If you are like the majority of people, you pray to some degree. If you are a Christian, you likely have a regular list of items you ask Jesus to answer for you. I know it can sometimes feel strange talking to someone you can’t see, but prayer is an important part of our faith journey. Whenever we pray, we are asking questions to Jesus. We are asking Him to act on our behalf in some way, or we are asking for direction on what we should do in some circumstance. The most difficult part of every question I ask Jesus is … waiting.
I would rather have Him answer my requests immediately. Waiting is not fun. My mind starts to wander and I get anxious to see a resolution or clear action step.
Luke 22:48-50 tells the story of Judas betraying Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As the disciples see what is about to unfold around them, they ask Jesus a question. “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” They want to know if they should use physical force to defend Jesus in this moment of betrayal. There is no immediate answer from Jesus.
If you have recently asked Jesus for some guidance on what to do in a situation in life, and if Jesus seems silent to your question … this story can give you three principles to consider.
1. When we know the right answer, but we still ask the question – why would Jesus answer us?
The disciples already had an idea of what the right answer was. Otherwise, why would they even feel like they needed to ask the question? Jesus had been warning them difficult times were about to come. He had told them He was going to die. Yet, in this moment – they still asked Him what they should do.
There are times when we ask Jesus what we should do, but there are already clear commands or even principles in the Bible where God has already told us what to do. Don’t expect Jesus to answer a question He has already answered. We often look for some mystical experience of God revealing His will, when the Bible has already shown us, but we don’t want to submit to what has already been said.
2. When we know the right answer, but we act by our instinct, it is an example of operating in the flesh.
I really believe the disciples, and Peter in particular, believed they were doing a loving act for Jesus. Their instinct was to fight.
In this case, their instinct seems to run against what they already knew was the right answer. When our instinct is not in line with the will of God, we are operating out of our flesh. We are taking matters into our own hands. Even when it feels like the right thing to do, it is not always the right thing to do.
3. When we act before Jesus answers us, we can hurt others.
Time seemed to be running out, and somebody needed to do something. Jesus wasn’t answering their question and now the soldiers have arrived. Peter takes it upon himself to act and cuts off the right ear of the high priest’s servant in the process. In Luke 22:51 He finally speaks up and says, “No more of this.”
There have been many moments when I have chosen to take matters into my own hands. It doesn’t feel like He is giving me an answer and so I just act because I have to do something. When we act before Jesus answers, other people can get hurt because we are operating on our own and not with Him.
The Response of Jesus
When Jesus does respond to Peter and the disciples – He responds with grace. He brought healing to the servant they hurt. He laid down His own life for the disciples to be forgiven.
Waiting and Surrender
Asking Jesus questions on what actions we should take in life is all about personal surrender. We choose to trust His ways are what will glorify God and bring us life.
If He has already given us the answer, we surrender to what we know and we do it.
Sometimes Jesus doesn’t answer the question because there is a bigger plan and purpose unfolding. This was certainly the case for the disciples in this story. Their act of surrender should have been to wait for Jesus to fulfill His purpose of dying and then conquering death.
If you are waiting for Jesus to answer your question for direction, consider which of the three principles in this reflection apply to you. Surrender your question to His will. If necessary, confess your lack of surrender to Him and choose today to trust Him while you wait. He can be counted on with your situation and life.