“And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. And the Lord hearkened (listened) to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.”Numbers 21:2-3
I have heard stories in which people have made deals with the Lord, including making promises to do whatever it took to have their prayer answered. I have done this myself when I was a teen as I asked God if He would allow me to marry Rebekah that I would be a missionary to Mexico. God answered that prayer, but I have yet to become a missionary to Mexico. I used to get nervous around missions conference time, but I am now willing to do whatever God would have me to do. You may have a story of your own in which you made a “deal” with God. I have learned a thing or two since I made that promise as a naive and in-puppy-love sixteen year old.
I have come to realize that God does not need anything from me, and I have nothing that I can bargain with. Everything that I am, everything that I have, and everything I hope to be is because of Him. He is almighty God and who am I to say, “if you do this, then I will do that”? God is always pleased with obedience, and He will always bless obedience. He may not bless you in the way you may think, but our motive should be obedience to God and not a bribe to get what we want. I would like to think my motives were pure for wanting to marry Rebekah, but I must admit I was smitten by her blonde hair and blue eyes.
I have asked God for many things in my life, and many of those things were selfish and self-serving. I did not always ask for a closer walk with God or opportunities to lead others to Christ. I have asked for possessions, money, and even a better job. I tried to make promises to Him that I thought would benefit Him as well as me, and I now realize how naive I was. How can one make a deal with the Almighty? How does one bargain with One who possesses? Satan foolishly tried to tempt Jesus with that which He already had. We should be careful how we pray to God.
Israel made a promise to God that if He would help them defeat their enemy, the Canaanites, they would utterly destroy the cities God delivered to them. God listened to their prayer and helped His people defeat their enemies, but He was in no way obligated to do so, just as He is not obligated to answer us in the way we want. God was able to destroy His enemies on His own and He did not need His people, but He chose to use them to accomplish His will. He answered their prayer and the children of Israel had the victory. I am thankful that God hears our cry even when we try to make a deal with the God that needs nothing from us.
What about you? Are you asking God for something just so you can fulfill your own desires? Are you trying to make a deal with the God of the universe? Will you only obey if He answers your prayer the way you want Him to, or will you obey Him because it is the right thing to do? May we realize Who we are praying to, and may we always desire His will over our own.