*Thanks to my friend Jonathan Weigt for serving as today’s guest contributor!*
So lately I’ve been struggling with several prayer agenda items. I keep asking for answers, or guidance, or clairvoyance, or whatever. You know… things you recite over and over and over daily. And these things, to me, have not been revealed in any way that I have been able to ascertain for going on several months now. Honestly, I’m frustrated.
Last night, in an ultra rare instance, Laura and I found ourselves sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing a little after 8. I mean, this never happens! I forget how the conversation started, but we got on the subject of “How do you recognize the answers to prayers, or how do you know you are being led?”
Sometimes doors open, and it’s pretty obvious. Short of being hit in the head, you are basically an idiot if you don’t see it. But other times, it can be so much more esoteric in nature. No answer at all really… or maybe it is, and you are just not looking in the right direction and literally missing the writing on the wall. Who knows?
Laura and I have been church shopping since after Christmas. At the time, we had different church homes and preferences. I guess we still do to some degree. Her kids seemed to be struggling at the church they attended; they didn’t really seem to be learning anything about religion. And my kid is a whole different story… I digress… It appeared on the surface, and through questions, that Sundays were a mere social experience for them. Not that church socialization isn’t important, but when pressed for “What did you learn today,” the answers were usually “Uh….there was a story about a guy that, uh….”
We talked and wanted to find a place that would fit all of us well, including kids, and not to mention me. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with that place either. In fact, I didn’t like it for some purely personal reasons… not that it was a bad place or had faulty theology or anything. So we’ve church hopped since then. Several weeks here, a couple weeks there, a couple of “spray and pray” attempts. (For those who don’t know, spray and pray is basically going somewhere random in hopes of an epiphany.) And the whole time, I’ve been extremely frustrated. I mean geez… of all things, why wouldn’t God make this blatantly obvious? (In red letters: YOU SHOULD GO HERE is what I guess I expected to hear each Sunday.)
Then, we learn via Twitter, that her oldest, the one who seemed to be struggling the most with religion in general, not to mention developing any sense of personal relationship, got saved the other weekend at the first place via some conference that someone else coerced her to attend. Now she wants to go each Wednesday night and the weekends. Odd really. Did I just get a sign?
So. How do you recognize it? What signs does God use in your life? I’d like to hear.
First, to answer your question. Yes, you just received a sign.
Now as to the issue behind your question, how do we know when we have gotten the answer from God? That is much harder. I have found that it is useful if you define, in your prayers, what a sign for that particular sort of thing would look like. I think that Denise gave a good answer as well. Pray that you will recognize the answer to your prayer when you come across it. Planting Potatoes, also made a good point. I would expand on it slightly. One of the reasons we have trouble recognizing God’s answer to our prayers is because we don’t want the answer He is giving us.
I have learned that the reason answers don’t seem to be obvious at times, is because I tend to look for the answer I was praying for….not just giving the problem to God and asking him to help me in his way and in his timing…..one of my favorite quotes is: “when you pray, are you prepared to be part of God’s solution?”
I pray not only for the answer to be set in my path but also for the ability to recognize it. And then, when I stumble right over it, I tend to laugh out loud. And say thank you.
I have found that God uses many signs to let me know that He has answered my prayers. Sometimes it comes from one of my four kids, a friend saying something to me out of the blue about something I have been praying about, a feeling deep within, a sermon from my pastor, or a verse that just presents itself. Two years ago my family and I were without a church home. We prayed, visited, and was losing faith in finding a place that was right for all of us. then one Sunday morning I was re-reading our local Friday paper’s list of churches and one just jumped at me. It was a church that we had dismissed because of it’s size and negative things we had heard about it. But for some reason, I just felt like we should go. I felt called to go. And now we have been members there for almost two years! God can use anything to get our attention. sometimes we just have to take a step back and say, God, I am leaving this in Your hands and not my own. I am praying that God will send you a sign soon. 🙂