I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
- Psalm 27:13-14
“I recently began to pray this way: God, reveal to me what You want for my life this year, and I’ll set those revelations as my primary goals.”
- Jason Cruise, The Man Minute
Like so many of us, Jason Cruise confesses in the ‘man minute’ entitled “Praying a Different Way” that he had often prayed for God to bless what he was about to do.
Have you done that? If you haven’t, I’ll do the paperwork for your sainthood.
An example: We want a new job. Our dream job falls in our lap. We were praying for that one dream job to come along. We prayed a big ‘Thank you’ when it came along. Then the entire site where you were doing your dream job gets shut down three years later and it takes way too long to get any other job. By then, you’ll take anything.
Or maybe that was just me.
The point here is that we place our goal in front of us and pray that God will bless it rather than asking God, “What is Your goal for us?” When it comes to employment, we may have certain standards. When it comes to spouses, we may have certain standards. But God has a higher standard still.
Our problem is that our lives are like a blink of the eye. When things are going poorly, it can drag. For you fellow seasoned individuals (better than saying oldies), life sometimes sounds like playing a 45 at 33 and a third. I’ve been there when it felt like 78 played at 33 and a third. Yet, I look back and I can remember building my first snowman. I can remember showing up for work at my first full-time job. In some ways it seems like yesterday. How can it go so fast, but drag along what happening?
When you have bills and not enough money, the end of the month seems to get here quicker than a blink of the eye, no matter how much time drags.
But when you have some major decision to make, one of the best ways to get to a quick answer is to pray and then wait for God’s answer. Wait? I’m in a hurry. There are just ## shopping days until…
Yes, wait. And you aren’t going to hear God’s answer unless you enter into a silent meditation of God’s Holy Word.
Hold on now! You expect me to get to a quicker, better answer by waiting, obtaining silence, and spending even more time by reading the Bible? Well, I can’t wait. There is no such thing as silence in the world today. And I read all of those Bible stories when I was a kid.
I often talk about bad bosses, but one of the good ones was ‘Daddy Earl’. He’d go to the men’s room when he had a choice of ‘big’ decisions to make and he’d sit in the center stall. When some of his guys came in for their ablutions, he’d talk to himself, out loud, from the center stall. If, within a couple of days, everyone was disgruntled about the direction that the department was going, he’d scratch through that idea and go back to the men’s room with his next option. When people started complimenting him on his greatness as a superintendent, he went with that idea. He found the bathroom gossip travelled faster and got more honest results from the rank and file.
The point to this story is that he had options, and he was wise enough to consider all options, not just the one he liked the most. He then spent time waiting. He wasn’t praying and then waiting for God’s answer, but it was roughly the same thing.
When you pray, it is very rare when God speaks in a loud voice, right then and there. No, it may take a while. Often times with me and my friends, the voice comes while reading the Bible a few days later. You either see that God will bless you as He blessed Mr. “X” in one book of the Bible or you see how Mr. “Y” in a different story went down that road to ultimate destruction. If you don’t pray, wait, study, and listen, you might just miss it. Those old Bible stories of your youth become completely different stories when you are facing the same type of decision.
If you don’t seek and follow God’s plan for your life, you might just spend 10, 20, 30, or 40 years in the wilderness. Isn’t it odd that most people have a working career of about 40 years and the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years? Or is that just me?
Yet, we carry our life routine into our church routine. We are determined to hammer the square peg into any round hole that we can find. We think of a great new program. It’s going to be a great blessing, according to us. We pray the usual prayer, “God, I thought of a great idea. You gave me my intellect, so the idea must be from You. Please, bless the idea. Thank you in advance. Amen.” Then the great new program is a flop. You have more volunteers than participants. You wonder why God let you down.
Sometimes, those new programs were designed by God to save that one soul that was blessed by the program. We can’t always have an altar call (or other type of call) and have half the stadium come forward. But that one soul being saved led to the angels singing.
The opposite can be true. You could have two hundred commitments and then come back to that church a year later to see there was no change at all. None of the ‘commitments’ were real.
Don’t ever get caught up in numbers.
But, if we can take the time to pray and wait for God’s answer, we can make God’s answer our goals. He’ll see His plan succeed.
God gives us the fruits of the Spirit. One is “patience’. Patience is required to wait for an answer from God. When you practice two-way communication with God more and more, God answers more readily. He might answer quickly in all cases, but until we learn to wait and listen, we miss His answer.
Wait. Listen. Then praise Him as you use the courage that God gives you to do God’s will.