The last two posts discussed beginning with God and looking outward. This time I want to suggest “beginning” by asking for help. Beginning a new year can be exciting, but it also can be full of unknowns and questions. As a child, I was hesitant to ask a question in class. I was afraid I would look silly or would ask a dumb question. Of course I knew, “No question was a bad question,” yet I still hesitated to ask. If you had strict, white-haired Miss Sutherland as your second grade teacher, you too would be scared to raise your hand! She was small in stature, but large in intimidation.
How many times do we enter a difficult situation and not know what to do? Or we are about to begin something and not know where to start? Now I know the best place to start, even before I begin, is to just ask. It may seem obvious (but often ignored), but stopping and asking God for His help and direction is a good habit to get into.
There was a king in the Old Testament in a very sticky situation, one that was beyond him. The king’s name was Jehoshaphat, and a large multitude was coming against him and the people of Judah. (All of this is recorded in 2 Chronicles 20.) He did something that changed the course of events as he was pressed upon and under a tremendous amount of stress. He paused, acknowledging his impossible situation and lack of ability to face the vast people who were about to war upon him, and recognized his great need for help. This is what Jehoshaphat said to God:
We are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you”(2Chronicles 20:12).
First, at the beginning (or in the middle or the end for that matter!), I want to ask God for His help. Ask God, “what should I do?” or “what do you want?” I need Him to lead me. Jehoshaphat looks up, pauses and asks God because he knew this about God,
O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You” (2Chronicles 20:6).
He knew that God was great and he could trust Him. God was the One true God. Whom else should he go to?
After Jehoshaphat prayed, the Lord confirmed and spoke through one of the people what they knew to be true. He said,
Do not fear or be dismayed because of this multitude, for the battles is not yours but God’s…. do not be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” (2Chronicles 20:15,16)
Jehoshaphat and the people could trust God because the impossible situation was Gods. They could trust God because He was with them. What a difference this made to be reminded of this! God was with them.
In the same way, God is with us and can be trusted. He is also a loving Father and wants us to ask. This may seem rather simple, but often the first prayer I pray before anything else is, “What do you want God?” I ask Him for His way, His help, and His direction. I am placing myself in His care. I believe that He is with me, leading me and even going before me. How this simple prayer would have made such a difference as I started college or began as a “pledge” in my sorority. Now when I start my day, or faced with a trial or uncertainty, this is where I start. I do want His way, because it is the best way. Soon this prayer begins to overflow throughout my daily life.
Second, ask others for help. Begin with the support of others. Ask others to pray for you. When I begin something new, I often ask others for prayer. Who are a few people you could ask to pray for you as you begin this year, new phase or endeavor? It’s good to ask others for help.
Thirdly, ask how you can pray for others. This is a great way to care for others and get to know them. Often at the beginning of my kid’s school year, when I have a conference with the teacher or am getting to know them, I will ask them how I can pray for them as they start the new school year. Usually others welcome our prayers for them.
Beginnings are challenging and we do need help. As you begin this new time, begin by asking God for His help. Ask Him simply what you should do, knowing He has your best for the days ahead.
Continue in the next post: “Stop, and then Start.”
* What difference does it make to know that God is with you?
*Whom can you ask to pray for you as you are in this beginning?
* Think of a newer friendship and ask them how you can pray for them as they begin this new school year.