‘God, please guide me’ we pray. Unfortunately, unlike the days of the burning bush, His signs and instructions tend to be very subtle. How do we know what He really wants for us, especially when our turbulent emotions can cloud our judgment?
Here are some ways to pray through the confusion and to find His guidance—no matter how subtle. Because God does guide, especially those who turn to Him with a sincere and willing heart. We only need to know how to listen, and this article will help us do just that.
Turn to scripture
The Bible is ‘God’s little instruction book,’ rich in wisdom on our relationship to God and other people (including our enemies!), the kind of attitude we should have, and how to order our priorities so that we can find true and lasting contentment. Remember, God’s ultimate will and intention for our lives is for us doesn’t change. He wants us to be happy, and the Bible is full of parables of people who go to him with their problems and seek counsel. Maybe you can find a character who you can identify with. Are you working too much like Martha? Overwhelmed by a huge responsibility, like Esther? Feeling stuck in a bad place, like Joseph in an Egyptian prison? What did God tell them?
Daily application provides insight
The Bible does give us many wonderful values and principles, but it’s up to us to apply them to our every day lives. The daily application makes us wiser and more sensitive to the lessons and opportunities in each situation to love, serve and obey God. Remember: how can we expect to follow God for the big things if we don’t follow Him for the small things?
God works with our subconscious—and works beyond our understanding
God gave us our mind, our spirit, and our emotions—and He may use those to guide us, even without our knowing. As the Proverbs say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.’
One of the best ways to allow God to guide us in all actions is to align our motives and goals with the clearest and strongest message of Jesus: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ If we act with love, and constantly steer our lives in the service of others, then God will lead us and move us in ways that we don’t know.
There is one story of a meeting between ethicist John Kavanaugh Mother Theresa. He asked her, ‘Pray that I have clarity.’ She said, ‘No. Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go.’ He pointed out that she seemed to have a great amount of clarity. She replied, ‘I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you will trust God.’
God gave us brains for a reason!
Trusting God doesn’t mean playing stupid. As Psalm 32:8-9 says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle.’ Don’t use God as an excuse to avoid making a decision, or rolling up your sleeves and actually doing good and honest hard work. God gives us directions, but we must still use our hands, and our brains.
God sometimes takes a step back
And sometimes, God withholds clarity and guidance to help us grow up. It’s like how parents won’t step in and do their kids’ homework for them. They know that the struggle, difficulty and occasional mistake is crucial for learning not just concepts but responsibility and perseverance. If we don’t act, because ‘God doesn’t give me a sign’ then we are making the mistake of the wicked servant in the parable of the talents. He did not invest or move—and thus he wasted what the master had given him.
In the same way, God never shows us more than we need to know. Partially because God wants us to grow up—how would we learn to love, forgive, trust, and be brave if everything were revealed all at once? And partially because He gave us freedom, and every day He invites us to take small steps towards Him and the dream we can achieve, with Him.
Photo from copiosa.org