Praying God’s Will
Every week, ask at least a dozen guys: “How can I pray for you?” Number one frequently asked question from guys I’ve met for the first time is this: “Would you pray that God gives me clarity about His will for my life?”
Sounds like a good request, right? I, lately (smothered with a ketchup bottle of compassion), explain that there’s not much to pray about there.
Huh? OK, I’ll explain my… explanation…
God has given us scripture so that we can know more about His will for our lives: to know Christ and to make Him known. In fact, part of God’s character is revelation: He is a God who reveals Himself. The reason we are without excuse for our sins is right there in Romans 1:20: God has made some of Himself plain to see right there in the natural world. God is a god of revelation – He’s already revealing. But, where we get “wrapped around the axle” is when “God isn’t revealing enough of His plan for us, fast enough…”
“God isn’t revealing enough of His plan for us fast enough.”
We’re not the main character.
When the tables were (and sometimes, still are) turned and I was (do) ask this question, I later realize I’ve mistaken myself for the main character – God is the main character of the Bible, my story, our lives. He is not beholden to men and debtor to me that He would owe me an explanation. As the scriptures tell us:
“what is man that You remember him,
the son of man that You look after him? (Psalm 8:4 HSCB)”
Who gets to determine how much is enough revelation?
Again, we’re in God’s territory, on His time, and the revelation we get is a privilege, not a right. Just as God is right in giving out mercy and compassion to whom He chooses and in the quantity He chooses, He is also right in giving out as much or as little information as He chooses… to whom He chooses.
“Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:20-21)”
When we demand more revelation than God has given, we sin in the area of pride: “God owes me more info than He’s given me.”
Who am I to determine how fast God “ought” to be revealing His will?
Reading about Elijah in 1Kings 17, we have the benefit of hindsight – we know how the story ends. But, to Elijah, God essentially got on Twitter and sent the prophet two tweets – less than 140 characters in the NIV, ESV, HSCB, etc… “Tell Ahab, ‘drought until My say-so’.” Second tweet: “Supper is waiting for you down by the river. Come ‘n get it!”
How do you feel if you’re Elijah in that situation? Are you content with what little info you have? Or, are you desperate for more detail… faster…?
(See 1Kings 17:1-4)
Elijah is among the ranks of many great men of God who despaired for their lives. James even tells us that Elijah, as great as he was, was just like us – human. (James 5:17) Does it comfort you that God kept this man, whose name appears all over the old and new testaments, on a need to know basis? Does it comfort you that Jesus taught the disciples to pray ‘not my will, but Yours’?
If Elijah – professional prophet – appointed by God to deliver His direct word to kings, got little more than two tweets at a time, what makes you and I think we’re going to get God’s 14-point blueprint for our lives by Thursday? What right, when we have the full canon of scripture and the indwelling Holy Spirit that Elijah didn’t have, do you and I have to demand more from the star and author of the scripture (and our faith – see Heb. 12:2)?!
Good answer… We don’t. But, it’s okay. God sees the whole picture…
Asking Higher Quality Questions
While it’s not license for us to demand from God what He has no obligation to give, we’re wise to start with the heart of the question: our heart. Jesus told us “abide in me and you will bear much fruit”. See John 15… And, let me ask you the same question He keeps asking me when I’m begging for the 14 Point Plan by Thursday: What would you do if He gave you that plan? More importantly, how would you do it?
Most of us would rightly go after the 14 point plan point by point. But, we’d miss God. Desperation is our friend, as long as it is God we are desperate for. The more information we have about God’s plan for our lives, the more likely we are to be distracted by the plan and away from the Planner.
God is not out to manipulate us by keeping us on a short leash… He’s just smarter than we are. He knows that “with much wisdom comes much sorrow” (Ecc. 1:18) and that when we ask Him for things, we often ask with selfish motive to use what we get for our purposes rather than His. Desperation keeps us clinging to the vine – not just for information, but for life. And, doesn’t He know that we need life more than information, anyway? God wants us to be to Him what He is for us: fully present.
Prayer: “Lord, would you give me more of you… always? Would you help me to be satisfied…content with the plan You’ve given me on a need to know basis.”
Pretty sure we can all predict the answer for that one…