I came across an intriguing but sad comment by a reader recently. He said that he once asked God for direction, but God didn’t answer. So he had to make his own way, and it hadn’t turned out well. I couldn’t help but wonder if God had not answered or if this reader simply had not listened or not liked what he heard.
In fact, he had made some pretty serious, even criminal mistakes, all of which he blamed on God for not responding to his request for direction.
I know in my own faith walk, when I choose poorly, it is often the result of trusting in my own wisdom instead of waiting for and insisting on an answer from God.
I get tired of waiting and choose my own adventure — and then blame God for what happens next.
It happened just a few months ago. I was swamped while working on my next book with my co-author Erick Erickson (You Will Be Made to Care: The War on Faith, Family, and Your Freedom to Believe — releasing February 22, 2016), and so I thought I could take a shortcut and choose what seemed to be a plug-n-play option for some of our children’s schooling.
Let’s just say it hasn’t worked out well. I should have waited for more clarity from God and listened to that small voice that was nagging me to reconsider.
It seemed to me that God even put up roadblocks to keep me from moving in this direction, but I blew them over and plunged ahead. Now our family is paying for it in many ways and can’t get out of it for the rest of the school year.
I confess that I did not earnestly seek God’s direction. I pushed what I thought was the easy button instead of investing the energy into seeking God’s wisdom and patiently waiting on the answer.
Which brings me to the fifth secret about knowing God’s will: If you need to hear God’s voice, talk with Him early and often.
It’s a Dialogue, Not a Monologue
Talking with God is different than talking at God. When most of us pray, we sound as if we’re leaving a voicemail, as if we’re submitting our support ticket because we’ve experienced technical difficulties.
But we’re not actually listening for His reply. We’re plotting what we will do if and when we get no response.
I unpack more of what I call multi-tasking prayer in my book A Story Worth Telling. [You can still get a FREE chapter here.] Sometimes I suspect the Holy Spirit must hear our hurried, fragmented prayers and conclude that we are more than slightly inebriated.
It goes back to the first secret in this series, If you don’t expect to be led by God, you’ll never go anywhere that matters.
We have not because we don’t make it a priority to ask — and keep asking until we get an answer.
- Ask Early. Make it your number-one priority in the day to storm God’s throne boldly, with confidence, because of what Christ has done for us. Consider fasting to focus your heart and prepare yourself to listen to God’s answer when it arrives. Make your request for clarity the first — and the last — thing you do every day.
- Ask Often. Be persistent. Hurried, unfocused prayer offered on occasion will not get the results you need. When you want to know God’s best for your life, you must pray like the woman Jesus described in his parable who pounded on the door of the judge until she got the ruling she required (Luke 18:5). Our heavenly father longs for us to pound on His door, to lay hold of Him and cry as Jacob did, I’m not letting go until you bless me with clarity for the road ahead (Genesis 32:26). Our persistence proves our passion. Our motion is evidence of our devotion.
I’m not saying any of this is easy. I confess that sometimes I don’t like to to pray. Just saying. I think it’s a pride thing. I want to say, I’ve got this one. If you don’t have that problem, God bless you.
But for me, acknowledging that I need help takes some doing. Even though I know it to be true, there’s something humbling about admitting it every morning.
And I don’t like it. Which is exactly why I must do it.
God gives grace to the humble. The proud, not so much.
God has His own agenda and His own purposes. Like Aslan of Narnia fame, “He’ll be coming and going…. One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
Our God is a consuming fire, not our personal concierge.
But He has told us that when we ask — and insist — on wisdom for life direction, He will give it.
If only we have the faith to prove Him faithful.
Question: Am I the only one who has rushed ahead without waiting for God to reply? What tips have you learned about focused, persistent prayer that may be of help to others on this journey to live an authentic life? Share your thoughts by clicking here.
Next: The Seventh Secret You Need to Know about God’s Will