Friday of the Third Week of Lent
In response to the second temptation of the evil one, Jesus says, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test’” (Matthew 4:7). How do we put the Lord, our God, to the test? We do so when we place expectations upon God, rather than seeking only His perfect will.
For example, if the devil were to speak the same temptation to you, saying, “If God loves you, then He will take care of you even if you jump off this cliff. If He doesn’t catch you, then He must not care.” Of course, we can see the foolishness of such a temptation when it is put this way.
However, there are other subtle ways that we might put God to the test. For example, say you have a family member who is ill and you pray, “God, I know You love me, so based on that love I am asking for a healing.” Or say you are starting a new business and you pray, “Lord, I’m starting this business and am entrusting it to You to make it prosperous.” Or say you really want to get into a particular college and you pray, “Lord, please do me this favor and help me to get in.”
The problem with all of these prayers is that you are placing expectations upon God in your prayer. The subtle conditions could be spoken like this: “If You do not heal my family member, You must not love us.” Or, “If my business fails, then it’s because You did not help us.” Or, “If I do not get into this college, then You did not listen to my prayer.”
The only good prayer to pray in all circumstances is one based on the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…,” or Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus, jumping off the Temple roof to prove that He is God, was not part of the Father’s will. In our lives, there might be many things we pray for that are only our will, not the Father’s will. Thus, our prayer must be fine-tuned so that we do not find ourselves placing conditions in our prayer, or having expectations of God that are not part of His will. God’s will is perfect; it never changes. His will is meant to change us, to transform our will, so that our will becomes conformed to His will. This is the purpose of prayer.
Ponder your prayer today. What do you pray for? How do you pray? Does your prayer ever “tempt” God by placing expectations upon Him that are outside His holy will? Trusting Him is what we are made for. It must become the goal of our lives and the focus of our prayer. Seek to make all you do and all you pray for conform to the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, seeking only the will of God, and the devil’s subtle deceptions will lose their power over you.
My trustworthy Lord, You and You alone are worthy of my complete trust and surrender. Please help me to give my life to You always and in every circumstance, seeking only Your will for my life and for others. May I never place my expectations upon You but only seek to serve You with all my heart. Jesus, I trust in You.