I often find myself praying, "Lord, tell me what to do!" or "Is this course of action that I'm considering right or wrong? Just tell me!" But I have finally realized that this is not the best kind of prayer, and, in many instances, is not even an appropriate kind of prayer.

You see, when I am asking God to tell me what to do, I am refusing to take responsibility for my life. I am denying the image of God within me which is, in part, my free will.

You might say, "But as a Christian, I am supposed to surrender my will to God's will." Agreed. However, surrendering my will does not mean surrendering my mind. Surrendering my will does not mean becoming a puppet on strings. Surrendering my will does mean choosing to walk with God, seeking to live a godly life, and putting God first in all my decisions.

It may be easiest to think of it this way. What would happen if a thirty-year old man were to ask his parents, "Should I take this job or that one? I won't take any part in this decision - you just tell me what to do and I'll do it!" The parents of such a thirty-year old man would answer, "I can give you input. I can help you think through the logical consequences of either choice. But the final choice is yours, and should be. A mature person asks for help, advice, and input when making a decision, but the decision-making and the final decision is their own."

So it is with us and God. Notice that James 1:5 (NAS) states clearly, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God..." It does not say, "If any of you needs an answer."

When I pray for wisdom, I am asking God to help me think clearly. To see all the ramifications of my possible choices. To understand the situation. To discern good from evil. I am asking him to help me make a good and right decision.

In so doing, I grow in maturity. I develop my mind and my critical thinking skills. I learn to accept responsibility for my actions. I practice the discipline of listening for God's voice. I strengthen my relationship with God as I walk with him hand-in-hand through my life.

It takes courage to pray for wisdom. It's a longer, harder road. It is so much easier to just say, "Tell me what to do!" But God longs for each one of us to grow into maturity in him. He doesn't want puppets on strings - he wants sons and daughters of the kingdom.

© 2002 Paula Marolewski

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Author's Bio: 

Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots (www.SinkYourRoots.com). Studies include such topics as Debunking the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The site also offers free weekly Seedlings - “Little thoughts that grow big results.”