In this third and last of my three-part post on seeking God I want to elaborate on what Jeremiah 29:13-14 says about our prayer posture as we seek God.
Firstly, the Lord EXPECTS us to seek Him. In the verse the Lord says, “You will seek me.” It is not If you want to, or Should you want to, or I hope you will—it is, you will. God expects us to seek Him. Truth be told, God commands it. For what purpose? Primarily that we may know Him. And when we know Him we will know His will, and desire to align ourselves to Him and do His will.
Secondly, we are to seek God EXCLUSIVELY. That is to say, it is God and God alone who we are to seek. For new and young believers, especially those who have come out from other religions and hence, who have previously worshipped other gods, what this means is that there is no place for syncretism. Jesus is not one of the many gods that we worship. He is the only God whom we are to worship and seek. The problem of the Israelites during Jeremiah’s time was that they added the gods of the surrounding nations into their worship, and as a result they were led away from God. That was the principal reason the Lord judged the nation of Israel and sent the people into exile.
For those of us who have been Christians a little longer this may not be a problem. However, there may be a subtle and even greater danger—that we go seeking for counsel and help from elsewhere instead of seeking God first. Or we may run from one church to another or one conference to another—hoping to find some magic formula to lift our lives. The Lord says, “You will seek me.” Prayer must be the first, last and also undergird everything we do.
Thirdly, the Lord says, “seek me with all your heart.” That is, with the ENTIRETY of your heart, or wholeheartedly. Seeking God calls for effort and discipline. It is an effort of the heart—of wanting God, waiting upon Him, desiring to hear from Him and realigning ourselves to Him and His agenda.
A classic example in the Bible is Nehemiah. When we read his story and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem we often think of Nehemiah as action man. He was always doing something: evaluating, planning, strategising, giving instructions, even physically helping to rebuild the walls, contending with the opposition and dealing with rebellious people. If that is all we thought of Nehemiah—as action man—we have gotten him very wrong.
What was the very first thing that Nehemiah did when his brother told him of the sorry state of Jerusalem? Nehemiah 1:4 tells us, “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah’s first response to the news was prayer and fasting. And when you eavesdrop into his prayer you can hear the depth of his feelings; how he sought the Lord with all his heart. It was during this four months of seeking God (four months had passed between Chapter 1:1 and 2:1) that he understood the heart of the Lord for Jerusalem. It was in his time of prayer when the Lord told Nehemiah what He wanted him to do.
This dovetails into the fourth element we find in Jeremiah 29:13-14. The Lord says, “I will be found by you.” That’s God’s promise, or the result of what happens when we seek the Lord with all our hearts. From another perspective—this is where faith kicks in. Earlier on we learnt that the Lord expects us to seek Him. Now, here is His promise—that we can expect to find Him, to hear from Him and to encounter Him. That is to say, pray EXPECTANTLY—pray with faith, believing we will see the Lord and hear from Him.
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