As I prayed and asked the Lord to “tell me what to do,” I felt like He spoke to me and said that He would not tell me what to do. Now, this was startling, to say the least. I paused for a bit and prayed about it again. I asked the Lord to “tell me what to do.” He refused. I mean to say that the Holy Spirit impressed me strongly that God was not going to tell me what to do in this specific situation.
That puzzled me, and I prayed for a while longer to understand it better. I am not used to being told that I should not expect the Spirit to tell me what to do. I mean, I am willing to do whatever, just say what I need to do. But I cannot do what I am told until I am told. That is pretty straightforward. Just tell me what to do!
But, no. The Spirit began to deal with me in a new way. The Lord said that in this particular situation He would not tell me what to do, but that He would help me figure out what to do. The Lord said to me, “You have come to me asking for orders, but I am not going to give you orders; I will give you wisdom. And with Spirit-led wisdom, I will help you figure out what you need to do in this situation.”
He continued, “To simply be told what to do is to live as a child or a servant. But to be taught how to make wise decisions is to live as full-grown son.” God wants to give us wisdom and show us how to make decisions. This means that God will often not answer us when we ask for specific instructions. He will require us to figure it out for ourselves. But, of course, He does not intend for us to figure it out by ourselves. For ourselves, but not by ourselves. God will guide us with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, opening our eyes by the Spirit so that we may see clearly. But He will not simply tell us what to do, at least not always, not after we have grown a while in the Spirit.
This means that we must pray daily for wisdom. Wisdom is Spirit-led insight combined with hindsight that produces foresight. Wisdom is the ability to judge things correctly in advance. Wisdom evaluates situations and accurately predicts outcomes. Wisdom sees the end from the beginning. Of course, only God can do that perfectly, which is why we must pray for wisdom. We need wisdom for our families, for the church and for our ministries. We need wisdom to make decisions. So, we must pray for it.
When we don’t know what to do, we should ask for wisdom. God may not give us specific orders, but He will help us work through the options and assess the consequences and come to a godly, wise decision. This sort of decision-making requires time and patience, but if we will persevere in living wise, then the principles of wisdom that the Spirit imparts will become second nature.
This approach brings great peace. We get so bogged down begging God for specific orders, and it seems that the orders never come. We halt between opinions and vacillate between options. If only God would say this or that! If only He would tell me which job to take, which school to choose, which car to buy, which person to marry, on and on it goes, asking God for orders.
And sometimes, no doubt, He does give specific, detailed instruction. But, for the most part, God attempts to lead us into maturity by working through decisions and coming to wise conclusions through the leading of the Spirit. Our prayer should be, “Lord, give me wisdom to know what is the right decision.” We should lay all options out on the table before the Lord and pray our way through them. Then, we should ask God to let us see things the way He does. By following His leading, we can make wise decisions that we can live with.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)