Have you ever caught yourself praying for something and, in a quid-pro-quo way, it occurs to you that you may get something from God. Not the overflowing blessings from God. I am talking about, in a mathematical way, calculating the results of your prayer or, better yet, your actions. I am not talking about this in a proud way. The fact that I have seen my own mind go in this direction is disconcerting.
I don’t only see this in myself, but I see it in others. Playing games with destiny by calculating results. It seems quite self-interested to me, but it is also very subtle. It is the person who always and never seems to be genuinely happy. The person who uses her pointer finger to move the compass in her direction no matter the actual direction of the compass. The manipulation of the compass may be in her relationship with God, with her spouse, or really just an overreaching press to move the realities of her life to her liking. Wow, it sounds really bad, but we all know or love this person. She may be your casual friend, someone in the family or maybe you.
God is plainly clear about how He feels about our calculated sacrifices and prayers. Through the prophet Isaiah, He says . . .
When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:12-15.
I don’t know that I can add to the heart of God on this matter. It is an understatement to say that God sees through our calculations. In fact, He doesn’t even listen. Rather, humbling, isn’t it?
What is more remarkable to me is the following verse. God doesn’t skip a beat. He gives us a remedy.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17.
These are the Lord’s calculations, or rather plans for us. We don’t have a place to make plans for ourselves outside of His goodness. He wants us to be “willing and obedient.” Isaiah 1:19. He wants to forgive us and give us good things. Because really, the good things He has in store for us are always far better than what our eyes can see. 1 Corinthians 2:9.
But God has revealed [wisdom] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now that we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12.