When you have many decisions to make, how much time do you spend listening to God for the answer? If I’m honest with myself, a lot of the time I spend with God is spent by my talking and filling in the space, and then after getting nothing but silence from the other end, I make my own decisions. It’s not the most effective way to achieve a peaceful decision. Sometimes things work out but often I create needless toil and effort than if I had waited a little longer to hear clearly from God.
Fortunately for me (and anyone else who can relate to making rash decisions on their own), Jesus models a different way.
Mark 1:35-38 offers an example of how Jesus made decisions – by solitary prayer to listen to the Father and seek his direction from him. If we back up even earlier, we learn from Jesus he understood the importance of by-passing his natural decision-making abilities and rely on the spiritual direction from the Father. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus responds to temptation by saying we rely on the rhema (word) of God, not only on natural provisions.
The rhema of God is the personal utterance for you, in that moment. It’s personal and direct and it takes practice to hear it. Some Christians live their whole life without learning to recognize the rhema of God. Jesus indicates how important it is to sit and listen to God when he rebukes Martha for being worried about the preparation and gives Mary a “free pass” to sit and listen and learn (Luke 10:38-42).
I’m challenged by Jesus’ example in Mark, chapter 1. I’ve spent the last four years becoming comfortable in his presence but I sense the season is coming to an end. In my former pattern, I am apt to move forward in the direction I think God is moving, although sometimes I’m mistaken and have to scramble to catch up again.
After Jesus had been moving in his ministry for some time in the local area, he inquired of the Father about the timing to move forward. After spending some early morning time with the Father, he was resolute in his next step – to move out to the nearby villages because is why he was on earth, to keep extending the kingdom of God.
Other examples of how Jesus listened to the direction of the Father at crucial times in his ministry are when he chose the 12 apostles from among his disciples (Luke 6:12-13), and before he went to the cross as he prayed at Gethsemane (Mark 14:32).
If Jesus didn’t do anything without the Father, how can we expect to manage?