I’m going to be doing a February series called Making Big Decisions. 2015 was a year of really big decisions for my husband and I as we both prayed about graduate school, applied all over the country, and had to decide on our respective schools. In having to make what felt like one big decision after another, I feel like we learned a ton of things along the way. The Making Big Decisions series is a 6-part series covering everything from overcoming doubt to attaining wisdom. Whether you’re facing a major life decision or struggle with day-to-day decisions, I hope that there will be something you’ll gain from this series.
Throughout my Making Big Decision series you’ll start to see a pattern of things I suggest. Things like praying about it and seeking wisdom are two of the themes that are repeated over and over. If you’re anything like I am, these two ideas can be a little vague. I’m the kind of person who wants to leave every sermon with a series of bullet points instructing me how to implement the lesson I just learned. The more I grow in my faith and progress in life, I'm learning that the ways to wisdom and knowledge aren't necessarily a nice numbered list (believe me, I'm as bummed as you are).
The past year I’ve realized that making big decisions often comes down to seeking wisdom and a lot of prayer. This intro post is to share some ideas that I’ve learned along the way of how to go about these two concepts that often seem really vague.
Pray about it. Okay this is such an easy phrase to fling around but let's be honest, it's hard.to.do. My prayer life is growing and changing every single day and I really struggle
some a lot of the time. I have a short
attention span and find my mind wandering after just a few minutes of prayer.
Think about when you feel most connected to God- I'll bet that for most of us that isn't necessarily during our morning quiet time. Many times I feel more connected to God when I'm driving or holding a baby at work than I do sitting with my Bible on my lap holding my morning coffee.
Get rid of the notion that prayer is to be done with hands neatly folded, on your knees, and done in hour long marathons. God calls us to pray without ceasing, but also calls us to be lights to the world and that means that prayer-on-the-go is not a bad thing. Figure out when you feel like you are most connected to that and capitalize on that time. Even if it's just "Hi God, thank you for that beautiful sunrise." I find the more I involve God in day to day moments, the easier prayer comes, and the easier I'm able to hear Him speak.
When it comes to praying about big decisions, I usually do try to carve out a specific time to sit and pray about it. A lot of times it works better if I pray on a walk, a run, or while folding laundry. Doing something active helps me get a lot less distracted.
When it comes to big decisions, it can be hard to know how to pray.
God doesn't want to simply hear what we think he wants to hear, or some pase like "Your will be done Lord." He wants to hear how much you don't want to move, or how much you want that job, or how you don't know how to deal with certain relationships in your life. You can pour out your heart to Him- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Friend, He knows it all anyway so don't hold back.
More than once, I've been so overwhelmed or frustrated that I don't even know what to pray. In those moments I read/pray one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible:
"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, 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." - Romans 8:26
How awesome is it that even when we don't know how to pray, all we need to do is ask the Holy Spirit to pray for us and He will? I will read this verse over and over and simply say, "Lord I don't know how to pray. Holy Spirit come."
Prayer is a practice and it just takes simple day to day moments like grace before meals or thanking Him for that delicious coffee. So when I mention in this series to "pray about it" or "take it to the Lord", all I mean is to go and talk with Jesus. Explain to Him how you're feeling, what you're concerned about, what you're excited about. He will meet you where you're at. I promise.
Seek wise/godly counsel. In non-christianese terms this means to seek out advice/opinions from you trust.
Now if you're like me in many stages of my life, you're thinking "Um yeah sure that's a great idea Sarah... if I had someone I could ask." I've been there sister. I grew up in a town where I felt like I was the only Christian under the age of 30 and it felt very isolating. In this situation, I would tell you pray (there's that prayer thing again!) and ask for someone to be brought into your life. Seriously though, I've prayed (cried actually) for the Lord to bring a wise woman into my life and He has done it... more than once. I will say that it took awhile at one point (like a few years) which isn't the best when you're trying to seek godly counsel now. If that is your situation, then continue to pray for someone you can go to. If the Lord doesn't reveal anyone to you don't despair. Continue to go to Him with all your requests and trust that He will guide you; after all, His counsel is better than the counsel of the godliest 1000 men or women on this earth.
If you do have a person (or two) in mind, a few things to consider. Just because someone is your friend doesn't necessarily mean that you should go to them for godly counsel. In fact, I've found that my most trusted "advisors" in life have been several years older than me and not necessarily my best friend that I invite over for movie night.
Some qualities that I've prayed for in a godly mentor/advisor/counselor are:
-Someone older than me. I think life experience is absolutely invaluable, and I believe that certain wisdom is only gained by living life. (This isn't something set in stone, but I value age so much that for me it is a non-negotiable).
-A Jesus lover. I want someone who is seeking the Lord daily to be the one I go to for counsel (this constitutes the "godly" part of "godly counsel").
-Someone I get along with. This seems sort of ridiculous, but lets be honest. Are you going to take advice from someone that you don't even really like? I've been there done that; it didn't go well.
-Same gender (I think this is non-negotiable. Seems like that should go without saying, but you'd be surprised.)
I think parents can give great godly counsel (I mean 50+ years of Jesus seeking- how great is that??) But I also think in certain situations parents can be biased in their counsel. I've found that it often helps to have someone that is not related to me give counsel. If you're in the situation I mentioned above where you don't have someone in your life that you can go to for godly counsel, then by all means ask your parents! But I would encourage you to seek someone else that is not a relative to impart their wisdom.
When I mention later in the series to "seek godly counsel", what I mean is go to the person you've identified and ask for their wisdom. Sometimes I will tell them the specifics of my situation and ask what they think (basically asking for advice). Sometimes I won't share specifics and instead simply ask them for prayer. If you do receive advice from them, always always always take it to the Lord in prayer. The person in your life, no matter how godly, is still human and they can and will make mistakes. Just because they say it, doesn't necessarily mean that it's right. So remember to always pray and be discerning about the counsel you receive.
You will see pray about it and seek godly counsel over and over in this series. I hope the above helps give you some practicality behind what I'm talking about and I hope you'll refer back to this post as much as you need to as you seek the Lord's guidance in making big decisions.
Tell me about your prayer life. What things have worked for you? What hasn't? What parts of prayer do you struggle with?