No Time to Ask God


Here’s No Time to Ask God

What do I do next?

That’s one of our biggest questions in crises, when our worlds are reeling, and we don’t know where to turn. There so many decisions we need to make – financial, relational, medical, legal choices that involve where we live, what we do and who we trust. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, there is one thing that applies to everyone who is looking for wisdom in a troubled situation.

Wait for God. Don’t panic, feeling you need to make drastic changes, figure out everything, have it all buttoned up. God knows what you need, and he can show you what to do. But you need to ask him first.

In 1 Samuel 14, Saul was in a battle with the Philistines and wasn’t sure what to do. Many of his people had left and he had already disobeyed God in his panic, offering a sacrifice when he was supposed to wait for Samuel as God had instructed. Saul was now figuring out who was left to go to battle with him and began talking to the priest, Ahijah, who had brought the ark of God. Saul was talking to the priest to get the Lord’s counsel on how to move forward, which Ahijah was in the process of doing by raising his hands to ask God for direction, when Saul stopped him.

Saul had been simultaneously watching the Philistine camp, and saw their unrest and confusion increasing. So rather than wait to hear from God, Saul felt it was time to act immediately. The NLT says that Saul said to Ahijah, ““Never mind; let’s get going!” There was no time to consult the Lord. He was fine to ask God what to do at leisure, but in the heat of the battle, Saul didn’t have time even to wait to hear from God.

This anxiousness to act rather than to wait for God was Saul’s downfall. He had done that earlier, and Samuel had told him that God was going to take the kingdom away from him because of it.

Unfortunately, I understand Saul’s impatience all too well. Countless times in my life I have panicked, looking at the situation in front of me, wanting desperately to fix it. I have marshaled all my resources, forgotten to pray, and forged ahead because I didn’t think about asking God. Or I was in too much of a hurry to wait for an answer. Or I didn’t think God would answer me, or at least not in time.

As I write this, I realize how foolish my impatience is.

God does answer our prayers for wisdom, but we must ask expecting that he will answer. As James 1: 5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” When we ask, we need to expect God to reply. And we need to look around for his answer, trusting he wants to reveal it to us. Our prayer should not be merely a good luck charm, to make sure we’ve covered all the bases, while we forge ahead with what we think is best. Rather, after we pray, we need to immediately look around and see how God is answering us.

It’s a simple thing to do, yet I neglect it all the time. I ask for wisdom and then don’t even look for it. God answers through circumstances, through Scripture, through friends, and through the Holy Spirit, which is revealed as his still small voice in prayer. The Lord doesn’t want to hide his will from us, as if it’s some puzzle that he hopes we can unlock.

Psalm 25 reminds me that God longs to show us what to do but we need to ask and wait. David says, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me…for you I wait all the day long.” We cry out to God and ask him to show us what to do.

In the chaos and confusion that follows unexpected suffering, it’s easy to panic and feel forced to make quick decisions. And though we may need to act quickly, we always have time to sincerely ask God for wisdom. In suffering, I have found that God often directs me most clearly.  

I turned to Isaiah 30:18-22 repeatedly when my first husband left, and I was desperate for direction and wisdom on multiple fronts. Every word of this passage was precious to me. It helped me wait for God knowing that he is waiting to be gracious to me, wants to hear me, wants to advise me, and wants to give me himself in my suffering. The Lord is answering me even as I ask and I need to just open my eyes, stop panicking, and ask him for wisdom and peace.

It says, “The Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you… blessed are those who wait for him… He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

I get emotional even reading this passage because God kept every word of this promise when life seemed impossibly dark.

From that time, God taught me many things. I learned to ask and expect God to answer. I learned not to act impulsively, but to trust that God would show me what to do. I learned not to let panic rule me but to let God and his word do that.

Saul didn’t take the extra time to ask God and wait for his answer but rather looked at his circumstances and felt he needed to push ahead in his own strength. And God ultimately removed Saul’s kingdom because the Lord “sought a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

So if you are struggling today, wondering which way to turn, I encourage you ask God. You have time. It doesn’t necessitate waiting months or weeks or even days for him to answer, but it does require intentionally and specifically asking him, and then looking around expectantly for his answer.

He who calls you is faithful. He will surely do it (1 Thess 5:24).

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