God may bring difficulty into your life for your good. Not in some surface-level way, but at a heart-level. Within Isaiah 30, there are three reminders that I want us to reflect on regarding prayers for change.
God hears our prayers
He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.Isaiah 30:19
Isaiah starts by reminding the Israelite people of the graciousness of God. God desires to answer their prayers. All they must do is cry out to him. The Israelites had been living rebellious lives, but God wanted restoration of their relationship.
Likewise, we can often drift away from God or be far away. Yet God desires for us to pray to him for help, change, and need. He is gracious, and there is hope for change. But most real and lasting change comes at a cost.
God may give us difficulties
Even though God hears our prayers, he can frequently bring hardships our way for a purpose. I know in my life that idea can be a hard pill to swallow. I like praying and getting answers that do not change much of my life. The challenge is when an answer to prayer means shaking up everything around you. Isaiah says,
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction.Isaiah 30:20
Adversity and affliction are not two words that I would hope would be the answer to a prayer; however, in Isaiah’s situation, that was the answer. The Israelite people needed to experience adversity and affliction to change and return to worshiping God alone.
That may not be the exact way in which God works in your life, but it could be. Would you be okay if it was?
God changes us
The Israelites needed a wake-up call to change, and Isaiah was doing just that. All of the affliction and adversity that would come in their situation was not for pointless reasons. It was precisely God’s method for their change. Isaiah continues:
Yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, Be gone!Isaiah 30:20-22
Following their trouble and affliction, God would not hide anymore, and they would be able to see him. God would guide them on how to live their lives, and they would let go of their idols and worship God alone. In other words, Isaiah is saying that if they go through difficulties that God brings, he will change their lives.
At the end of this passage, Isaiah talks about renouncing idols. I hear the word “idols” and think of some ancient statue and move on. I think, “well, I don’t have any golden calf idols in my room, so I’m good.”
The existence of physical idols is not the only issue Isaiah is addressing. It’s something more profound. He is getting to what their hearts are seeking after. In their culture, it was human-made idols. In our society, what captivates our heart worship are things such as career goals, relationships, pornography, money, power, drugs, morality, and the list can go on and on.
Admittedly, some of the things listed above are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. The issue arises when we elevate that “thing” to a level that God alone is worthy.
The Israelites had elevated foreign gods above Yahweh, the God of the Bible, who alone was their source for hope. He had saved them countless times before, made them a nation, and called them his people. Yet, they rebelled and turned to other gods, and Isaiah is being used to call them back to the God of their salvation.
Letting go of the things that pull us away from God can be hard.
Perhaps you are running away from God right now, or maybe you are in a valley and are crying out to God for help. Find hope in God’s word today. God hears our cry for help, for guidance, and change.
He is gracious to us in the little, trivial requests as well as the big, messy ones too. He cares, and he hears our prayers. We are not praying to a distant, aloof, and unapproachable God. Instead, let the writer of Hebrews remind us of the posture of our savior.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16
He calls the reader of Hebrews to draw near to the throne of grace confidently. What a beautiful picture of our God! We can boldly come with all our baggage, failures, insecurities, pride, and know that we are coming to a place where grace and mercy can be found.
Through the blood of Jesus, his death for all humanity’s rebellion, and victory in his resurrection, we can confidently approach the throne of grace. Cry out today to God for change and believe that he will answer our prayers. Change may come with hardships like the Israelites had to experience, but it may not.
Please do not misunderstand a critical biblical truth. Salvation is generously given to anyone who believes in the name of Jesus. The next steps after making that choice will involve real costly life change because you have chosen to make Jesus your Lord alone.
Isaiah reminds us that change may come at a cost, but the restored relationship with God is better and worth the price. Be comforted today that there is hope for change today.
questions to consider
- Why would God use difficulty to possibly answer our prayers rather than an easier option?
- Is a restored or new relationship with God worth the earthly cost? (ex. new lifestyle, relationships, comforts)
- Do you believe that God hears your prayers? If not, what would it take for you to believe that he does?