Psalm 119:66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.
As I have said before, when I was growing up I was not somebody you would consider “churched.” I did not grow up in a home where we prayed regularly or went to church regularly or talked about the things of God regularly. I am grateful that my parents got me to Vacation Bible School and Sunday School enough times for some of the “basics” to sink in. But I must admit that many of the things of God were pretty foreign to me until I really began to trust Him at a higher level when I was about 25 years old. One thing that I had to learn was discerning His voice. Another lesson I had to learn was to trust Him enough to listen to Him and follow His voice. I have found that following His voice and doing His will typically involves ignoring my voice, my flesh and my own selfish desires. Like most people, I am still working on that one! I find that it just takes practice even for preachers.
I have also found that life works best when we stay in God’s will. That does not mean it is always an easy road but there are fewer potholes and unnecessary detours. We all need to come to the point where we consistently seek God’s input in our lives and in our decision making processes. How do the things we do line up with His word and His will? Have we prayed about the decisions we are about to make and asked for wisdom and discernment? In Psalm 119:66 David prays, “Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.” That is a prayer that I believe the Lord will answer and honor. The Lord wants His people to make good decisions. So here are the steps – P.R.A.Y.:
- Pray. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment. Talk to Him and He will talk to you.
- Read. Look for principles in His Word. You may not find the exact problem you face, but there is nothing new under the sun. God has dealt with your situation before.
- Ask. Ask a spiritually mature Christian. Not necessarily an old Christian but maybe. Someone who has been around the block a few times has seen a few things and hopefully learned a few things. The key is “spiritually mature.” You would be surprised how spiritually mature some youth can be. Ask someone solid in the faith, who you trust and who you can speak to in confidence.
- You. How is the Lord speaking to you? What do you know to be true in your heart? Not what do you want to do but what do you KNOW you should do? The Lord speaks to our spirit.
Recently someone came to me very concerned about a decision they had made. They had prayed and asked for guidance from the Lord but when it was all said and done they felt like they had made a bad decision after all. They wanted to know what kind of trouble they were in. I tried to ease their mind. My experience has been that if we have prayerfully submitted our actions to Him and found that the option that we are choosing does not defy or deny scripture AND we have not heard any clear cut direction from God that we are ignoring – God can use that choice that we make. It’s those choices we make that don’t line up with scripture and His clearly defined will that get us in trouble. It seems that every time I have struggled with an issue – whether it be what scripture to preach on or how to handle a situation with a loved one – if I have prayerfully submitted it to Him and followed the guidelines He has given me in His word and His commandments; He has ultimately caused it to work together for good (see Romans 8:28).
It is those times that in my life when I have known that something has not lined up with God’s word or God’s will and have barged ahead anyway that I have ended up taking an unnecessary detour in this journey that God has placed me on. I truly believe that if you pray, read God’s word, ask spiritually mature Christians for godly advice and listen to how God is leading you, He will keep you on the right path.