The Test

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” Gen. 22:1

My cell phone provider released an advertising campaign that promoted their services with a persistent and effective question. It featured a man repeatedly asking into his phone, “Can you hear me now?” It resonated with consumers who had experienced being out of the range of a communication tower. Those who have had phone service interrupted while driving through a mountain range or a deep valley have repeated the same question over and over again.

God’s plan for prayer is all about communication with His children. He is not in need of communicating with them, in the sense that He is uninformed about them.  He already knows what they need. His children need to know, they need Him.

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Mt. 6:8

Prayer begins with God’s call to His children, not their cry to Him. Old Testament Scripture provides a powerful picture of God constantly calling out to His children, and His children turning a deaf ear to His voice. The New Testament reveals how God has placed His Spirit within the hearts of His children to remind them whose they are, and to cry out to Him on their behalf even when words fail them.

Prayer begins in the heart of God before the faintest cry comes out of the mouths of His children. The act of prayer is proof positive that The Father is always calling to His children. They are not always listening. When God called Abraham, he responded, “Here I am.” His answer reveals the essence of prayer. God calls His children. His children respond to Him.

Recently, I heard Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana share how he became a Christian. His simple statement revealed the call of God, and man’s cry for redemption.

“I didn’t’ find God. He found me.” Gov. Bobby Jindal

It is in prayer that God reveals His will. God desires His will to be done. More to the point, He desires for His children to desire to do His will. Jesus didn’t debate or fight with The Father. He embraced God’s will. He didn’t resist it.

“Not My will, but Yours be done." ~Jesus, Lk. 22:43

Prayer warriors engage in spiritual warfare, but don’t fight with God. They show up to obey His will, not their own. Like solders on call to the voice of their commander, they make the only proper response to a call from God. They respond with total availability, and immediate obedience. Abraham responded to God’s call with an immediate, “Here I am.”  He didn’t’ say, “Can I put you on hold?

When I entered the ministry almost 50 years ago, I remember hearing preachers remind their people to “Keep short accounts with God.” They urged them to allow no distance, no gap, no delay between hearing from God, and obeying Him.  

When there is a lapse or a gap in obedience, it is not to be ignored. It is to be confessed. This truth never gets old. Disobedience never ages well. Pray and obey.

When Abraham showed up at the sound of God’s voice, he did not know what God had in mind for him. He only knew that he was on God’s mind, and he was in God’s hands. Nothing else mattered to him. Nothing else should ever matter to us.

What was the test?  It was not a True / False question. It was multiple choice. Abraham had to choose between trusting God and resisting God. True belief is always a matter of absolute obedience. God tested Abraham. Abraham trusted God.

“Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering.” V. 2

“Your only son” reveals God’s view of man-made effort. He doesn’t recognize it. Abraham had two sons. One was the son he had made, Ishmael. The other was the son God had given him, Isaac. There is a huge difference between a good idea, and God’s idea. Man’s plan is no substitute for God’s will.  

Abraham faced a soul-wrenching dilemma. He had to trust God to protect the son God had given him, or fight God to protect the promise God had made to him. Abraham chose to obey God, by trusting Him. His obedience turned out for the best, but it looked like it was the worst thing he could do. It often does.

NOTE TO SELF: Obedience often looks like the worst thing you can do. Look at it through the eyes of faith, not the eyes of fear. Pray and obey. There is no other way. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!