By David Brandt Berg
People would make better decisions and arrive at them a lot easier if, instead of trying to reason things out themselves, they would pray. God has all the answers. Prayer is not just getting down on your knees and speaking your piece, but more importantly, letting God speak His. If you’ll do that, He’ll tell you what to do.
If you really want to hear the Lord, He will talk to you. But in order for Him to get through, you’re going to have to get quiet by yourself, somewhere, somehow, sometime. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). How many “quiet times” do you have?
You don’t have to be down on your hands and knees, praying frantically, to be heard by God. Prayer should be something you’re doing all the time, no matter what else you’re doing. Quiet times are important, but you can’t always wait until conditions are perfect or you’re through doing this or that to pray. Sometimes you have to pray as you go. It’s like thinking on your feet.
If you’re confused, worrying, fretting, and fuming, then you’re not trusting; you don’t have the faith you ought to have. Trusting is a picture of complete rest and peace of mind, heart, and spirit. You may have to continue working, but your attitude and spirit is calm.
When you truly trust the Lord, you can have peace in the midst of storm and calm in the eye of the hurricane. It reminds me of an art contest that was held in which the artists were asked to illustrate peace. Most of the contestants handed in paintings of quiet, calm scenes of the countryside—absolute tranquility. Well, that’s a form of peace, but the hardest kind of peace to have was illustrated in the picture that won the award. It depicted the roaring, foaming torrents of a storm-swollen river, and on a little tree branch overhanging the rapids was a nest where a tiny bird sat, peacefully singing in spite of the raging river. That’s when your faith gets tested, in the midst of turmoil.
Look at all the people in the Bible who had to learn to hear from God and to wait for Him to work—David, Moses, Noah, Abraham, the apostle John, and Jesus Himself, to name a few.
David spent 24 years working under blunderbuss King Saul, and the Lord really taught him a lot from Saul’s bad example. Saul often became impatient and tried to do things in his own strength, and he found he wasn’t strong enough. David learned that he had to let God do everything, and wait for Him.
When Moses was a smart young man, 40 years of age, he really thought he knew how to do the job—but he made a terrible mess out of it and had to run for his life! It took God 40 years to straighten Moses out and show him that he had to depend on Him (Exodus chapters 2 and 3).
Later, Moses had several million people sitting out in the middle of the desert, waiting for him and wondering, “What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? Where are we going? What are we going to do?” And what did Moses do? He climbed to the top of a mountain and stayed there alone with the Lord for 40 days!
What if he had been fretting all the time, “What if something happens? I have to get back. What if Aaron makes a golden calf?”—which he did! And when Moses did get upset, he broke the stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments and had to go back up the mountain and get quiet for another 40 days to receive them from God again (Exodus 24:12–18, and chapters 32 and 34).
It took Noah 120 years to build the Ark. I wonder how much of that was spent in prayer. He must have taken some time with the Lord, or he never could have gotten all the precise instructions on how to build the vessel. God probably gave him the exact specifications for every part of that boat. Noah just went calmly about his business, building the Ark. He could have panicked and hastily slapped it together, thinking rain was coming any minute, but he didn’t. Many of us would probably think we were spending a lot of time preparing for something if we just spent 120 days on it, but Noah spent 120 years hearing from the Lord and building the Ark. Noah had faith! (Genesis 6:11–22 and chapter 7; Hebrews 11:7)
Think of the years Abraham, “the father of faith,” (Romans 4:11,16) spent out in the fields watching flocks. No wonder he heard from the Lord; he had time to listen.
Jesus spent 30 years of His life in preparation and only a little over three years in His public ministry. On the eve of His ministry, He went out and spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness, being tested by the Devil. He had to defeat the Devil first (Matthew 4:1–11). If you don’t get alone with the Lord and beat the Devil first, you won’t get far.
The apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, and it must have taken some time with the Lord to do it. However, John’s greatest masterpiece, the book of Revelation, was virtually written by the Lord Himself while John was banished on the Mediterranean island of Patmos. John’s biggest work was just letting the Lord do all the directing, the speaking, the revealing—everything!
Farmers need a lot of patience and faith. They can’t expect everything in one day, but must patiently wait for the plants to grow and the animals to produce. God does the biggest part of the job: He sends the sun and rain and makes the crops grow, and He’s the One who causes the animals to produce. About all the farmer can do is trust the Lord and not worry about it. We should take a lesson from the farmer.
Some people have to be in motion all the time; they’ve got to be doing something. But if you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy! If you’re too busy to get alone with God and pray, you’re too busy! It’s as if a servant told his king, “I’m sorry, I can’t come and listen to your orders today because I’m too busy serving you.” The most important job you have is listening to the King of Kings.
It’s not up to the king to go chasing after his subjects, screaming and hollering at them to try to get them to follow his instructions. Rather, his subjects should come to him with quietness and respect, present their petitions and then wait silently for the king’s answer. You need to respect and reverence the Lord, and treat Him like the king He is.
You show that you have faith by stopping your own activity and waiting for God to work. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) “Study to be quiet.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 KJV) “Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20). There will even be silence in Heaven on one occasion (Revelation 8:1).
But the world is always in a hurry. That’s the Devil’s own plan: Speed up the world—anything to make everything move faster. The earth has hardly varied in its speed since God created it. God isn’t in a hurry. He hasn’t sped up the days or seasons, but man is speeding up things—and the result is a world hell-bent for destruction.
So let’s try to slow things down. Relax! But most of all, stop, look, listen … and wait. Warning signs like this are posted at dangerous places such as railroad crossings—places of crisis where there is an interruption of your routine, your way, your road—otherwise you might drive across the tracks when a train is coming and get hit.
“But,” you say, “I don’t have time to stop, look, and listen!” Well, if you don’t, you may never make it. Which is easier, to try to beat the train, to try to plow through the train, to jump over the train, or to stop for a few minutes and watch it go by? It will soon be gone, and you can go peacefully on your way.
Trying to force the situation just won’t work! It doesn’t pay to rush around trying to get someplace or to do something when you’re supposed to be waiting on the Lord to find out where He wants you to be and what He wants you to do.
If you’re hurrying and rushing around, fretting and impatient, you’ll never be able to focus your full attention on the Lord and get His solutions to your problems and His answers to your questions, and thereby make the best decision in each situation. You must stop, look, listen, and wait in communion with Him until you get His answers. When you have learned to do that, you will have learned how to make Spirit-led decisions.
He gives the very best to them who leave the choices up to Him!