We don’t know what God wants us to pray
for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with
groanings that cannot be expressed in words
My friend has a habit of asking God for signs. In
doing so, His prayers tend to seek confirmation
of his feelings, as in “God, if You want me to
do ‘X,’ then please do ‘Y,’ and I’ll know it’s OK.”
Not surprisingly, this has created a dilemma. For my
friend feels that he should get back with his ex-girlfriend,
based on the way he prays. His ex, on the other hand,
feels strongly that God has told them not to get back
together. Ah, feelings.
Jesus told the religious leaders of His day: “Only an
evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous
sign” (Matthew 16:4). But He wasn’t making a blanket
statement to prevent anyone from seeking God’s
guidance. Rather, Jesus was accusing them of ignoring
the clear prophecies that told them He was the Messiah.
Proverbs gives us an abundance of direct signs as to
how to live our lives. Solomon, who wrote most verses
in the book, gave these instructions to his son: “Never
let loyalty and kindness leave you” (3:3). “Trust in the
Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own
understanding” (v.5). To drive his point home, Solomon
concluded: “Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil” (v.7).
God wants us to seek His guidance in prayer
(James 1:5). He has given us the instruction of the Holy
Spirit (John 14:26) and His Word, the Bible
(1 Thessalonians 2:13). He gives us mentors and wise leaders. He’s also given
us the ultimate example seen in Jesus (Philippians 2:4-5).
It’s wise to ask God for clear direction. But our prayers should never be
formulaic attempts to manipulate God. Real Christianity is not a system; it’s a
relationship with Jesus Himself. —Tim Gustafson
Read Romans 8:1-17
to learn about the Holy
Spirit’s role in guiding
our lives and decisions.
In Matthew 16:1-4, what
do you think is the “sign
of Jonah”? (v.4).
How do you seek God’s
guidance? Are your
attempts to manipulate
Him? How well are you
obeying God’s Word?