“The men believed the evidence they were shown, but they did not ask the LORD about it.” Joshua 9:14 (God’s Word Translation)
Have you ever regretted not asking God’s guidance for an important decision that ended up going bad? Truth be told, most of us have had to face the stark reality that a bad decision might have been avoided if we had only taken time to first pray about it.
Those who have made prayerless decisions can totally identify with the glaring oversight Joshua and the Israelites committed in not inquiring of the Lord before they made a commitment of peace and protection for the Gibeonites. The story of the Gibeonite deception early in Israel’s campaign to conquer Canaan is a benchmark warning about the danger in making important decisions without first asking the Lord about it. (Joshua 9)
I learned a similar lesson early in my ministry as a youth pastor. I had this great idea to do a youth event with my group of about 50 students. An assistant and I planned a kite flying contest for an upcoming Saturday. We put quite a bit of work into designing various awards and into promoting the event. We advertised prizes for the highest flying kite, the biggest and smallest kites, and the grand prize was going to be for the best designed kite utilizing scripture.
We were pleased that when the day of the kite flying contest dawned it was bright and sunny with a great spring breeze. Arriving at the church early, we made all the necessary preparations, setting out the snacks, displaying the awards, and readying our own kites for the big event. As we waited expectantly, the starting time for the contest came and went and still no one had shown up. Beginning to wonder we double checked the time listed on our advertising flyer and sure enough we had published the right time. Where was everyone? As we counted each passing minute on our watches we became increasing perplexed. As the added minutes turned into an hour our perplexity turned into disappointment. Not a single person came. It was just us, our kites, the snacks and our awards.
Feeling very defeated we finally went into the church sanctuary and knelt at the altar. There, as we were crying out to God, the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper to my heart. “Did you pray about this idea before implementing it?” The question caught me off guard. Sadly and with chagrin I had to admit that we hadn’t. How could we have missed such a critical aspect of our planning? We had no recourse but to on the spot, bow our hearts before the Lord and ask His forgiveness for being so presumptive in doing His work without asking His guidance and favor.
It was an embarrassing, yet deeply ingrained lesson that has served me well throughout the years. The Lord has used it as a frequent reminder in my life to be sure to inquire of the Him before making commitments to seemingly great ideas.
Things are not always as they appear. Our reasoning abilities have their limitations. Only God knows the whole story and what the future holds.
Most decision making in our everyday lives is not so much about moral right or wrong as it is about what is wise or unwise. As a result we frequently have no clear biblical directives to guide us and no text book answers informing our choices. Many decisions are simply value judgments as to what seems best based on what we know from past experience, present appearances and reasoning as to future outcomes.
The Israelite’s vulnerability to deception was rooted in self reliance upon their own perceptions and reasoning. They made assumptions based on a limited perspective and flawed rationale. They forgot to ask the Lord for His perspective. If they had, they would not have been deceived by the Gibeonite’s tale of journeying from a far country. Undoubtedly the moldy bread, worn-out sacks and tattered clothes would have all been exposed as a ruse if they had taken time to pray for God’s guidance.
Important decisions in life requiring long term commitments, especially those of a contractual nature, need to be weighed before the Lord in prayer. We may plan our way, but it is ultimately God who determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Asking God for His guidance in our steps will help us avoid costly missteps. Be sure you pray it before you okay it!
Has the Lord taught you any lessons about prayer and decision making? Please share them.
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