Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

I need wisdom, and fast. I have a challenge before me. It’s a good thing – actually too much of a good thing. I need wisdom and perspective beyond my own capacity to make the right decision between two good options. The Bible says I can ask God and he’ll give me wisdom. I believe this. But I also find myself tempted to add something more to the request: A promise, for instance, a way to sweeten the deal, to tempt God that it’s really to his advantage to grant this plea.

Truth be told, God wants to grant my request not as a payment or a trade but because he loves me. That’s enough. But somehow, I just don’t believe this. It’s “too good to be true.”

Here’s another bit on the subject from my book, “Six Prayers God Always Answers.”  

Haggling works with us, so we believe it works with God. This is a big misunderstanding of his character. Maybe he tolerates our bargaining because he hopes something greater will occur in the process of bargaining, just as it did with Abraham. The result of Abraham’s negotiation with God was not saving the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. But perhaps Abraham’s reward was confirmation that God cares about him, is willing to listen, and that his thoughts are worthy of God’s consideration.

Could it be that God bargains not for the outcome of the negotiation, but that the process of negotiating is God’s way of bargaining with us for something greater?

God isn’t in the business of selling chits, one-time favors, or bargains. He is in the business of transforming lives for his own glory. God seems to be saying that the bargains are peripheral and he’s happy to engage us in conversation about them, but ultimately, there is only one thing he is willing to trade for–our life.

No savvy seller sells at a loss.

God won’t, either.

To do a straight-up bargain where we pay our fair share is to always leave God with a loss because the outcome isn’t what he is after. We try to win God’s favor by bargaining with what we think he wants. God’s answer: He will deal but only if it’s big–everything for everything. “I give all, you give all!” He wants our life. He is the only one who fully understands what it costs and is willing to pay for it.

God haggles only because we insist on haggling.

He prefers that we just give up the negotiating–that we give it all up and give it to him. If we stop trying to take control of our life, our situations, and things, if instead we offer them to him, he makes some amazing promises in return. He will take care of all our needs. He will give us eternal life. He will deliver us from evil. He will love us unconditionally. 

When we exchange our all for his all, it is then we can ask and receive. And we will receive exceedingly more than we bargained for.

If you’re tempted to bargain with God, are you ready to play high stakes, all for all? Are you ready to believe that God really wants to do far more for you than you want him to do? Can you believe he’s that good?

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus