But should not all prayers be from desperation? Does that mean that one should only call on Him when all else fails? God is our present help in time of need. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
But trying to strike a bargain with God is a bad idea. When a person says, “If God will do so-and-so, then I’ll serve Him,” he has attempted to bring God to the bargaining table and has become a striker. So what’s said, in essence, is “If God doesn’t do what I want Him to do, then I’m not going to serve Him.”
Even Israel knew better than that. Read Exodus 19:8: “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord,” Exodus 24:3: “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do,” and Exodus 24:7: And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.”
Trusting God is saying — regardless of God’s decision, regardless of how my prayer is answered — “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.”
Prayers are answered because of faith in God, coming to Him in the Name of Jesus. We have nothing to offer. We have nothing to bargain with. What God gives to us and when He answers prayers, it’s because of the love of Christ, who has already paid the ultimate price for us. We cannot earn or negotiate for His blessings — not through sacrifice or works and even not through giving.
What could we call a sacrifice when Jesus became the sacrifice for us? The living sacrifice asked of us is by the mercies of God (Romans 12:1) “your reasonable service” which can only be given as “holy and acceptable unto God.”
We need to be very careful how we make promises to God in times of trouble on the condition that He will do certain thing. In fact, trying to bargain with God can be a dangerous practice. It can hinder our relationship with Him and our prayers will be ineffectual.
And our obedience to Him cannot be based on someone else’s actions or decisions. What may be God’s will for your life cannot hinge on what someone else does. They may not be serving God. They may not choose to do His will.
Once a young girl I knew said if it was God’s will for a certain thing to happen in her life, her brother would begin going to church. Well, it could be that certain thing was God’s will for her and most certainly it was God’s will for her brother to be in church, but that brother still may not begin attending church. So her faith was challenged. She had to realize obedience to God does not depend on another person’s actions or even her own desires. It’s not, “I’ll do if you’ll do.” It’s “whatever you say, Lord, that will I do.”
“I will serve you because I love you ... You have given life to me.”