13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. — James 4:13-17 NIV
We can look at nature and realize that God is very organized. He established the seasons and the natural order of dormancy in the winter, birthing of the new in the spring with the winds in March that help to be sure every plant is pollinated, the showers in April to prepare the soil for the flowers of May. Then the summer for growth and the fall for maturity and harvesting. That plan remains the same year after year since plants can’t make their own plans. We need to have a plan for our lives but it needs to be flexible enough and held loosely enough to allow God to change us and our plans to fit His plan for our lives. As Proverbs tells us, we make our plans, but God directs our steps and makes them sure. Each of us is only one little piece of the whole jigsaw puzzle. Since we don’t have the boxtop, we can’t see the finished picture. So, we need to be sure that our plans fit into God’s big plan just as each piece of the puzzle must fit to complete the picture.
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Eph. 2:10 NIV
So, if we know which good works God has prepared us to do, we need to do them with all our hearts, minds, and strength. Because of all He has done for us, we should consider anything less as unacceptable.
1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.–James 4:1-3 (NLT)
Regardless of what popular songwriters might tell us, there is no such thing as unanswered prayer. There are at least 3 possible answers that God can give. He can say “Yes” or “No” or “Go, but go slow”. The prayers that we perceive as unanswered are those that don’t agree with what we expected the answer to be. If we have crosschecked our desires with Scripture and there is no conflict, the answer is usually “Yes”. God provides everything we need when we need it. He is not required to give us everything we want. Focusing on what we don’t have always causes conflict. The conflict may be limited to our own personal life, but it will most likely affect every relationship we have. We wage personal wars against our conscience and against our family and friends. In the case of nations, we wage war to gain new lands or to dominate the wills of others. So, pray about what to pray about, then pray. God hears and answers every prayer.