FirstLife Blog

Day 33: Say Please

Posted by Brent McDougal on

(7 minute read)

“…just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts (1 Thessalonians 2:4, ESV).”

My favorite memory of my father happened through Dixie Youth Baseball. Dad was my biggest fan. He always showed up for my games, usually staying in the stands. On this occasion, however, he actually came out on the field.

I hit the ball to center field and headed for first. As I rounded the base, I could see the outfielder overthrowing the second baseman. I dashed for second. Without thinking, I decided to keep running for third. By this time, the catcher had the ball and threw to the third baseman. 

He bobbled the ball. I saw my chance. Rounding third, I headed for home, sliding safe under the catcher’s mitt just as he got the ball. 

It was an in-the-park home run. But what happened next is seared in my memory and always brings a smile to my face.

Dad came running out on the field and met me at home plate. I’m sure that wasn’t allowed. Like me, he wasn’t thinking clearly. He had a huge smile on his face and open arms. He was more excited than I was. 

Someone once asked me if I could have one day back from childhood, what would it be?

That day.

Sons always want to please their fathers. We want our fathers to be "well pleased" with us (Matthew 3:17, NIV)." 

Sometimes, however, sons carry a lot of anger against their dads. Even though that day on the baseball field was special, I always wished there were more of them. My dad and I struggled to be close apart from baseball. He passed away in 2006, leaving me with quite a bit of baggage.

Even so, the impulse to please my father was always strong. 

Jesus had one driving desire: to please His Heavenly Father. He spoke of His relationship to Abba — father — in intimate terms. 

In John 8:28-29, Jesus says, “…I do nothing on my own but speak just what my Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him (NIV).”

He lived to please God. God was always with Him. In fact, Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:9b-10, ESV).” 

Do you live to please your Heavenly Father? 

George Müller had a common phrase in his prayers. He would say, “If it would please you, Lord…” The idea of pleasing God peppered his prayers. 

February 26, 1842: “My prayer this morning was in particular that the Lord would be pleased now to look in pity upon us…”

January 6, 1846: “I am now quietly waiting on the Lord’s pleasure.” 

December 5, 1850: “Lord, how can thy servant know thy will in this matter? Wilt thou be pleased to teach him?”

Toward the end of his life, on a sunny summer day, George Müller was interviewed by a fellow pastor named Charles R. Parsons. 

Reverend Parsons asked Müller about his prayer life, the work of the orphanages, and how God had supplied his needs. Müller’s spiritual strength was obvious even at an elderly age. 

"You have always found the Lord faithful to His promise, Mr. Müller?”

“Always!” Müller nearly shouted. “He has never failed me! For nearly seventy years every need in connection with this work has been supplied. The orphans, from the first until now have numbered nine thousand five hundred; but they have never wanted a meal. Hundreds of times we have commenced the day without a penny; but our Heavenly Father has sent supplies the moment they were actually required. There never was a time when we had no wholesome meal. During all these years I have been enabled to trust in the living God alone. Seven million five hundred thousand dollars have been sent to me in answer to prayer.”

Toward the close of the interview, Reverend Parsons said, "May I venture to ask you to give me a word of special counsel in regard to my own work for God?” 

Müller answered: "Seek entirely to depend on God for everything. Put yourself and your work into His hands. When thinking of any new undertaking, ask, Is this agreeable to the mind of God? Is it for His glory? If it is not for His glory, it is not for your good, and you must have nothing to do with it. Mind that! Having settled that a certain course is for the glory of God, begin it in His name and continue in it to the end. Undertake it in prayer and faith, and never give up!”

"And do not regard iniquity in your heart. If you do, the Lord will not hear you. Keep that before you always. Then trust in God. Depend only on Him. Wait on Him. Believe on Him. Expect great things from Him. Faint not if the blessing tarries. And above all, rely only on the merits of our adorable Lord and Savior, so that according to them and to nothing of your own, the prayers you offer and the work you do be accepted.”

God was pleased to supply Müller with all that he and the orphans needed. Asking God for those needs was not drudgery but a blessing. Müller wanted to please the Lord through simple faith and prayer.

Faith is what most pleases God. 

…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6, ESV).” 

There’s only one kind of prayer that God answers: the prayer of faith. Matthew 9:29b says, “According to your faith let it be done to you (NIV).” We see so little power in our lives because we exercise so little faith in our lives. 

What is faith? 

You may say, “I believe God can do it!” Believing that God can do it isn’t faith. God is able to do what you ask whether you have faith or not. You may also say, “I believe God might do it.” That isn’t faith, either. That’s hope. If, however, you say, “I believe God will do it” — that’s faith. It takes bold faith to pray a prayer like that. 

Scripture describes the kind of life that leads to believing, prevailing prayer. When you live to please only your Heavenly Father; when you trust in God with all of your life; when you live your life according to God’s will; when you forgive others like Jesus taught; when you give your life away like Jesus gave his life away; when you make God your delight; and when you ask in faith, you can expect that God will answer your prayers. 

Your prayer is only as powerful as your life. Jesus lived in a way that brought pleasure to God. 

Do you live to please Him?

Start today.

It could be that you could begin with your prayers. Begin to incorporate Müller’s phrase into your requests. “If it would please you, Lord…”

You could also begin with your schedule. I often jot down notes when I have time in the morning with God. I list names that come to mind, people to call later that day. I recall events ahead, asking for God’s help in meetings and counseling. 

Among these “to-do’s,” you can ask God to help you do the things that please the Lord most. 

Here’s a big prayer. Ask, “God, does my work please you? Is the way I spend most of my days, including the way that I gain income, pleasing to you?” If you wonder if it pleases the Lord, ask how God could recalibrate the way you work or give you a new work that would be more pleasing. God’s work through you is always about the gospel working in the world. You aren’t here to please people. 

Ultimately, our lives as followers of Jesus should aspire to mirror Jesus’ words: “I always do what pleases Him.” 

God delights in you. So delight in God.

It puts a smile on God’s face.

Prayer Principle #33: Your prayer is only as powerful as your life. 

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