“I don’t need to pray about that. The answer is obvious. “
We’re all used to asking God about things we’re unsure of.
- Should I move across the country to pursue a relationship?
- Should I volunteer to help that homeless family?
- Should I repair that aging appliance—or spring for a new one?
But what about times when we already know the answer, or think we do?
- After a year of unemployment, should I take that attractive job offer?
- All the experts say my otherwise terminal illness can be cured with a particular medication. Should I take it?
- We have plenty of cash (hah), but haven’t been to the market in ages. We’re contemplating making peanut butter sandwiches for dinner (again) when we have an unexpected visit from friends we haven’t seen in years. Should we go out to eat?
Few of us would ponder any of these decisions, much less pray over them. Of course I should accept that job. What an opportunity! Of course I should take the medicine, and be grateful for it. Of course we should go to a restaurant with our friends. And most of the time, we’d be right to do so. But even when we think we know the answer, it’s a good idea to first check in with God. He just might have another idea.
Think about the time Jesus fed 5,000 people (actually, it’s more like 20,000, since that 5,000 number didn’t include women and children). The disciples saw the crowds and realized it was dinner time. All they had were five loaves (think pita bread) and two small fish (and we’re not talking albacore). The obvious thing to do was dismiss the crowd so they could go into town to buy food.
It’s a good thing they checked with Jesus first. He had another idea—one so radical that it never would have occurred to the disciples. “You give them something to eat.”
Rather than going with the “of course” solution, the disciples obeyed Jesus. The result was an incredible miracle, as God multiplied their meager resources and fed the crowd. Amazingly, they ended up with more than they’d started with!
I’m sure things would have eventually worked out if the crowd had dispersed to find food. Scripture says they were in a remote place. Perhaps they would have been weak with hunger by the time they reached whatever passed for McDonalds in those days, but it’s unlikely anyone would have died. Jesus, however, had a much better solution—loaves and fishes and an example that we can learn much from. God still multiplies our resources when we give them to him.
Yes, God gave us brains for a reason; he expects us to use them, to make decisions, to function from day to day. But he never intended us to live on our own apart from him. We need his wisdom, his foresight, his supernatural ability. The only time we don’t need to ask is when God has already answered, either in the Bible or in another clear way. (I realize that at times I keep asking to put off having to obey what God has already told me!)
Once again I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6—
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)
As I’ve mentioned before, the phrase “in all your ways acknowledge Him” should better be translated (as the New Living Translation does) “Seek his will in all you do…” We aren’t just paying lip service. We need to fully depend on God.
Pete describes our need to check with God in this way: Always ask. Always apply. Always adore. In other ways, consult with God as we go about our day, be quick to obey what he says to do, and give him all the glory. Always ask… even when we think we know the answer.