Ask yourself this question: ‘Its good to pray, but do you obey?’
We are all aware of the impact that prayer has on our lives, and we enjoy doing it because we know it moves God to open doors. But has it occurred to you that obedience has a vital influence on when we pray? It is very easy to pray, but when God is telling you to do something, you must do it with all joy. In Hebrews 3 verse 15 it says: “Then while it is still called today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion [in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them]”. So in other words, when you can feel yourself being convicted that God is speaking to you about something; maybe it could me to tell your neighbor that Jesus loves them, or allowing an elderly person to sit on your seat, or being kind to the one who hurt you recently. There are different ways in which we can obey God, however we should not just obey because we want a blessing for ourselves, but that we can also be a blessing onto others who are struggling with obedience.
Obedience versus Sacrifice
1 Samuel 15 verse 22 says: “Samuel said: Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”. Why do you think it is important to obey relative to sacrifice? One of the reasons why obedience will always be chosen as significant is because when we obey, we are respecting Gods commands, and letting Him have His way in our lives. More also, it is the response of someone who is in a relationship of trust with God. You claim to say you trust God and depend on him, but let it be so as He takes the lead over your lives. Obedience is better than sacrifice because we are letting God be God and staying in our proper place in Him; the place of dependence and surrender to His goodness.
Sacrifice on the other hand is an attempt to gain independence from God. If we sacrifice to Him, then we have put Him in our debt. If we sacrifice to God, He owes us something (we assume). Sacrifice is a way of ‘buying’ whatever we want to get from God, such as (protection, deliverance, provision, favor), while at the same time remaining independent from Him. Not to say that sacrifice is not good, but you are trying to win God with the things that you have given Him. For example, “God, look at all I have done for you! You owe me this, it’s only fair!” I was guilty of this type of attitude before, and it did not help me one bit. We cannot deceive God with our tithes, offerings, gifts to others etc. It really does depend on the motive of your heart; so why you give to God, and why you bless others with your gifts.
So when we desire specific blessings, we also need to be conscious of God’s voice, so that it may be well with us. When you can feel God speaking to you, do not harden your heart. Yes it may be uncomfortable at first, but the more you obey, the better it will be for you, and those around you will see a difference.
The life of sacrifice is a life of ‘demanding my rights’ and ‘living as I wish’. If we constantly keep having the mindset of ‘me me me’, it will not be pleasing to God. Instead, it will make you self-centred. Look at what is happening throughout the whole world; killings, fighting, raping, kidnapping, human-trafficking etc. 2 Chronicles 7 verse 14 says: ” If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and require the necessity of My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land”. If we will humble ourselves in the Lord’s sight, not only shall we receive favor, but we shall also receive PEACE in our countries and also throughout the world. The life of obedience, though, is a response to God’s gracious invitation and is lived as an upward spiral of dependence and intimacy. This is why Jesus did not say, “If you love me, sacrifice for me.” Instead He said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Jesus is HUMBLE!
Abraham and Isaac
In reference to Genesis 22 (the whole chapter; read when it is convenient for you please) when we read the story of Abraham and his son Isaac, you can see that Abraham was truly a man who obeyed Gods voice. God told him to kill his only Son. He was terrified, yet he still obeyed Gods voice. Isaac did not know what Abraham was doing, but the pain that Abraham must have been going through was too much for words. We can see that, despite being in a position of killing someone you love, God ‘tested’ him to see if Abraham would obey the voice of the Lord. And He did, that is when as soon as Abraham held the knife in his hand, God called “Abraham, put down your sword”. Not only that, but it also tested Abraham’s Faith in God which he did pass successfully.
This kind of obedience (as a response to divine love) always leads to intimacy and dependence. This is why obedience is better than sacrifice.
Prayer for Obedience
God I thank you for leading me, and I pray that Your strength and wisdom will constantly be with me as I make decisions that follow Your path. Help me to put Your Word to the test in my life so that my obedience will be a blessing to everyone who sees You working in me. Lord, help me to stay focused on You so the obstacles that come up won’t seem impossible to overcome. I know all things are possible through You, and I thank You for the privilege of doing any small task that brings You glory. Let my name be forgotten, Lord, and Yours be remembered. Amen.
God bless you all.