More: Bright Saturday

Prayers for Guidance

Not that long ago, a young friend of mine faced one of the many quandaries of life. She had for years participated in a group in order to do an activity she truly loves. The group had recently begun pushing her and nagging her to do something on a timeline they thought would be appropriate.

They wanted her–without understanding her situation–to accomplish something. They wanted her to do it NOW, on their timeline, not on her timeline. Even though she’d been with them once a week for several years, they didn’t really understand the timeline she was following.

My young friend understands herself extremely well. She knew their timeline would not work for her. After all, she knows that the timeline the world expects is not the timeline God expects.

It was HER timeline, not theirs. It was her slow-boat to her goal, at a speed that didn’t overly stress her and disrupt her careful maintenance of stress to control a physical condition.

Her timeline was not their timeline, but they couldn’t see that.

The World’s Guidance

How many times have we heard people asking five-year-olds, “Is he your boyfriend?” Or they say, “Oh, how sweet you are to that little girl. Is she your girlfriend?”

Why are they asking children about an adult relationship?

Newly married couples are nagged by well-intentioned relatives: “When’s the baby due?” The couple may want to wait a few years, to know their finances won’t be crushed, and to have stability in commitments and obligations before bringing another life into the world.

Young people who are trying to find a job that won’t send them home in tears hear comments like “That’s good money. I wouldn’t leave it.” They don’t know how the boss screams daily. They don’t know that co-workers snipe constantly. They don’t know the countless overtime that occurs without chance of remuneration.

Or someone approaching retirement may constantly hear, “Have you set the final date?” The potential retiree may need a couple more years to settle finances down so they can move back to their original home where family still is or get things lined up for when the 9-to-5 job ends. They may be asked, “When will you leave so this person can have your job?”

Ouch. My apologies–because I did that to someone once. Double Ouch.

Needing Guidance

My young friend put up with the group’s nagging (actually, it sounds more like bullying the more she describes what was happening). She allowed the stress to escalate just so she could continuing doing the activity she loved. Then came two last straws:

1] a push that she participate in an expensive seminar, because that would financially benefit the group’s leader.

2] a note filled with manipulative comments, blaming someone else for my young friend’s reticence.

On her own, she decided to sever ties with the group. She didn’t need the on-going stress caused by the constant nagging. She didn’t need the comments that sought to undermine her relationship with a loved one. Nor did she need to drain her financial resources just to help the leader improve hers.

She didn’t want to quit the activity. Yet she was so tired of their pushing.

“Take a brief break,” we advised. “Go back in a little while.”

“But they’ll just keep pushing me. And I want to do my activity.”

“Take a brief break and look around for alternatives in the meantime.”

After a couple of hours searching, we found three alternate solutions. And she discovered a benefit with these that she had not previously considered investigating:  the activity would now cost her less money.

Yet still she hesitated.

Praying for Guidance

When she went to bed, she prayed for guidance before she dropped off to sleep. And woke up with her solution.

Prayer is a conversation with God. The things that we bring up with friends and family are the same things that we can bring up with God.

The Bible contains many examples of prayers:  the model Lord’s Prayer, prayers of thanksgiving and praise, and prayers that others will get what comes to them. (Think about Jonah’s angry prayer after Ninevah’s repentance.)

We pray for things we want, for answers to questions (even though we may want a “yes” and God says “no” or “wait”), and for help that others need to receive.

And we can pray for guidance.

David also prayed for guidance.

Psalm 143:1-9

Hear me, David prays. Have mercy on me, even though I sin in countless ways.

  • Hear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplications. Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness! [1]
  • And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous. [2]

I am being crushed. I am overwhelmed.

  • For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead. [3]
  • Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart is appalled within me. [4]

I know you, God, have helped me before. I know that your help will turn my desert into a lush oasis.

  • I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. [5]
  • I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah. [6]

Answer me quickly. Give me your loving and kind answer by morning. I trust your advice, for you care for me. You are my sanctuary from these pressures.

  • Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down to the pit. [7]
  • Let me hear your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. [8]
  • Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in You. [9]

Keep me in your path, God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

  • Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. [10]

A simple conversation with God. That’s all we need.

Going Forward

This Bright Saturday post is the last of our More blogs surrounding Easter.

The next major holy day of the church year is Ascension Day, marking Christ’s ascent to Heaven after his 40 days with the apostles following His Resurrection. Ascension always falls on a Thursday; this year it’s May 21.

The 11 apostles spent the next days after Christ’s ascension in prayer and fasting with other disciples. Then, on the 10th day, the Holy Spirit descended as flaming tongues and alit on their heads. This is Pentecost.

Pentecost coincides with the Jewish commemoration of the Feast of Weeks, which marks when the Lord gave the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. That connection–the law given to Moses and Christ’s fulfillment of the requirements of the law–is a sacred connection. This year, Pentecost is May 31.

As the Church Year progresses, look for more. You will discover that God is infinitely more than you ever thought.