If is a very short word, but it can cause a lot of trouble in our thoughts and prayer life. It seems harmless enough, but it can be very corrosive.
- “If” is a speculative word. We waste precious time and energy on things that didn’t or haven’t happened. What if my circumstances were different? What if I had made other choices in my past? What if something happens to my health? “If” seems to promise a lot of possibilities, but it delivers nothing concrete.
- “If” takes our focus away from the present. We spend time wondering “what if..” about the future, or “if only..” about our past. And “if” is passive. It causes us to focus on fear and regret, instead of action and accountability.
- “If” only has two letters, but the first one is “I.” I don’t spend much time asking “if” someone else made the right choices (unless I’m judging them, which is also wrong), or if something good or bad will happen to my neighbors.
“If” doesn’t have to hurt our prayer life or take over our thoughts, but it must be kept in check. The Bible has a lot to say about letting the “ifs”, “what ifs”, and “if onlys” take over our thinking:
Jeremiah 17: 7-8
The Bible also uses the word “if” to focus our minds and prayers on action and on God’s promises:
2 Chronicles 15:2
There is a lot of power in that little word, “If.” If only we learn how to tame it!