“Can’t you just do what I want?!”

by Kari on January 16, 2013

woman bowing in prayer

Yesterday Dutch was frustrated. I had told him there would be no snacks since he didn’t eat his lunch, so about 3pm he’s in hunger-induced agony (not really) and asking if I will puh-lease give him a snack. When I said no I heard him sit on the stairs, sniffing his tears and lamenting,

“It’s so hard for me to not get what I want.”

Tell me about it.

It reminded me of this, from a few years ago:

In Genesis 17, I love Abraham’s words in verse 18.  The context is that he and Sarah have schemed together, of course, and used Hagar to produce the child Ishmael. Of course this was not the child of promise, it was the child of the flesh, born of their manipulative schemes and not the fulfillment of God’s promise.

But he is here. Ishmael is here and he’s now grown into a young man, and God is again telling Abraham that they shall bear a child–he and Sarah shall bear a child–in their old age.  Abraham’s response?  “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”

Now, this isn’t a plea for Ishmael’s life. Ishmael wasn’t going to die or anything, it’s just that Ishmael was not God’s plan.  But Abraham, in his humanness that I can’t help but love and identify with, pleads (my translation)–“Oh that You might do it my way! Oh that You could just adjust your plans, God, and just go along with what we’ve already set up. Can you please just bless what we’ve already done? Why do you have to go on and scrap it all and start over? I mean can’t you just use what we’ve done??

God’s answer?


No, He will not just go along with what you’ve already done by the work of your flesh. No, he will not just go ahead and “bless” what you’ve done in your own strength because you did not trust God enough to wait on Him.

Pure and simple. No.

Oooooh, sisters and brothers! Oooh, how often have we prayed that exact same prayer in our own words?  How often have I prayed, “Can you please just bless what I have done?  Nevermind if it was according to Your will or not? Can you just bless it, puh-leeease? Just this once and you just please do what I want and put Your power behind it?”

In other words, “Can’t you just do what I want?!”

Oh that makes my heart sink.  I know I have done this so many times. Not wicked things. Good things.  Even ministry things.  ”God here is my thing, can you please just bless it?”

Now, to be fair–of course when we plan something and we seek God as best as we know how and as best as we know it is of Him, of course we can confidently and wholeheartedly ask Him to bless it.

But I’ve caught myself as I’m praying, and I notice that often this creeps into my prayers: Just asking to have God’s power behind whatever it is I want.  It’s subtle, but it makes me God, right? And the minute I start going there I’m in big trouble.

God will never bless the works of our flesh.

He will redeem them, yes.  He will use them for good, yes. But He will never say yes to our prayer, “Oh that I might have my way! Can you please just drop Your plans and do it my way instead?”   Or, He might say yes, but that would be a scary thing indeed.  Sound discouraging?

There’s more to the story.

There’s no period after the “no”.  God says, “no” comma. God says “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear a son and you shall call his name Isaac.”

No, because My plan is so much better.

No, because it would be cruel of Me to give in to your way.  Because My way is infinitely better than your way.  No, because I have things in store for you that are greater than you can ever imagine.

God says, “Trust me on this one. No is exactly what you want to hear.”

A good reminder for me today. You too?

Thanks for reading.