“Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.'”

Jeremiah 42:19-20 (NIV)

“Heavenly Father, I praise and exalt you. Thank you for this day. I ask for car troubles, long lines, confused waiters, upset stomachs and most of all, to feel generally rotten for the rest of the day, and then to go to bed and get a horrible night sleep” isn’t the type of prayer that any of us would logically lift up to God. No, we’re more likely to ask that no harm, hurt, or danger befall us. How often do we ask for something “dangerous” like God’s will to be done when we’re really asking that His will be done as long as it’s not an inconvenience?

I often wonder whether or not the prayers that we lift up to God asking that His will be done are contrary to the other prayers that we lift up to Him asking that nothing “bad” happen in our lives. When I look back on my life the greatest victories have come from the greatest struggles. After all, how many of us dance for joy claiming victory over an uneventful day when everything went our way? Yes, we give thanks to God for the day and we move on. Honestly, there have been times when I’ve wanted to be in that struggle. I’ve longed for rough times that bring me to my knees in prayer wondering, “How am I going to get through this?”

The Apostle James tells us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8 NKJV). There’s more to that verse but I want to look, for a moment, only at the concept of drawing closer to God as He draws closer to you. I’ve heard it said that we’re either in a storm, just out of a storm, or getting ready to go into a storm in our lives. Allow me to suggest that our relationship to God is often determined by where we are relative to the storms in our lives. In the storm, we’re looking to God to get us out. When we’ve gotten out of the storm we’re still yet praising Him for having delivered us. Before the storm, we’re walking around whistling, no cares in the world, without our minds fixed on God.

When we take James 4:8 into context we see a little bit more of what it looks like to draw closer to God. There are many reasons why we might be going through a struggle in our lives. This letter by James is to the early Christian churches but it also applies to us. Here in the fourth chapter, James has brought up the worldly behavior of the church and its impact on its members. There’s lust, murder, coveting, war, etc. Their worldly behavior has brought trials and torments to them (James 4:1-5). While we all might want to think that we’re like Job when trials come, it’s more likely that we’re like the people in James.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

James 4:7-10 (NKJV)

This is what James told the church then and it applies to us today. James also tells us we can identify where our hearts are by our pride. “‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble'” (James 4:6 NKJV). Is it just me or doesn’t that make sense? When I’m feeling on top of the world and everything is going well- BAM! Things start to get out of joint. That’s when we humbly submit to God, resist the devil (turn from the world), and truly seek Him. We turn away from those things our hearts were set upon and start thinking about eternal things again. Our lamentations, mourning, and weeping are for the condition we allowed ourselves to get into. We stop loving the comforts of the world and turn our contrite hearts back to God.

Therefore, when we pray to God, we should ask Him to do whatever it takes, no matter the pain, to keep us in His good and perfect will.

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.