Praying Before Decisions

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples:  and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).

The decisions we make determine the direction of our life.  Wise or foolish.  Godly or ungodly.  Moral or immoral.  Ethical or unethical.  Profitable or unprofitable.  Decisions matter.  In politics it is said, “Elections have consequences.”  But so do most other decisions. If there were a time we need to pray, it is before make decisions. And Jesus again gives us a picture of this.  This moment came on the day and night leading up to Jesus selecting the Twelve Apostles. Notice the role that prayer played in this decision.

The Time To Pray Is Before

Again we see Jesus being very intentional about His prayer life. This was no accident or coincidence. Knowing that this decision was coming, Jesus took time ahead of time to pray about the decision. He was proactive, not reactive. He stayed ahead of the curve. So when the time came, He already had been praying and seeking the Father’s will, guidance, wisdom.

As you anticipate decisions that have to be made, don’t wait until the time comes. Don’t “wing it” and hope for the best. Take time ahead of time to pray about it. Be intentional, proactive. You need to seek God’s face about it. Ask God to reveal His will in the matter. Ask Him for wisdom, discernment, faith, and courage. He will grant it.

The Greater The Decision, The More Prayer Is Needed

This decision would have long-term, historical, even eternal consequences. So Jesus didn’t just pause for a quick, silent request. He “continued all night in prayer to God.” Hours of praying, hours of not sleeping, hours of seeking God. Did Jesus do this for every decision? No. But this one was of particular importance. When daybreak came, He gathered all His followers and selected the Twelve, with new titles: “apostles” (sent ones).

You may not need to pray for hours about where to eat lunch, or what flavor of ice cream to choose (though I’m pretty indecisive). But when the decisions are truly important, we need to spend plenty of time in prayer.  For some, it is a business decision.  For others, it is a relationship decision, or career move.  For our nation, it is a presidential election.  The more important the decision is, the greater the consequences, the more time you need to spend in prayer. Don’t be hasty. Don’t jump into things. Don’t make commitments that you will regret. Pray about it! Pray a lot about it! Take all the time you need, wait on the Lord, and He will guide you.

The take-away? Decisions have consequences. Let us be sure to make prayer a part of the picture – a vital part.  How have you experience this in a specific decision?

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Enquiring Of God In Prayer – When Opportunity Knocks

II Samuel 2:1-4a

I cannot recall how many times I have seen people jump at the first opportunity they get, only to find themselves in situations they wish they had avoided. It happens with jobs, relationships, even ministry opportunities. That is why “enquiring of God in prayer” is so vital. Let’s learn a lesson from David.

This story unfolds at a critical moment in the history of Israel. David, still a national fugitive, is living in the Philistine town of Ziklag with his family and the families of his followers. He gets word that King Saul, and especially Prince Jonathan, have died in battle. The entire nation goes into mourning, even David. “How are the mighty fallen!” (1:19). Here is where our story picks up.

 

David’s Moment Of Opportunity

We have to remember that David knew this day was coming. Years earlier, God told the prophet Samuel that He had rejected Saul as king over Israel and sent Samuel to anoint David to be the next king. Even Jonathan, Saul’s son, knew that David would be the next king (not him).

And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons” (I Samuel 16:1).

But what David did not know was when. He kept serving Saul, year after year, playing music, leading the army in battle, earning the respect and trust of the people. David even passed up more than one opportunity to kill Saul when Saul was out to kill him! It wasn’t God’s timing. Now Saul was dead, and David had the opportunity to step in and seize the leadership of the nation. Talk about a job offer! A promotion opportunity!

 

David’s Response To This Moment

As soon as the time of mourning passed, David went to “enquire of the Lord” (vs. 1). David didn’t assume that it was God’s will for him to go back to Israel. He didn’t presume to know God’s timing for the transition. He turned to God and began asking questions.

Should I go up to the cities of Judah?” In other words, was it even time to move back at all? God responded, “Go up.” David then asks a follow up question, “Where should I go to?” God replied, “Go to Hebron.” Hebron was that famous town that Caleb wanted when they conquered the Promised Land.

David wanted God to guide every aspect of his decisions. This would affect his future, his family, and his country. David was willing to listen to God’s voice, and wait on God’s timing. Even when the opportunity must have seemed like a “no-brainer” to everyone around him, David still took time to pray about it and seek God’s counsel and direction.

The results were worth it (vs. 2-4a, 11). David was anointed king over the house of Judah for seven years, then would become king over all Israel for another 33 years. He would reign as king for four decades. But the transition came about by David enquiring of God in prayer.

 

This is how we ought to approach every decision – especially those that will impact the direction of our life and family. Too many times Christians assume that just because they get offered a job or promotion, or because they meet a great guy or girl, or face any “open door,” that it is God’s will. The devil can open doors too! Human wisdom, determination, and ingenuity can open doors. That doesn’t mean it’s God will and God’s time (both are vital). Our most important response to moment’s of opportunity is to turn to God in prayer (guided by His Word) for wisdom, discernment, and direction.