Of all the prayers that rise from human lips on this troubled planet, the vast majority must be some version of, “Help!” We might call that prayer the Cry of the Heart. But second place of “most often prayed” has to be in the genre of, “God—what am I supposed to do?” Guidance, clarity, direction—doesn’t that seem to be one of the main reasons we pray at all? What do we do about our son? Should I take this job? Where should I go to school? What am I supposed to do with my life? Have I done enough to be saved?
When seeking clarity we will almost always ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Both are needed. Sometimes, wisdom holds the answer. Other times, we need a revelation from God (as did Ananias, when the situation seemed to shout, “Don’t go near Saul!”).
The key to receiving answers to prayers for guidance is to let go our constant attempt to “figure things out.” Really, it is almost incessant; I will be in the midst of seeking the God of four hundred billion suns on some issue of guidance, and in the midst of asking him I am thinking through the options, trying to figure it out as I pray. I’ve been in hundreds of meetings where Christians gathered to seek God’s counsel on some matter, but they spent the entire time trying to “figure it out.” I must be forthright here: God has some rather strong feelings about those who choose to walk in the light of their own counsel: “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment” (Isa. 50:10–11).
When it comes to the question of our salvation, the Reformation is very helpful. People used to believe that God blessed the righteous with material things and kept the wicked in poverty. They used a debit/credit method of monitoring their relationship with God. Good works earned credit but misdeeds caused a debit. It put our salvation in our own hands and removed the mercy and grace of God from the equation. We are given the gift of faith so that we can trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ alone for our salvation!
Lord, help us; Father, forgive us. Forgive us for trying to figure it out even while we are in the motions of seeking your help. We surrender figuring it out; we would rather have your light and your counsel.