I assume you’re familiar with this sort of prayer: ‘Lord – please guide us and make your will really clear to us’.
I hear it all the time. Often from my own mouth!
I guess that’s no surprise. I go to enough ministry planning meetings. And I sit with enough people wrestling with big decisions — about career or relationships or church.
And there’s something undeniably good about the desire this sort of prayer wraps with words. The commitment in the face of uncertainty to walk a path pleasing to God. The longing to honour him.
But, particularly as I take stock of what’s going on in my own heart, I’m struck by the oddness of some of the expectations such words bundle up together with this longing and commitment.
You see, the picture this sort of prayer seems to paint is one in which we’re asking our Heavenly Father to give us the kind of ‘guidance’ we resent our earthly parents for offering.
I mean, do we really mean to ask God to lay out a detailed plan for our every step? To micromanage every decision? To make every aspect of timing and process abundantly clear?
Much as I love them, I wouldn’t ask my parents for that. And I’m not sure they’d want me to either.
It’s almost the overriding goal of healthy parenting to prepare one’s children to make their own good decisions — springing freely from their informed maturity and well-formed characters.
Numerous passages in the New Testament convince me that God doesn’t want anything less for his dearly-loved sons and daughters.
Few more so than the Lord’s Prayer — where we align our vision with God’s (‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven’) without sacrificing our confidence that he’ll reliably and abundantly meet all our physical and spiritual needs.
So why do I persist in asking for something less?
And what would it sound like to seek from God truly parental guidance instead? Guidance in keeping with his holy and loving character and commitment to our growing maturity?