Course Corrections for Life and Ministry

Wisdom and insight gained from 40 years of prayer and listening to God

I asked Jager what kept him going in the midst of such incredible challenge and suffering. He answered, “Waiting upon the Lord, my brother.” I then discovered Jager spends two to three hours daily in prayer, reading and meditating on the Bible. This is what it takes to reach the world with the love of Christ. This is the kind of worker the Lord calls us to be when he entrusts us with the burdens on his heart.

This is also how it happened with the disciples’ ministry after the ascension of Christ. Scripture says, “[Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). As they waited on God, they received his call for their lives, and then they went out proclaiming his resurrection and salvation.

The calling of Saul and Barnabas happened in a similar manner. Acts 13:2–3 tells us, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

Notice especially verse 2—as they “ministered to the Lord” they heard him and found out his plan. They weren’t in a committee meeting (although there is nothing wrong with committee meetings). They hadn’t met to discuss the tremendous needs (although that is a good thing to do). No one had challenged them, saying, “You had better get out there and do something about all those lost people.” No, they heard the Lord and his plan as they waited on him.

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I find it encouraging that before the world began, God knew the purpose and plan he has for each one of us (Acts 17:26). Whether or not our human mind and our logic can grasp this, it’s true: ‘‘‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’”(Jer. 29:11).

However, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Saul and Barnabas and the disciples, we only learn of the good plans he already has prepared for us as we take the time to come into his presence and hear from him.

2. Maintain an attitude of dependence upon the Lord.

Another principle we see throughout Scripture that helps us to keep our burdens light—and one that I am incredibly concerned we’re not doing—is:

We must remain in the attitude of dependence upon the Lord.

One incident in David’s life perfectly illustrates the importance of this.

In 2 Samuel 5:19, we’re told, “David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hand?’ And the Lord said to David, ‘Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.’”

And so, after hearing from the Lord, David did what God said, and he was victorious. A few verses later, David is faced with an almost identical circumstance. Once more, the Philistines had stationed themselves in the same valley, and once more, they were waiting to attack Israel.

It would have been natural for David to respond to this battle as he did the one before. After all, the previous plan had been a success, and the enemy and the location were exactly the same. David could have easily said, “Well, it’s the same situation, so let’s just forget about another prayer meeting. We know how to get the job done. Let’s go and put these Philistines to flight.”

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But instead, he took the time to once again seek the Lord: “Therefore David inquired of the Lord, and he said, ‘You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees’” (2 Sam. 5:23).

God had a different plan this time, and David only learned of it because he was living in a constant state of of depending upon God, waiting to hear from him and obey.

As we continue on our respective journeys, God requires us to stop often along the way and seek out what he’s saying. By doing this, our love for him stays strong; the ministry that began out of that love for God remains in him; and the work is accomplished without our becoming weary and burnt out. When we stay in the attitude of continuous dependence upon God, what has begun in the Spirit remains in the Spirit and bears lasting fruit.

We must come into his presence and depend upon him, waiting to hear from him and know his ways.