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Praying For Signs: Do or Don’t?

I feel like there are opposing opinions within the Christian community when it comes to asking for signs from God. Sometimes a girl needs guidance, and I’ve been both encouraged to and discouraged from asking for specific signs. I’ve been told that God wants us to follow His will for our lives, but that some things are left up to us.

If you’re anything like me, you might have asked yourself the following questions: Should I take this career path? Should I date/marry this person? Where should I live? Should I wear white shoes or grey ones? (I kid about that last one).

To those who discourage sign-seeking: I understand you. God is not a “genie” to grant your wishes upon request. Sometimes His answers to our prayers aren’t as cut and dry as we’d like them to be. I’ve noticed we like to wrap up an answer and put a bow on it before we’ve even had time to process. We love being able to tell people that God has led us somewhere. It makes us feel more full of purpose when we believe that it’s part of God’s design. But sometimes we project our own wants and desires, looking for signs that aren’t there. At best, sign-seeking is validating, but at worst, it’s misguiding and confusing.

However, the trouble comes not from the asking. Asking for signs can be biblically supported, if that’s what you’re seeking from this post. Sometimes they come in weird dreams that need an interpreter—such as Joseph and Daniel in Genesis 41 and Daniel 2. Gideon asked for confirmation from the Lord that he was really being spoken to (Judges 6). There were three signs he asked for—one of which being for dry fleece and wet ground, and the next being a wet fleece on dry ground. How more oddly specific can a guy get?

So if the problem isn’t asking for a sign, then what is? I’d say that it comes from our intentions behind the asking. Do we want an answer to simply rubber-stamp what we’ve already decided on our own? Or are we actually seeking God’s will for our lives? Sometimes they’re the same thing, and sometimes they’re not.

We also make the mistake of assuming that God’s approach is the same as ours. If we have a conversation with another person, we rightly expect an immediate answer back, directly pertaining to what we asked. Some of us get restless if we have to wait a whole five minutes for a reply to a text message. But God doesn’t work how we do; while he may answer a prayer in 5 minutes, he could also answer a prayer in 5 years. God’s time is not our time, and because of that, we must learn to be patient and listen to his timing. It’s not an art I’ve mastered yet, but I’m getting there.

God will use what you pay most attention to naturally to guide you. Just as I mentioned in my previous post, the three Magi were scholars of the stars, and God used the stars to guide them to Jesus. God will show up, should you seek Him. Personally, I find guidance through dreams, Bible scripture, and sometimes even random conversation. The other week, I was at a wedding where I found out I had a fan of my blog for the past year and a half! It was an encouragement to keep writing.

There was a time when I’d pray for changes in weather as a form of guidance. I remember asking if a certain path was meant for my life. I’d ask for rain when it was forecasted to be sunny, and sun for when it forecasted rain. Each time, I’d get a positive response. But then one night, I prayed for the next morning to be sunny if God’s answer was yes, and cloudy if no. The next morning I woke up, and the sky was blue and clear. But still feeling tired, I fell back asleep, and woke up to a cloudy sky. And so, I ask you, reader: What was the answer?

Sometimes, like I said before, I think God lets us make our own choices. You won’t miss the sign if He sends one. He’s the God who created and formed you—if anyone knows how to get your attention, it’s Him.

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