pray first speak later

Pray first, Speak later!

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Author: Anati Bacela

One of the most liberating pieces of advice I have been given is that 'advice is just that – advice, you do not have to take it'.

There was a time in my life I relied so much on other people’s advice and approval that I began doubting my own judgment. When God gave me guidance, I would second guess whether or not it was Him I was hearing. It took major faith steps for me to learn to trust my ability to hear from the Lord.

I remember a few years ago when the Lord prompted me to move out of home. Everyone around me was against it because I didn’t have a solid plan. My salary wasn’t enough to cover expenses such as a deposit for the new place. I told them I didn’t have a plan but I knew with all my heart that this was what God wanted me to do. Earlier that year, He had told me either  I was going to jump out of the nest or He was going to push me out,  and I would see Him catch me.

I didn’t know what that meant until the day came. I jumped out of the nest and He hasn’t stopped catching me since. My entire apartment, which I share with my sister, is full of testimonies of God providing for me before I would even ask. Whenever I would be saving up to buy something like a home appliance, God would prompt someone and they would either buy it for me or give me the money I needed for it.

Had I not trusted my gut feeling, which turned out to be the Holy Spirit’s voice, I would have missed out on this life-changing blessing. That experience has now become one of my biggest points of reference for God’s faithfulness in my life. That, and Him promising to always take care of me and my unplanned child, whom He said was not a mistake on His part. He spoke beautiful words over my then unborn child, which I get to see manifest every day of his little life. A very important and trusted person in my life had tried to convince me not to keep the baby because I had no means to provide for him. I was fresh out of college, and indeed had nothing to give him but love. But God who is faithful in all His promises changed my life around and became our sole provider, changing my situation in ways I never imagined. Had I listened to that person’s advice I would have missed out on the beautiful blessing that my son is, as well as the testimony the past five years of our lives has become, under His love and protection.

There is nothing at all wrong with seeking wise counsel, but it is very important to be prayerful in your quest for answers.

Have you prayed about it as much as you have spoken about it?

Before asking people what they think you should do, first take time out to listen to what God is saying to you. This year God and I have been on a journey of me changing my dialogue with people from ‘what do you think I should do’ to ‘please pray for me’. I realised that it was a lot more effective for someone to pray for me to hear God’s guidance, and for His will to be done in my life, than trying to get guidance from someone who sees in part, just as I do. Although there have been times when someone has said something and I immediately felt that it was the Lord speaking, there have also been many instances where the people have merely given me their opinions.

About two years ago I remember watching a painter throw paint blobs onto a canvas. He then asked an audience member to go up and continue with what he had started. Paintbrush in hand, the lady just laughed looking at the canvas clueslessly. She couldn’t make any sense of the blobs because she didn’t know what the painter’s plan was for them. They looked like a mess, but when he began blending the colours together it eventually became a beautiful picture. He did this to illustrate how we often do the same thing by asking other people to make sense of what God is doing in our lives.

God is the painter of the canvas of our life. So why do we try to hand the brush over to others for them to make sense of it? We all just see the blobs God has put on the canvas, each person will interpret that blob differently. Only God knows what the purpose of each blob is, and how He will blend and transform each colour.

I have caused myself a lot of anxiety worrying about people’s disappointment or disapproval of me for not taking the advice I knew was not right for my specific situation, or for that specific time.

Take advice only when you know that is what the Lord is saying, not out of fear or pressure. Otherwise, you will cause yourself a lot of unnecessary anxiety and may miss what the Lord is trying to do in your life. Many times it is a faith-building exercise. The more you trust His voice, the more confidence you will have in hearing Him, the more you will see him working in your life, and the more testimonies you will have to share with others.

If you have a solid relationship with the Lord and you seek His will and listen for His voice, He will answer you when you call. And when you cannot seem to hear anything just be still and trust Him. He always answers at the perfect time. Not only do we need to train ourselves not to just go where people tell us to go, we also need to train ourselves to guard our tongues. Many times our opinions cause more harm than good, even when that is not our intention. Speak into another person’s life only when the Spirit leads you to speak. You do not want to be the reason someone is misled from where the Lord is trying to take them. Sometimes our pride leads us to give advice we are not qualified to give. So we need to learn to humble ourselves before the Lord and pray more than we speak.

When you are asked or tempted to give advice to someone, offer to pray for them instead. Pray for them to get the wisdom to know what to do, the discernment to know when and how to do it, as well as the courage to do it. Pray for the Lord’s will to be done in their lives. This way you are still supporting them, but allowing the Lord to do what He wants to do. In everything, follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit because He always knows best!

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’

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