Conntecting the Dots

Pray First; Act Later

What’s your usual response when faced with major decisions? Do you rush ahead or do you take a moment to ask God for direction? I’ve love to say that my usual response is the latter but that wouldn’t be totally true. All too often I’ve rushed forward only to regret not seeking God first. In one case, that nearly resulted in marrying a guy that would have been the worst possible life partner for me.

King Saul did the same thing. Well, not quite. His situation wasn’t about marriage. It was about war (hmmm…sadly, some people might say that is the same thing). 1 Samuel 14 tells of a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. As the day draws to a close, Saul isn’t ready to quit. “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them,” he says. His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.”

Here’s the part that grabs my attention: “But the priest said, ‘Let’s ask God first’” (v. 36).

Yeah for the priest! His words are loaded with wisdom for those of us who tend towards being impulsive and doing whatever we think is best, especially when our emotions are involved. They tell us to slow down. To pray first and act later. To do things God’s way rather than doing whatever makes the most sense in the moment.

Granted, sometimes the necessity for split-second decisions doesn’t give us the luxury of spending hours or days in prayer. When that happens, a basic “Help, God!” works well. We can trust the Lord to guide us at all times when our hearts are in tune with Him on a consistent basis.

We can apply the priest’s counsel to every aspect of our lives. For instance…

  • If someone hurts us and we’re tempted to retaliate, it’s wise to ask God for His thoughts about our proposed plan of action.
  • If we’re presented with a wonderful new opportunity, it’s best to ask God if saying yes is truly what He wants us to do and if we need to give up something else before assuming a new responsibility. 
  • If we’re fed up with the hassles of our present situation, it’s best to ask God for His insights before bailing out or trying to remedy them our way.

Next time you’re faced with a decision, take the priest’s advice to heart. You might be tempted to do whatever seems best in the moment, but ask God first. He’ll guide you in the way you should go.

What’s been your usual response when faced with a major decision? How has praying first proven to be a smart thing to do?

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