There was once a man who wanted to grow strawberry plants in his backyard garden. After he put the small plants in the ground, he prayed, “God my plants need rain to begin their growth. Please let it rain.” The next morning a gentle rain shower provided water for the plants. He then prayed, “Okay God, now my plants need the warmth of the sun.” The sun shone brightly all afternoon. The man knew that his plants needed cool damp nights to take in carbon dioxide that is needed to convert sunlight energy into chemical energy in order to grow. The man prayed for cool nights, and many nights the temperature cooled enough to help the plants. This process went on for weeks, with the man praying for what he thought the plants need, but soon the strawberry plants stopped growing and they eventually died.
One day at work the man shared his sadness with a co-worker. The co-worker said he also plants strawberries every year, and this year his plants are producing super sweet deep red berries. The man whose plants wilted asked for advice. His co-worker answered this way: I plant my berries at the proper time and then I simply pray, “God, you know what my plants need for proper growth so please send what is needed.” I put no conditions on what God needs to do.
That story is fictitious, but it is a story of how we sometimes pray. We take our request to God and then we proceed to give Him the ways we want Him to answer. It is as if we are asking God to bless and prosper our plans rather than asking Him to reveal His plans to us. We need to entrust our lives, and yes, our plans as well, to God. It is He who knows best.
Proverbs 3:5-6 is a good verse to memorize and live by – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)
The Message version puts those same verses this way – Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
And later on, still in Proverbs, we read these words – Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purposes that prevail. (19:21)
So, don’t put a lid on what God can and will do. Simply ask Him to lead, guide and direct your steps. Do you want super sweet strawberries? Ask Him to bring sunshine, rain, and cool nights when those conditions are needed, not when you want them!
New Bern, North Carolina