Read Judges 11:29-40
“God, if you will just rescue me from this situation, I will…”
Have you ever prayed a prayer like that? What was your situation? What was your vow? Did God rescue? Did you keep your promise?
Jephthah’s bargaining was unwise. In fact, Bible translators give their own thoughts on Jephthah’s vow in the headings they provide above the passage. The New American Standard calls this section “Jephthah’s Tragic Vow.” The New English Translation calls it “A Foolish Vow…”
What is it that prompted him to voice this “if you…, then I…” kind of prayer? I am not sure that Scripture gives us total clarity on all of the reasons. It certainly reflected a promise that wasn’t well thought through. What was he expecting to exit his home? Maybe a sheep? A goat? Apparently, he wasn’t thinking his own daughter to come out.
Was this not-well-thought-through prayer a reflection of Jephthah’s lack of faith? Did he have a misguided perspective of God? An inflated view of himself?
While there are many questions we cannot fully answer, there are, nevertheless, some principles from which we can benefit. If you are tempted to offer up a “if you…, then I…” kind of prayer, here are some important questions you might want to consider:
- Are you willing to trust God regardless of the outcome? He really is a gracious heavenly Father who does respond to your requests according to His sovereign and sometimes mysterious plan. There is no problem with you making your request clear, but you don’t have to plea bargain with God. Like Jesus, you can pray, “…not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39)
- Is there something you are tempted to bargain with, that you should be offering to God regardless? Because of who He is and what He has already done through Jesus, He really is deserving of our resources, energies, and commitment. If you are tempted to offer any of those as a bargaining chip, why haven’t you already surrendered them to Him? It is important to recognize that the offerings that please God today are not ones that are killed, but ones that are fully given over to His will and purposes.
21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE
For the full challenge, go here!
Day 11: Wake up early
Read Mark 1:35. During his time on earth, Jesus would often get up early to spend time with His Father. Wake up a little earlier than normal and spend some distraction free time with the Lord. Pray that you would do your best to honor Him and make His love known!