Recently, my wife was talking about Christians who say that they “will pray about it” when presented with opportunities to participate in ministry and evangelism opportunities. Brittni laughed as she mused, “There are some things that you don’t need to pray about!” As I thought about her statement, I found myself wholeheartedly
agreeing with her: If we are true followers of Jesus, then there really are some decisions that we can make without needing to wonder if we are God’s will, or not.
Our society has made the term Christian into more of a societal and political label than it was ever intended to be. In fact, it was unbelievers who appear to have first coined the term Christian, based on Jesus’ followers’ tendency to imitate him (Acts 11:26). If that was the case for the first Christians, as it certainly appears, then the same should be found true of the lives of modern men and women who call themselves Christians. In fact, if it’s not true of the life of someone who dons that title, then there is reason to believe that that person may believe that they are something that they simply are not (Matt. 7:21; 2 Cor. 13:5).
So what kinds of decisions simply do not always need prayerful consideration? Romans 8:29 states that God’s purpose for all Christians is that they would be “conformed to the image of [Christ].” Therefore, we do not need to pray about anything that would achieve that purpose. The next question to consider is: What was the image of Christ? For starters, he was selfless. 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” It is easy to immediately picture Jesus literally laying down his life on the cross,
but the context of the verse does not suggest that was picture that John had in mind as he wrote. Instead, it seems that John meant that Jesus’ way of life, prior to the cross, was a selfless and daily laying down of himself for others (Matt. 5:22-43, Jn. 13:1-17, Phil. 2:6-11). With that in mind, we should never have to wonder whether, or not, it is God’s will for us to give of ourselves, our resources, or our time for the good of others and the good of his Kingdom. As Jesus said in Matthew 13:15, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” You don’t need to pray about it: Serve others.
As Jesus said in Matthew 13:15, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
The idea of serving others certainly pertains to the physical needs of others, but a greater service to others is to seek first their eternal salvation. This does not mean that we should neglect their physical needs in order to concentrate on their spiritual ones. Rather, it means that our motivation to demonstrate biblical love for others, including meeting their physical needs, should be wholly spiritual in nature. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Furthermore, Jesus said that the purpose of his life was to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). In addition to that, his final words to his disciples were that they should go into the entire world and make disciples (Matt. 28:19). So this is an easy one: If you are presented with an opportunity to participate in evangelism to the lost, then you don’t always need to pray about that. If that was Jesus’ purpose while on earth, then it is also God’s will for you, in order for you to be conformed into Jesus’ image. If you have not been presented with such an opportunity to participate in intentional evangelism, then you don’t need to pray about seeking out such opportunities: Do it! In order to be conformed to Christ’s image, we must seek as he sought.
Perhaps the most pressing question isn’t “Is it God’s will,” as much as it is “Am I willing to do God’s will?”
With all of this in view, let’s indulge in a quick reality check: We usually never actually pray about the things that we say we’ll prayerfully consider. Instead, we typically say that we’ll “pray about it” because that sounds more holy than if we were to just say, “No thanks, I don’t think I want to [fill in the blank],” so let’s stop fooling ourselves. The fact is that truly following Jesus will cost us our lives (Luke 9:23). Some people will literally die for his name, but everyone who has truly received his salvation will definitely give their lives to the end that Jesus’ name might be proclaimed in all the earth, including where they are right now, so that the lost would come to worship him as Savior and King. Perhaps the most pressing question isn’t “Is it God’s will,” as much as it is “Am I willing to do God’s will?