Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
A friend of mine, whom we will call Tom, called this week looking for financial advice. He is unfortunately generally unaware of the workings of investing. He was very unhappy with his financial advisor and due to the Coronavirus had seen his saving shrink considerably. Far more than the rest of the stock market.
His mistake was he went with a financial advisor who invested in some highly speculative places. Naturally, in a steep downturn, like we are having, these investments will perform poorly. And these investments also contain very high fees, further eroding his nest egg.
Instead of answering his question, I asked him two questions. The first is what were his goals? In other words, what was he saving for; retirement, a nest egg to cushion difficult times or college.
The second question was had he prayed before he made his decision? And had to go to God to seek advice?
In both cases he had done neither, leaving him exposed to luck and the wiles of a person he had only met with for an hour or so.
Ironically, the same day, another person, whom we will call Sally, called seeking the same advice. In this difficult time, she had a different plan. She was looking to save money wherever she could and was cutting household expenses quickly. To her cash was king. She wasn’t looking to score a big return, instead, she was looking to protect her family.
She knew that the Coronavirus not only affected her family’s health but also her ability to provide for her family. She knew jobs would be at a premium and this wasn’t the time to get risky.
She also prayed a lot. Seeking guidance and wisdom.
I could not offer her any new wisdom, other than just keep doing what she was doing and to stay close to God.
In Colossians, a book chock full of great advice, it says; Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Three pieces of wonderful advice; pray and pray a lot; be watchful and be thankful.
This is what tough times require. So let’s start with, why prayer, and how to pray. First, have faith that God is the source of all answers, not just another place to go. With an open mind and in a quiet place, layout your worries and ask; what do I do? Then listen with a clear head, what the Spirit is telling us.
Some people will say that it is way too simple. Well, it isn’t, the hardest part is being open and receptive. Not having preconceived ideas in prayer or our personal wishes is very hard to do. But prayer requires us to be a blank piece of paper. The more we remove ourselves and our wishes, the more God can talk to us and give us His plan.
Now you might not get your answer in the prayer session, but the answer will come shortly. It might be through a Bible verse you read latter. Or perhaps through circumstances or another person. But only you will know what is a real answer or an illusion.
This is where being watchful comes in. First and foremost know the facts. Know what God is telling you and know your situation. Know both of these in great detail. Then as events play out, you will see God working.
This process is a commitment on our parts. It is not just going to God and asking. It is also a responsibility to know the facts and the details of our lives and what God is saying to us. God isn’t a genie, that we ask, and we automatically receive. Always remember we are in a partnership with God. This partnership requires us to be watchful.
Then we turn to thankful. By going to God and then being watchful; God’s plan in our lives we be revealed. It is here that we can be thankful. Thankful that God listened and for God. And there is no greater feeling of accomplishment when your plans with God work out. You become assured of God’s love and God’s presence.
Now both Tom and Sally are not their real names, those names will remain anonymous. Sally put in the work. She had tossed and turned her numbers. She had focused on what was most important. She knew God wanted her to protect her family. She knew it was a big task and it required a lot of extra thinking. She wasn’t going to let the Coronavirus threaten her family. This was what she felt God wanted her to do.
Her very nature is humility and hard work. Those her know her would agree. She is also a woman of great faith. Knowing her, I know when she started to pray, she didn’t bring her personal wishes to God, but openly looked for help. She didn’t cloud the issue with thoughts of grandeur or to get God to rubber-stamp her ideas. She wanted answers from a place that had answered her continuously in her life. This was serious business and she was serious.
Tom was looking for the big hit. A clever advisor had gotten Tom to hand over his life savings. A quick and easy way to become wealthier. What seemed to be good to be true was just that, too good to be true. He didn’t pray or become watchful. He went for the Hail Mary, in a time when risk needed to be eliminated.
Now you might ask, why didn’t he go to God first? Well, if you knew Tom, he is a great Christian and knows the Bible really well, but Tom is also prone to taking short cuts. Too quick to seek the next great thing.
Sure he has a great relationship with God, but in this case, his Achilles heel got exposed.
And that is the point of being watchful in prayer. Slow down and make sure you know what God is telling you to do. Rid ourselves of our wishes, so that we can replace them with God’s and common sense.
These are difficult days. And with certainty, I know things will be better. But in these times we have to make good decisions.
We only need to do three things;
- Be devoted to prayer
- Be watchful
- Be thankful
And don’t forget God is with us.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
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