God’s Plans and Man’s Prayers

| Mon, Aug 5, 2013 | Set 3 Week 32

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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD.—Jeremiah 29:11–14

The comfort that God gives to his own in these verses is staggering.

Why do I say “to his own”? First, God promises to give these recipients “a hope” (verse 11) as opposed to those who have “no hope and [are] without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). Not everyone has this hope. Only a certain kind of person does.

Likewise, God says that he “will hear” them when they pray (verse 12). When man prays, God either distances himself from them or listens to them. King Solomon says, “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). Again, God doesn’t regard the prayers of every pray-er. Even believing husbands who do not live with their wives “in an understanding way” offer up prayers that are hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

No, this passage is aimed at a very specific kind of person. These people are those who cry out to God and draw near to him and seek him with all of their hearts (verses 12–13). It is no use telling someone to seek God with all his heart when no one seeks for God (Romans 3:11). If anyone comes, it is because God draws him (John 6:44).

Why then do I say that the comfort God gives such people is “staggering”?

First, God’s power amazes us because his plans—these plans he has for us “for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”—those very plans are unstoppable. In the previous verse, God says, “I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (verse 10). There is no doubt it will happen.

Elsewhere, he says, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose [or pleasure in Hebrew]” (Isaiah 46:10). Anything the Lord pleases to do is as good as done. So, when he purposes to give his people a good future, it staggers the mind to think that nothing can thwart those purposes.

Therefore, when we hear of these staggering purposes, we respond by calling upon him and coming to him and praying to him. We cry out to no other because all else is dim—even invisible—to the eyes of the heart that see the penetrating light of the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ. We would turn to no one else because only Christ has the words of eternal life. We would not commune with any other because only God is willing and able to finish the good work he began in us.

So, seek him with all of your heart. Perhaps the greatest fear of my life is to be named as one who draws near to God with my mouth and honor him with my lips, while my heart is far from him (Isaiah 29:13). That will not do. Nothing but whole-hearted seeking counts. When we seek God in this way, he promises that we will find him (verses 13–14). And when we find him, we know that we have been “known by God” when we “come to know God” (Galatians 4:9).

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