Seeing God

Vision and Prayer

Romans 15:22–29 (NKJV)

For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

Paul never got to Spain. He eventually got to Rome, but as a prisoner, not a traveler. Of all the amazing, spirit led Christians who ever lived, Paul ranks near the top. So how could he have gotten this so totally wrong?

We don’t know, but it’s a lesson in how Christians should plan. Our plans are always subject to revision, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make them. Paul’s plans on this journey kept getting revised too. That’s why he had been much hindered from coming to Rome. But he just took it in stride. He never thought, “Something’s wrong here.” The word “hindered” isn’t meant to convey frustration or discouragement; his plans were just OBE (overtaken by events).

This is what vision is all about. Vision doesn’t require prophetic insight; it just requires plans (well-made ones, anyway). That means thinking strategically and making plans that fit the strategy.

Paul’s plans were constantly being hindered but his goals stayed on track. He knew what he was doing, and why he was doing it. It was the details that kept flopping around like a trout in a fishing boat.

The takeaway here is to expect, even enjoy, the curveballs that the Lord throws at you. Vision provides context for interpreting His response. That helps you see God.

Hmmm. That’s weird. “Vision” helps you see.

Prayer does the same thing. Without prayer, things seem random, but in the context of prayer God’s actions take on meaning.

Imagine if Gideon hadn’t prayed (Judges 6:36-40). The inconsistent dew on the fleece would have just been annoying. Maybe he could have done a scientific study on the effects of temperature on humidity.

Instead, his prayer made sense of everything. He made contact with God and knew what to do next.

But notice that his prayer was about his vision. That’s the secret sauce.

By combining prayer with vision, and letting God direct his plans, Gideon discerned God’s will.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.