Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
As those who care for others, who seek to encourage them during difficult seasons, I know there are many times when we have to make difficult decisions.
We might need to decide where someone we care about is going to live: in a nursing home, at their home with health care stopping in, or at our house. We might need to decide whether or not to have the surgery that may or may not work. We might need to decide if we’re going to give up this aspect of our life for now so that we can provide extra support for someone we love. Or maybe even if we’re going to take on extra work so they have the finances they need to cover medical costs.
Maybe we feel the need to move somewhere, or to pull our kids out of school, or to put them into public school, or to let go of a friendship, or to stop serving at church for a little while.
There are also the more everyday things like, “How can I pray for her today?” “Should I reach out to her today or give her some space?” “What can I say or do to help her?”
My friends, there are so many questions we need to bring to the Lord for discernment and guidance. And God is faithful. He will lead us to the right path for us. Because what’s right for you in this season of your life may not be right for me in this season of mine. While there are some absolutes as we follow Christ—love your neighbor, take care of your family—the way we carry these out look differently. And so we must take time to discern what God is asking us to do.
As we bring these questions before Him, there are also three prayers we can offer to Him so that we can hear Him more clearly: the prayer for indifference, the prayer for wisdom, and the prayer of quiet trust. Let’s look at each one more closely.
Prayer for Indifference
The first is the prayer for indifference. In the prayer of indifference, we let go of our desire for any particular outcome. Whatever God says is okay. Now, indifference doesn’t mean we don’t care; it just means we care about what God wants more than our own preferences or desires. Instead of attaching ourselves to a particular answer, we attach ourselves to God.
If He wants us to move, we’ll move. If He wants us to stay, we’ll stay.
If He wants us to take this job, we’ll take it. If He wants us to take that one, we will.
If He wants us to move forward with this particular project, we’re on it. But if He wants us to wait, we’ll wait.
There’s actually a bracelet I bought that says, “Wherever you lead, I will follow.” What a perfect reminder to follow Jesus wherever He leads me.
As Ruth Haley Barton writes, the prayer for indifference “… means ‘I am indifferent to anything but God’s will.’” Now, I’m going to be honest. Sometimes, it’s really, really hard to get to this place of being okay with whatever God says. To let go of a particular answer that we want. And so, maybe the place we have to start is with asking God to help us be indifferent, to want what He wants, to help us set aside our own desires.
As we move forward in the discernment process, it’s important to stop and ask if we are truly indifferent to anything but God’s will. If we are, we can move on. If not, it’s important to acknowledge that as we go through the process and ask God to help us let go of any attachment we might have. As Ruth writes, “Don’t judge yourself for it. Just notice it with compassion. If you are willing to do so, ask, What needs to die in me in order for the will of God to find room in my life? What do I need to let go of in order to receive some new gift of God?”
Prayer for Wisdom
When we are ready, we can offer up the prayer for wisdom. This is probably the one we think of most.
James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” I love that verse, because I need it often. And I’m glad that God is generous enough to share it with me, aren’t you? Yet to pray it honestly means we have to admit that we don’t know. We don’t know what course of action to take. We don’t know what to do.
Ruth describes a time when she and her board were praying through the question of “Should we go on, or should we just let go and shut it down?” What a tough question to ask. And she writes, “Our need for wisdom was profound. At that point, without anyone saying anything, we all sank to the floor and knelt at our chairs. The reason I remember it so clearly is that it was so odd. Most of the time when people sit at big tables in a board room, they try to maintain some semblance of dignity! But there was none of that on this day as we all fell to our knees. At first there were no words, just our bodies and spirits praying ‘with sighs too deep for words.’ It actually felt good to stop working so hard with our intellects and to trust Someone wiser than ourselves. The silence was weighty with longing, need and true poverty of spirit.”
As a result, someone in the group put forth a “third way” that seemed right to the group. A way they hadn’t considered before, but which was clearly from God.
God’s wisdom far exceeds our own. And He will guide us as to what we need to do to move forward. We just have to ask and then listen with an open heart.
Prayer of Quiet Trust
The third prayer is the prayer of quiet trust. In essence, we rest in the fact that God is good and we are wholly dependent on Him. We are “willing to trust God with everything that concerns [us], knowing that the will of God is the best thing that can happen to [us] under any circumstances.” We quietly sit in God’s presence. And often that comes with His “peace that passes understanding.” His supernatural peace that overcomes any worries or doubts or fears that we have.
After I had discerned God’s call to go “all in” with Love Does That, I felt this peace from Him. It doesn’t mean it was easy going from there on out. In fact, I cried almost the whole time I was on the phone with the pastor as I told him I was stepping down as children’s ministries director. But I still felt at peace, like I know I was doing what God had asked me to do. I was being obedient.
If you want to hear more about that decision and the discernment process behind it, go ahead and listen to episode 24.
Which one is hardest for you?
So as you bring your question before God, take the time to pray for indifference. Check to see if your heart is attached to anything other than what God wants. Then ask God for wisdom. He’s a generous God. He will give it to you. Finally, rest in the truth that God is good and He is taking good care of you.
Which one of these seems like the hardest for you? Where do you struggle with discerning God’s invitations to you? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know. Remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
Okay, that is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
RESOURCES + BIBLE VERSES:
- Book: Ruth Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s Will Together
- “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5 NLT)
- Episode 24: An Example in Spiritual Discernment and Decision Making: Going “All In” With Love Does That
INTERESTED IN WRITTEN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
I’d be honored to walk with you through a difficult season and help you discover God’s presence and work in your life.