(9) As much higher as the heavens are above the earth,
So my ways are higher than your ways,
And my plans than your plans.
(10) For as the rain and snow comes down from the sky and doesn’t return there unless it waters the land and makes it bring forth plants and sprout, and give seed to the one who plants and bread to the one who eats. (11) It will be the same way with my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but it will do what I please and will prosper in the purpose for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:9-11
One of the big complaints about prayer is that it doesn’t work the way we want it to. â€œWhy doesn’t God answer my prayers?â€ we ask. â€œWhy isn’t God working?â€
And indeed if you test prayer by human standards and by human plans it doesn’t really work all that well. We ask for money and God sends us work or teaches us to economize. We ask for healing, and God teaches us patience and trust. We ask for safety and comfort and God sends us risks and adventures. And then, just to keep us off balance, or so it seems, he sends healing, prosperity, and safety.
What we miss about prayer and about a relationship with God is just what Isaiah 55:9 says. His ways and his plans are simply out of reach of ours. Our plans are not merely temporal, they’re often short-sighted. But God’s plans are eternal. Our plans are limited and small. God’s plans span the universe.
Now don’t take this as a reason to quit praying. Praying is tremendously, and you may even get the answer you want. But getting the answer you want is not the best reason to pray. I’ve often said that I believe prayer is about 90% about adjusting our wants to God’s will, and only about 10% about God granting us our petitions.
People often ask me about this as though that really took away all the real reasons to pray. If God isn’t going to give them what they ask for, why should they pray? Well, first, I haven’t said God isn’t going to give you what you ask for. I have many personal experiences and scriptural promises that say otherwise. But I also have many personal experiences and scriptural promises that say that the better thing is to let God adjust me to his plans. Why? Because he is a much better planner than I am, than you are, than any human is.
So can we count on God? Absolutely! His word will accomplish what he wills. Notice that there’s no promise that his word will accomplish what we will. It is what he wills. Our complaints are generally about God’s failure to do what we want him to do.
This suggests to me that a much larger portion of my prayer time needs to be spent in listening. What is God saying? What is God doing? What does God want me to do this morning, over the next minute, hour, day, or longer? Where can I be in order to go along with his plan and get his blessing?
Think of it this way. If you’re looking for a job in a particular industry, you’re going to have to go to where there are business that are part of that industry. You have to go where the action is. If you sit in your home town in Michigan, for example, looking for a job in the orange groves, it’s just not going to happen, not ever! In the same way if you refuse to go where God has work for you, it’s not going to happen, ever!
How much time will you spend listening for his will today?