Donald Trump wrote a best-selling book in 1987 titled, “The Art of the Deal.” In it he chronicles his life & contains an 11-step formula for business success inspired by Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. In his book Mr. Trump wrote…
My style of deal-making is quite simple & straightforward… I aim very high, & then I just keep pushing & pushing to get what I’m after. Sometimes I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.
Making deals, AKA haggling, is a part of life. When you purchase a car… house… or go to a yard sale haggling is part of the process. Most sellers set the price a little high expecting it to be haggled down to their “bottom price.” Some people are good at haggling… I’m not!
Haggling works in many situations. But let’s ask a question & please don’t answer too quickly. It is right, proper, &/or appropriate to haggle with God? (BIG PAUSE) Before we answer let’s go to Scripture to get started in the right direction b/c it seems there are some who HAVE haggled w/ God.
In Gen 18, God made known to Abraham he was going to destroy Sodom b/c of its wickedness. In vss 22-33 Abe haggled w/ God asking, “Will you destroy the righteous w/ the wicked? What if I find 50 righteous, will you spare the city?” God answers yes. Then Abe dropped the number to 45. God agreed. Abe dropped it to 40… then 30… then 20… then 10! That is haggling, isn’t it?
Q: Why didn’t Abe continue to 7… 5… 3… or even 1? It may have been he knew there were none righteous in Sodom. But the point is, God allowed Abe to “haggle.”
In Gen 32, Jacob wrestled with God through the night. He would not let go until God blessed him! He was so tenacious God dislocated Jacob’s hip… AND blessed him… changing Jacob’s name to Israel. God promised all the nations of the world would be blessed thru him. Now, would that have happened if Jacob had not wrestled… haggled… w/ God?
The event most know about is in Judges 6 when Gideon “put out the fleece.” Gideon wanted to know FOR SURE he would be victorious in battle. Gideon asked God to make fleece wet & the ground dry. God did. Then Gideon reversed it, make the ground wet & fleece dry. God did. That was a bold move by Gideon… it was haggling w/ God for assurance.
Then God haggled with David in 1 Chron 21 when he sinned by numbering his Army (Looked for safety in his army rather than God). Because of David’s sin, GOD gave three options for punishment: 1) Three years of famine, 2) Three months of enemies defeating him in battle, or 3) Three days of pestilence killing people throughout Israel.
David couldn’t choose… & said in v 13, “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” In three days 70k died in Israel. We might call that haggling, although in reverse…
It seems there is precedent in Scripture for haggling… but we must be careful.
The point where care must be taken is in relation to attitude & desire. Abe didn’t haggle for himself, but others! Jacob’s desire was to have God… THE ultimate desire & thus not selfish (“Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness for they will be filled”). Gideon’s desire was for Israel’s continuance… not personal gain. David knew many innocents would die & he chose to trust God’s mercy (Note: God can do what he desires as Sovereign).
If we haggle with God selfishly, it is improper. Remember Ja 4:2-3, “You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask & do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Abe, Jacob, Gideon, & David were concerned about others before themselves… & allowed haggling as a result.
Now let me turn the thought a bit because haggling has something of a negative connotation. I submit that rather than haggle with God, we do something different in approaching Him. I suggest we don’t haggle but rather be bold in our prayer requests. Let me explain… using Scripture as a foundation.
Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Heb 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy & find grace to help in time of need.
Heb 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists & that He rewards those who seek Him.
Christians don’t need or have to haggle w/ God. We don’t need to haggle with a person who is on your side, loves you, & wills your ultimate best! (Pause) Did you get that? We have a business relationship with God. He desires… wills… & works for our good! God is so much on our side that He prays along with us… for our good! Consider Ro 8…
26 The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
In our human weakness we think in time of need can “make a deal” w/ God. We pray, “God if you will _______ , then I will _____ .” Problem is God doesn’t need anything. An “If/then” w/ God is futile. Everything is already His!
Instead God sets aside haggling. He opens the door to His throne. He gives us the honor of asking Him of bringing all our requests to Him. He then promises that He will… every time we pray… reply in such a way that is for our best!
Rather than haggling… making deals… or trying to convince Him of something, we’re told in Heb 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy & find grace to help in time of need.”
We have confidence… assurance… certainty… that when we come before God w/ our needs He WILL answer us positively! We WILL receive His help. We DON’T have to be anxious or worry!
My goal in this message is to relieve stress, anxiety, & worry in our life events. OUR… (This includes ME)
John Newton (Amazing Grace) wrote about requests & prayer, “Thou art coming to a King, large petitions w/ thee bring, for His grace & power are such none can ever ask too much.” I like that!
One of my favorite verses answers a prayer question… “How big is your God?” The answer is Eph 3:20 from the NIV: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…”
What can God do? More than we ask or imagine! Why? Because He’s God! Our problem is we are both impatient & question whether God will “Get it right” from our perspective. Instead we must fall back on faith, trusting God… taking our requests to Him. As is found in 1 Pet 5:6-7,
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
Oh Christian… don’t worry about haggling w/ God, He’s already on your side… loves you… & desires your best. Take all your burdens to Him boldly. No request is too trivial or too big! Again, as John Newton of “Amazing Grace” fame wrote…
Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace & power are such none can ever ask too much.