When we face a challenge, a dilemma, or even a crisis…we tend to search high and low for the easy answer. We cry out to God, asking him to give us the magic pill that will make it all go away! We call our mom or our girlfriends, and we whine and complain about the problem, hoping they will have the magical, painless answer to our situation. Well, here’s the thing. The answer isn’t easy, but it is simple. Seek God’s counsel and then actually pause to listen.
Proverbs 18:13 says “To answer before listening, that is folly and shame.” Yet, that is exactly what many of us do. We complain to God. We pray that he would magically fix our situation in the way that WE say is best, and yet, we don’t actually consult the Bible to see what guidance he has for us. We pray that God would tell us what to do about the problem, yet we don’t actually pause to listen for the Holy Spirit’s quiet whisper of guidance.
The answer is simple. Dive into God’s Word. It will guide you. Psalm 119:105 says. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Ask God to give you direction through a quiet whisper to your spirit from the Holy Spirit, who is our counselor. John 14:26 says (in the Amplified Bible), “But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf, He will teach you all things.”
In any relationship, especially a marriage, there are going to be times when the two of you are in conflict. Perhaps your husband is breaking your heart through wrong behavior. At each of those times, we have to make really big decisions. Should I confront my husband on an issue where he appears to be out of line? Should I keep quiet and press into prayer, relying on the Holy Spirit to work in my husband’s heart? Should I compromise on an issue where we’ve been in conflict?
At these times, counsel from other godly women is very helpful, but honestly, my very best guidance comes from God himself. I just need to take a few moments to be quiet with Him and ask Him to speak direction into my mind and heart. Psalm 142:3 says “When my spirit faints within me, you know my way.” When I pause, close my eyes, and ask God in prayer to give me direction, I often sense a gentle nudge, or a prompting, or I feel like He’s speaking a word of direction into my mind in that moment. Unless the “prompting” goes against what the Bible would say, I trust that God has just spoken to me.
I did this recently on an issue between me and a close relative. I thought for sure I should make a certain decision, but once I spent just a few moments quieting myself and asking God to speak His counsel into my mind, I received guidance to go the exact opposite direction! He even allowed me to see why my original idea was flawed. Try this yourself. God is waiting at the door of your mind and heart. Open the door and let Him in.
We all want to receive guidance from the Lord. You may need to make a decision in your marriage or with your children or regarding your work situation, and you wonder which way to go. Well, the good news is that God promises to guide us! Psalm 32:8 says “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” The tricky thing is figuring out exactly how to access his counsel!
Here are two primary ways to access his wisdom and his counsel. The first is….spending time reading His Word. Duh. But how many times do we come up with excuses as to why we don’t have the time or energy to spend much time reading the Bible? Maybe it’s time to stop making excuses and DECIDE to make Bible reading a priority in your life. I bet you make time to brush your teeth and take a shower, so why can’t you carve out 15 minutes for reading the Bible every morning? 😊 Reading the Bible will give you direct guidance on so many decisions you’ll need to make throughout any given day. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Next, spend time worshipping God and in “listening prayer”. When we worship God, he draws near, and he longs to whisper to us through His Holy Spirit if we will strain to listen for that whisper to our souls. 1 Kings 19:12 “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” So try this. Put on some worship music, or start singing a worship song. As you praise Him, close your eyes and envision God with you. Now ask Him to whisper guidance to your heart. Strain to listen. Did he give you a vision or nudge your heart in some way? I believe He will guide you. Just make sure that anything you believe you hear from God does not contradict what He says in the Bible.
I don’t know about you, but I fall into a really crazy and unproductive pattern when I seek God for advice and direction. I intend to be a good listener, but instead of quieting myself and really straining for God to speak to me through his Holy Spirit, I keep….talking! In fact, one second after I ask God the question “what should I do about …..?”, I start mulling over the options. My thoughts start ricocheting in my head and after a few minutes, I feel like I’ve boiled down the choices to 3 or 4 options for God to choose from. Yikes!
The other day I found myself doing this again. This time, however, I heard God speak a word of correction (or what some might call rebuke!). I heard him say “Why are you multiple-choicing me?” He reminded me that He doesn’t need me to lay out options from which to choose. He reminded me that, often, his answer or direction is not even listed among my multiple-choice options! I heard him whisper to my spirit, “What if my answer is “e” and you have only given me A-D from which to choose?”
Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that I need to do less talking and more listening. This is the essence of James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”
By the way, one tip that has helped me quiet my thoughts so I can actually hear the Lord’s whisper of guidance is this: Close your eyes and envision being with the Lord. (I like to envision walking beside him in a beautiful meadow next to a quiet stream). Then, while your mind is occupied with that vision, ask your question. Within a few moments, I usually sense Him whispering a word to me, or giving me a vision, or bringing a Bible verse to mind that will guide me.