Seeking Divine Guidance

Seeking Divine Guidance

The Significance of Inquiring and Submitting Plans

“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.” Jim Elliot
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
 
Joseph Campbell

“God has a plan for everything. And we may not always understand it or agree with it, but we can trust in it.”
Rick Warren

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.”
Martin Luther
In a world of deep uncertainty and swift change, the need for guidance is more crucial than ever. For believers, God longs to guide and direct our steps as we earnestly seek Him, and God’s wisdom as seen in Scripture provides us solace and confidence amidst life’s uncertainties. The Bible records numerous examples of godly men and women inquiring of the Lord when faced with difficult choices or situations. In Ancient Israel, seeking God’s guidance was a regular part of life, whether for personal decisions or national matters. Today, we will explore the biblical imperative to inquire of the Lord and submit our plans to Him. By examining the profound significance of seeking God’s will and the dangers of neglecting this practice, we shed light on the great value of relying on the Spirit’s supernatural discernment to chart our course through life’s complex decisions and situations.

The Biblical Mandate
Like a shimmering thread woven throughout Scripture’s tapestry, we find the recurring call to seek God’s counsel. This biblical imperative for inquiring of the Lord is no mere suggestion but a profound directive to lean on God’s infinite understanding rather than our finite human wisdom. In Joshua 9, we find the story of the Gibeonite deception which resulted in Joshua making a treaty with them. The Gibeonites dressed in worn-out clothes and brought old food, pretending to have come from a faraway land. Without inquiring of the Lord, Joshua made a peace treaty with them to let them live. Later, when the Israelites discovered the Gibeonites lived nearby, they regretted making the treaty but had to keep it because of their oath.
The story highlights the importance of inquiring of God before making decisions. Though the Gibeonites appeared humble and their story convincing, taking time to pray and seek God’s wisdom could have revealed their deception. In our lives today, we may face many tricky situations and appealing proposals. Though they seem good on the surface, prayerfully seeking the Lord’s direction is the only way to have true discernment. Just as Joshua discovered, failing to inquire of God can lead to regret and being trapped in bad situations. But by waiting on the Lord’s counsel, He can guide us around potential pitfalls and lead us into His perfect will. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV), “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” The practice of inquiring of the Lord is rooted in humility, acknowledging our deep need for the divine perspective. It involves recognizing the limits of human wisdom and reasoning and seeking God’s higher ways and thoughts through prayerful petition and divine revelation. As Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV) reminds us, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” When we inquire of the Lord, we admit our dependence on supernatural insight to chart life’s course wisely.

Pitfalls of Autonomy
The Bible issues strong warnings about the peril of self-reliance and autonomy, and we see numerous biblical examples of people relying on self instead of inquiring of God. Abraham and Sarah did not ask God before attempting to fulfill His promise of a son through Hagar, leading to long-term family conflict (Genesis 16). The Israelites made a golden calf idol while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, rather than waiting patiently for his return (Exodus 32). Moses struck the rock to bring water rather than speaking to it as God commanded, failing to honor God’s instructions (Numbers 20). King Saul offered sacrifices himself rather than waiting for Samuel as instructed, acting impatiently without consulting God (1 Samuel 13). David tried to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem without following the prescribed methods, resulting in a man’s death (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13). David was well-meaning and excited for the Ark’s return and that good intention motivated him to plow on ahead without inquiring of and following God’s intent. King Asa sought help only from physicians rather than praying to God when afflicted with diseased feet (2 Chronicles 16). King Amaziah refused a prophet’s counsel not to go to battle, leading to his defeat (2 Chronicles 25).
Each of these examples illustrates the importance of carefully following God’s commands and seeking His wisdom through prayer, Scripture, and godly counsel rather than relying solely on our own reasoning and desires. Taking time to inquire of the Lord demonstrates faith in His sovereignty and saves us from foolish mistakes. As Proverbs 14:12 (ESV) says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” When we bypass the vital process of inquiring of the Lord and submitting our plans to Him, we dangerously rely on human wisdom alone. Though a path may seem wise and promising through our limited lens, neglecting God’s higher perspective risks unwittingly embarking on a course that leads to destruction. Likewise, Isaiah 50:11 describes those who walk in the light of their own fire and in the flames they have kindled. Forging ahead on plans formed in isolation often brings adverse outcomes. In contrast, God has the power to help and save, and those who trust in Him will not walk in darkness. Apart from the Lord’s direction, our steps follow the fickle glow of manmade fires, but inquiring of the Lord supplies the light and wisdom needed to walk in righteous paths that align with His purposes.

The Model of Submission
Tracing other journeys of biblical figures, we unearth a consistent pattern of entrusting plans to the Lord’s direction. Joshua asked God for direction in battle plans against Ai after the initial defeat (Joshua 7). Gideon asked for signs from God to confirm his calling to lead Israel into battle (Judges 6). In 1 Samuel 3, we witness Samuel’s receptivity, declaring “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears” (ESV). This posture enabled him to align his plans with God’s purposes. Similarly, David repeatedly inquired of the Lord when facing decisions, whether personal or national in scope. Before going to battle, he sought God’s counsel, asking “Shall I go up against the Philistines?” (2 Samuel 5:19). Through inquiry and obedience, David discovered God’s strategic guidance. Jesus regularly withdrew to pray and seek the Father’s will (Luke 5:16). Paul received direction from God for his missionary journeys (Acts 16), and the Church in Antioch sought God’s guidance in commissioning Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-3). As these examples illustrate, leaning on the Lord’s insight rather than our own understanding allows our objectives to align with His perfect will. Surrendering our plans, both big and small, grants access to His supernatural wisdom for life’s journey.

The Art of Inquiring
Inquiring of the Lord is no mere mechanical task, but a relational endeavor rooted in intimacy with God. As Psalm 27:4 beautifully expresses, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (ESV). This verse frames the inquiring process as a journey of pursuing God’s presence, not just petitioning for guidance. When we inquire of the God, Psalm 27 implies that we are invited into the house of the Lord—into His fellowship, His character, and the depths of His love. In the stillness, we wait and listen for the whisper of His Spirit. Inquiring of God involves drawing close to hear His heart, not just appealing for answers and direction. It is a two-fold journey: seeking His wisdom while also worshipping in His presence. As we learn to inquire of the Lord, we discover the sweetness of dwelling with Him.

Submission as an Act of Trust
Submitting our plans to the Lord is an act of trust in His sovereign care and rule over our lives. As Proverbs 16:3 (ESV) says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” When we commit our agendas and lay our blueprints before Him, we relinquish our tight grip of control. We acknowledge that only the Lord has the power to ordain our steps and establish our way. Though releasing our plans requires faith, Scripture assures us God’s faithful hand will direct and establish the path He has prepared for us. As we yield our strategies and ambitions to His shaping, the rough edges of our plans are smoothed into alignment with His purpose. On our own, our steps remain uncertain and unstable. But when we entrust our plans to the Lord, committing them fully into His capable hands, He graciously guides our way for our good and His glory.

The Consequences of Neglect
Profound dangers arise when we neglect to inquire of the Lord and fail to submit our plans to Him. As Proverbs 21:5 (ESV) cautions, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” When we walk by the light of our own fire and move ahead hastily based on our limited understanding, without seeking God’s higher perspective, our plans often veer off course. Rash decisions reach dead ends, bearing the bitter fruit of spiritual, emotional, and even material poverty. In contrast, the plans of the diligent, who carefully seek the Lord’s direction, lead to abundance and blessing. As believers, we are called to diligently inquire of God before charting our course. When we incorporate His supernatural wisdom into our plans, even intricate details are providentially established for our good, just as Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) assures, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” The costs of bypassing the Lord’s counsel are simply too high; wisdom urges us to earnestly seek His guidance.

Though requiring the surrender of control, the call to inquire of the Lord is no restrictive mandate but a liberating invitation into greater alignment with divine wisdom. As we traverse life’s winding roads filled with perplexing turns, embracing this practice allows God’s unerring guidance to light our path. By submitting our plans to the Lord, we access the same power that directed the saints of old, parted seas, and calmed storms. No situation is beyond the limits of His discernment; no predicament beyond the reach of His wisdom. May our hearts echo Psalm 143:10 (ESV), “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” As we seek the Lord’s counsel, inquiring through prayer and immersion in Scripture, we can proceed forward with the confidence that He will establish our steps and chart our course according to His good and perfect will.

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