There are three questions which I believe we can ask our Father God, which can help us discern His will and pursue continued growth in Him as His children.
My belief is based in the teaching of Romans 8:26-27, which says,
“the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
In the previous post, I shared and explained the first of these questions, which is “Father, what do You think, and how do You feel about the (person, problem, need, decision, etc.) I am facing in my life?” Pour out your own thoughts and feelings about this issue in prayer to God – but then, allow time in your prayers to ask Him to share His own thoughts and feelings back to you about this issue. Ask Him – and here’s the key – wait. Linger. Don’t rush on to the next thing. Wait with notebook ready and pen poised to write any response He may offer to you…
Let me setup the second question for you: over my years of pastoral counseling, I have had many meetings and appointments with people where the person says something like this:
- “I wish I was a better husband…”
- “I wish I was a better leader…”
- “I wish I could be more patient with my kids…”
- “I’m not very good a praying…”
- “I’m not as (kind/generous/thoughtful/etc.) as I’d like to be…”
The person will express their desire to be better at some role they have in their lives, or that they wish they had more of some virtue or character trait, or were better at some spiritual practice or discipline… but they feel stuck, and they don’t know what to do, and now they are reaching out for advice.
As they share, I will gladly listen, and pray with the person, and then offer any the advice that comes into my heart or mind for them…
But sometime ago, a wise counselor whom I had gone to see under similar circumstances posed the question to me: “Well, what do you think a better __________ would do next?” (What would a better father/husband/leader/friend do?) I would share my guess at a response, usually based on a person I knew and admired for being better at that role in their lives then me, and then my counselor would say, “Okay. Do that.”
If you want be more patient with your kids, think, “what would a person who is more patient with their kids do?” Then do that. If you want to be a better spouse, imagine, “what kinds of things do you think a better spouse would be doing?” Then try one or two of those things. If you wish you were better at prayer, or Bible study, or Scripture memory – just think, “what would a person who is better at those things do?” And then try that!
The only thing standing between you and the increased virtue you desire for your life is practice. The only thing standing between you and the improved role you play in your life, or the improved spiritual activity in your life, is practice. Ask God to help you think of one action you can take in the direction of becoming a better (life-role) or a more (virtuous) person.
And don’t be discouraged by imperfection. Practice makes progress. We try a new skill or practice imperfectly in order to learn how to do it better and better each time we do it. We will only grow if we try. Sometimes trying means failing – and that’s not a problem – it just means you need to try it again. The fact that you are trying at all already means you are on a journey towards growth and improvement.
“There is nothing I am less good at than love. And yet I decide, every day, to attempt what I do very clumsily – daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.” –Eugene Peterson
Three Questions for Spiritual Growth:
- Question 1 – “Father, what do You think or feel about this?”
- Question 2 – What would a better ______ be doing?
- Question 3 – What would you counsel your best friend to do?