But Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “First, please ask what the LORD’s will is.” (II Chronicles 18:4, CSB)
Have you ever jumped ahead of God when you had a decision to make? It’s easy to do. We think we know what is best or we “feel” like we are making the right choice, so we skip the most important thing. We forget to pray first. Prayer becomes an afterthought. If we are honest with ourselves, we have already decided on our course of action.
In II Chronicles 18, we encounter two kings. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, was a follower of Jehovah. Ahab, the king of Israel, was a follower of the false god Baal. That fact alone should have been enough for Jehoshaphat to realize any alliance with Ahab would not be pleasing to the Lord.
When Ahab asked if the two kings could combine their armies to fight the Arameans, Jehoshaphat finally told Ahab they should ask what the Lord’s will was. This was more of an afterthought, not his first instinct. Of course, Ahab’s false prophets were willing to say whatever their king wanted to hear. Only Micaiah, a prophet of the Lord, was bold enough to go against the majority. As we read through chapter 18, it does not seem that Jehoshaphat even listened to Micaiah’s warnings. He went to battle with Ahab, and it was a disaster.
I think most of us would have to admit there have been times when we made important decisions without first earnestly seeking God’s will. I remember when a friend began dating a man who did not seem strong spiritually. When I reminded her that she should pray about the matter before becoming too emotionally involved in the relationship, she replied, “It’s too late.” I disagree. It’s never too late to pray—if we are then willing to listen to what God says.
When we face decisions, there are steps we should take to seek God’s will for our lives. Asking yourself these questions will help you move beyond just acting on feelings and emotions.
1. Have I prayed about it?
This should be our first response to any situation. Remember, even seemingly small decisions can have a major impact on our future. Nothing is “too small” to pray about.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, CSB).
2. What does God’s Word say?
Feelings or impressions can be deceptive, but God’s Word will give us clarity. Any course of action that goes against His commandments is not God’s will.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105, CSB).
3. Did I seek godly counsel?
The key word here is “godly” counsel. Don’t be like Ahab and only ask those who will readily agree with whatever is said. Choose someone who will lovingly speak truth into your life.
“Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22, CSB).
4. Do I feel peace?
Recently, I thought I was making the right decision about a matter. I had prayed, but I had no peace. That night, my mind was an uneasy jumble of feelings, and I knew I should not carry through with my plans.
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace . . .” (I Corinthians 14:33, NKJV).
5. Am I willing to patiently wait?
Sometimes God is not saying no but rather not now. It may be the right thing to do but the wrong time to do it. We must wait until God says it is time to move forward.
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:7, ESV).
Lord, help me to seek Your will first in everything I do. Help me to obey Your Word and the counsel of godly advisers. I know that You will fill me with peace when I pursue Your will. Help me to patiently await Your perfect timing.