Last week we discussed the first six ways to shipwreck our destiny. As noted, a shipwreck usually occurs as a result of some tragic accident or unforeseen error, and it could also happen due to a lack of awareness about any of a dozen situations or circumstances. As a result, many shipwrecks throughout history might have been avoided. Sadly, however, for lack of information or attention, ships are wrecked, lives are lost, and dreams destroyed.
Unfortunately, the same can be said of many destinies.
“‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge'” (Hosea 4:1).
The fact is, there are Biblical principles which will keep our destinies from floundering on the high seas of life. However, whether we’re aware of them or not, if we violate these principles, we can shipwreck any good thing we’re trying to do. Last week, we listed several hindrances to destiny, our first six. They are: not putting God first, misusing our authority, disobedience, failure to love others, unconfessed sin, and unforgiveness. Unfortunately, not knowing about these principles does not exempt us from the consequences of violating them. In other words, it’s not enough to know what we should do in terms of fulfilling our destinies; we must also be aware of we cannot do lest we risk failure.
Disclaimer: That does not mean, of course, that we cannot receive forgiveness for these sins; we certainly can. However, receiving mercy for our sin does not always mean that the consequences of our sin will be negated. And that’s not punishment; that’s just the principle that “we reap what we sow.” That said, there are four more Biblical principles which we would do well not to violate.
Thing #7: “Evil Speech.”
Our words can be another hindrance to prayer. Gossip, slander, accusation, arguing, lying, complaining—all of these can impede our prayers. Now, thank God for his mercy because who hasn’t, at the very least, complained? But for those who continue in these things without repentance, their prayers won’t accomplish much. Isaiah admonishes, “’If you do away with the pointing finger [accusation] and malicious talk… then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday [revelation]. The Lord will guide you always [direction]; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land [provision] and will strengthen your frame [healing]…’” (58:9-11, interpretations mine). Peter says, “’If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies’” (3:9).
Thing #8: Pride.
This is another no-no if we’d like our prayers answered. We all know pride is bad—no surprise there. For example, Naaman implored the prophet Elisha to pray for his healing from leprosy, but when Elisha told Naaman to go and dip in the Jordan River seven times, Naaman thought that ridiculous and refused. His pride got in the way. Consequently, he didn’t have his petition for healing granted until he decided to humble himself and take a dip. Then his prayer was answered. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5-6).
Thing #9: Wrong Response to Authority.
We see this principle in Paul’s warning to children to submit to and obey their parents and they’ll be blessed. Why? Because their parents are the authority over children. But that warning about authority applies to all of us, not simply children.
And why does God feel so strongly about submission that He ties conditions to responses to authority? Because anarchy ensues and societies are destroyed when people rebel against authority.
Therefore, in order to preserve society, God has built into His principles the condition that if we submit to authority, then we will be blessed. And answered prayer results in blessing.
Thing #10: Having Faith in Faith, Not In God
“Having faith” is not about how much faith we have, it’s about whether or not we trust God. Period. The problem is that sometimes we treat faith like heaven’s money; if we just get enough of it, we can cash it in for whatever we want. But it doesn’t work that way. That’s because the essence of faith is the question “Do I trust God—whether or not He answers my prayers the way I want Him to?” That’s vastly different than “Okay, God, here’s how much faith I have so here’s how I want You to answer my prayer.” Faith is not cash, and God is not a vending machine. If we think so, I think I can predict that our prayers won’t be very effective.
We are not saved by works—not disputing that—and the idea here is not to bring fear or condemnation but freedom and success. But the success of the works that we are called to do on this earth (our destinies) certainly depends upon whether or not we obey the principles affecting answers to prayer. Remember, God promises that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer” (I Peter 3:12).
And when God hears our prayers, our destinies are fulfilled.