Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. (v. 8)

In an episode of the television show Justified, a petty criminal finds himself on the wrong side of a criminal gang that employs him. In desperation, he asks Jesus for help. The problem is that he wants Jesus to help with a murder! I’ve never prayed for something like that, but there are times when my prayers have been just as self-serving.

In Jeremiah 21, the king of Judah asked Jeremiah for help. He wanted God to rescue Jerusalem from Babylon. God flatly denied the request. Why? Because the king asked God to save something that God had already condemned. Jerusalem was a city full of idols, and Judah was a nation more devoted to money and military might than to the one true God. The king was asking God to save the very thing that was standing between God and his people.

We are quick to demand God’s blessing. We rarely stop to think about whether what we want is something God wants for us. God wants to draw us closer to himself, make us more like himself, and through us, make himself known to the world. He will not save anything that stands in the way of what he wants, nor will he let anything stand in the way of his saving purposes. If you and I want what God wants, we can trust him to deliver. In the words of the psalmist, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). —Ben Van Arragon

As you pray, invite God to align your desires with his perfect goals.