall into one of two categories. In one corner, I see articles promising your best life now. They assure healings, blessings and more if you just come to their ‘revivals,’ buy their books or attend their services. The other camp claim that God interest lies square in His own holiness first and foremost. It’s not about us! It’s all about Jesus! These articles stop short of telling you never to ask God for what you want or need in life, but they come very close. Which approach is right?
I believe that if we look to the Bible, we see that neither approach is right, but neither is fully wrong, either. In the Old Testament, God clearly had a plan for the Israelites having to do with bringing His Son into the World in a way that would most glorify Him. No matter what the Israelites did, they were predestined to move in that direction, ultimately. God’s plan was not contingent upon their obedience or decisions they made. Ultimately sovereign in all things, God’s will came to pass and He was glorified as a result.
At the same time, there are MANY passages in the Old Testament, instructing the Israelites to follow the Law. Many of them made it clear that if they worshiped God first, and loved Him above all else, they would experience blessings of all types. God loves His people, and when they broke His heart, He gave them many chances to come back into His Grace, and by extension, become blessed in ways that were clearly worldly.
Those who argue God’s focus on His Glory first will often point out that the disciples, closest to Jesus, hardly experienced their best life now. Nearly all of them died some pretty grisly deaths, and they walked closest to Jesus.
However, they glaze over those verses where Jesus taught that we can go to the Father in all things, as well as performed a miracle or two that clearly showed that His heart was moved by their needs and wants. My very first study into the seven miracles of Jesus in the book of John, turning water to wine for a party, bears this out. Jesus makes it clear that His time had not yet come. Yet, because His mother asked, Jesus was moved, and did just that.
Jesus gives us one of the best examples, directly. Let’s look at Matthew 26.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus clearly knew what God’s Will held for His future. Understandably, Jesus did not want to experience the pain, agony and sorrow that accompanied what must be done. Jesus prayed to His Father about his wants, but made it clear in the end the desire that not His Will, but God’s Will be done. Like many spiritual things, the answer lies between a perplexing combination of two seemingly opposing viewpoints. We can go to the Father with our struggles, our needs, and even our wants. He hears us, and will answer us. However, because sometimes His answer is ‘no’, we must always be willing to approach the throne with our requests with the understanding that “not our will, but as YOU will, Father.”