It makes a huge difference in my life when I come to God with my pre-existing plans, seeking his blessing, and when I come to God seeking what he is already blessing. I think there’s an Old Testament phrase that captures this “seek God first” approach: “inquiring of the Lord.”
For example, King Jehoshaphat was facing an attack by the surrounding peoples of Moab and Ammon. The threat was real because there were vast armies on the verge of attack. It is in this situation that we read these words:
Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him (2 Chr 20:3-4).
Here are a few insights that I found helpful:
- Fasting can bring greater focus when we are inquiring of the Lord.
- It is often best to inquire of the Lord in community.
- When I am inquiring of the Lord, I am seeking God’s help.
Jehoshaphat’s prayer of inquiry is including in this story (2 Chr 20:6-12) and, again, it’s a helpful model for our own seeking:
- He remembers who God is (6) – the heavenly king of kings who is powerful and mighty.
- He remembers their holy history with God driving out enemies in the past (7-8).
- He affirms his intention to trust God and cry out to God in the face of this great threat (9).
- His inquiring of the Lord asks a question we might also ask: “Our God, will you not judge them (12a) ?”
- I love how this prayer closes: “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you (12b).”
Isn’t this a beautiful model when we are facing great challenges and don’t know what to do next? There is a sad passage in the prophet Jeremiah that reminds us of what happens when leaders don’t inquire of the Lord:
The shepherds are senseless
and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
and all their flock is scattered (Jer 10:21).
Senseless leaders do not inquire of the Lord and the people they serve are scattered and exposed.
In what circumstance might you seek God’s guidance and God’s counsel?
What question would you like to ask God?
Why not ask this question and give God a few moments of unhurried attention to listen for how he might respond?