What God’s telling me not to pray
I am a future-oriented person. If I’m not careful I can miss the present because I’m too focused on the future. This is something that spills over to my personal prayer life. Most of the time I am praying about what will be true for me, our family, our church, our friends, and our neighbors in the future. This future orientation is most true in regard to my leadership of our church. I constantly think about where we are headed and so that’s what I pray about too.
In the past four or five months God has been very silent with me about the future. Usually I sense his leading, but the only leading I’ve sensed lately is that I need to stop praying about the future for a time. It’s not that praying about the future is bad, but for a season God has made it clear that it’s bad for me. Every time I begin to pray about the future I sense the Spirit telling me to stop. This has forced me to take on the challenge of just being present in the present.
There art three ways this season of God’s silence about the future has been good for me (though I haven’t enjoyed learning these things all the time).
First, I’ve been reminded that God wants me to be present with him. Future-oriented prayers are more about where God is leading than being in God’s presence. In the past four or five months I’ve spent much more time praying through the psalms, sitting in silence, and trying to be present with God without an agenda. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been good. God has reminded me that he cares about who I am and wants me to actually be like a child of his, not just have that title.
Second, I’ve been challenged to keep a right perspective on my future. When I am fully future-focused it’s easy to feel like that is the most important thing in the world. In reality, what matters is my faithfulness to God in the midst of whatever future I have. God’s story is massive–I play a small role in it. It’s too easy to approach life like my story is huge and God plays a small role in it. It’s not that I think God doesn’t care about my future, but I think he cares a lot more about my faithfulness in the future than the details of it.
Third, I’ve learned to appreciate the times when God is leading clearly. I’ve had times in life when God has been very clear about the future–for me, our family, our church. I’ve taken those times for granted–as though that would always be the case. But in this time without future guidance I’ve learned to appreciate when the future is more clear.