The Difference Between “Please” and “May”

bless-and-keepMay You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and may You forgive and repay the man according to all his ways, since You know his heart, for You alone know the human heart. (2 Chronicles 6:30)

We often use the word “please” instead of “may.” But “please” seems to indicate a request only. “May” seems to be entwined with “your will be done,” inviting God to respond in His own wisdom.

Perhaps I can overthink word usage sometimes, but word choice can also help, change, and clarify my perspective. And I think I will be using “may” more in the near future.

The Motive Behind Requests

motivesGod said to Solomon, “Since this was in your heart, and you have not requested riches, wealth, or glory, or for the life of those who hate you, and you have not even requested long life, but you have requested for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are given to you. (2 Chronicles 1:11-12a, emphasis added)

“That you may.” It’s a short but important phrase. It’s the motive behind what we request, and our motive matters to God.

If we ask for the wrong reasons, we don’t truly need what we request. Or if we truly need what we request but have the wrong motives, the timing might be wrong for us to receive it. And sometimes, despite our motives, we still receive our requests. However, we’re unable to use what we receive as well as we would if our motives were pure and well-intended.

Even when our motives are good, we might not receive what we request. Not everyone has the same capability to use something God gives, such as wisdom and knowledge. God knows to what measure we should receive it. He also knows how we will use or abuse the gifts He gives us.

Regardless of what we receive and how that compares to others, we need to encourage each other as we seek God and spur one another forward in following Him well even though that process and timing looks different for many. Yet with pure motives, it always leads to a closer relationship with God, even when it’s not exactly what we expect.

A Humble Prayer

imagesBut who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand. For we live before You as foreigners and temporary residents in Your presence as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Yahweh our God, all this wealth that we’ve provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand; everything belongs to You. I know, my God, that You test the heart and that You are pleased with what is right. I have willingly given all these things with an upright heart, and now I have seen Your people who are present here giving joyfully and willingly to You. Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors, keep this desire forever in the thoughts of the hearts of Your people, and confirm their hearts toward You. Give my son Solomon a whole heart to keep and to carry out all Your commands, Your decrees, and Your statutes, and to build the temple for which I have made provision. (1 Chronicles 29:14-19)

What a prayer of offering, dedication, or commitment. What if we humbly approached God with this prayer each and every day? What if this was purely expressed from the core of our beings?

How might God change you through it? And how would it change your faith in Him?

Our Love/Hate of Daily Requirements

indexSo David left Asaph and his relatives there before the ark of the Lord’s covenant to minister regularly before the ark according to the daily requirements. (1 Chronicles 16:37)

What are our “daily requirements”?

We all have them. We might look at others’ daily requirements, including those we observe at different times, different cultures, or different beliefs, and we declare them silly, unimportant, oppressive, or irrational. But we all have them, even if we don’t listen to God and rely on Him to determine them for us.

Even if we do listen to God for our daily requirements, we don’t necessarily see them as a blessing or honor. At times, we still feel as if they are silly, unimportant, oppressive, or irrational, even as we choose to follow them. Of course, sometimes we reject them. Perhaps it’s simply the fact that they are consider as “requirements” that we don’t like. We rebel against what is expected of us, especially in our independent culture. We don’t want anyone to boss us, including God, even when He is determining something that grows and helps us.

Our feelings about daily requirements don’t determine their worth. What God says about them does. Perhaps it’s not really the daily requirements in and of themselves that are nearly as important as our faithful discipline and trust that God knows how to lead well, even when we don’t understand.

Of course, we need to discern whether God is determining daily requirements, we are following tradition that no longer applies, or we are following people who we might respect and to whom the requirements might have made sense for them personally at some point but doesn’t determine our own faithful obedience.

Discernment is always key. Following isn’t about an established pattern but a firm faithfulness, whether God keeps our routine the same but grows us through it or changes our routine but reveals His own and our faithfulness through the changes.

Discernment is a daily requirement.

In Spite of All That

dee582866cdec2124e392edcd129db6e.pngIn addition, Josiah removed the mediums, the spiritists, household idols, images, and all the detestable things that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem. He did this in order to carry out the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the Lord’s temple. Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his mind and with all his heart and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him.

In spite of all that, the Lord did not turn from the fury of His great burning anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had provoked Him with. (2 Kings 23:24-26)

We can do what we know is right and still not get the results we want. In fact, it happens often. God’s perspective is bigger, broader, and more complete. We connect two things together–our good efforts with a bad outcome–and declare it (and even God) to be unfair. But we often connect the wrong things. We don’t complain too much when our bad collides with grace and results in what seems to be good. We have a need to explain the unexplainable and connect the dots in the wrong order. It’s like we try to make a picture out of the thousands of dots on the page without an idea of which dot follows which. But we certainly try. And sometimes, we force the dots to create a picture that looks beautiful but is nowhere close to what the picture is supposed to be.

Instead, we could be faithful and patient. And let God do what He does best: connecting the dots to make the picture He knows is the most beautiful for us across our entire lives.

Please, Lord

3024e395ac2b9db1b490bc9e10fe0b78.jpgThen Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord“Please Lord, remember how I have walked before You faithfully and wholeheartedly and have done what pleases You.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (2 Kings 20:2-3)

God remembers. Asking Him to remember is more about us than Him. It’s us recalling what we’ve done and how we’ve trusted Him (or not) and acknowledging that He knows everything about us in the past, present, and future. It’s our humility and boldness in His presence. And it’s an essential part of our faith.

Spend some time with God today, recalling your journey with Him, settling into His presence in the present, and trusting Him with the future.

Give it all to Him. Give yourself to Him.