Preparing to be led by God – part 7

When I teach missionary candidates about this subject, I use the illustration of a dog being pulled on a leash against his will. This is the picture of how it’s going to be for you in your first couple of years on the mission field. You can reduce this time if you can get prepared for being led by God.

When you begin to walk into your people grouping, you will be traveling into towns that might have a person of peace. How are you going to find them? You will need to be led to them by God. How do you learn this? You need to start now learning before you get to the other side of the world. You need to learn how to be still and quiet. You need to learn how to stop the wheels of your own thoughts from spinning. Your number one problem keeping you from accomplishing God’s will in your life is you. God dosent have a problem and the totally unreached people groups are waiting on you so you need to get right.

You will have to do a few simple things in order to begin to allow God to speak and reveal things to you.

Sit down, shut up, and stop thinking

Most Christians have mostly a one-sided relationship/converstaion with God. Because they are doing most of the talking, God cannot talk back to them. If he is talking, we just don’t hear it because we are talking, singing, thinking or are distracted by any little thing. The blue illustration below is what most Christians do.

What we need to do is reverse this and start listening to God. Allow him to do the talking. Allow him to reveal the missiology of Christ among other things. Most people think that prayer is mainly me doing the talking, pondering, self-examination, self-focus, and self-whatever. Basically, God does not care much about what you think or believe, or want. Try to take an hour to look at verses 5-13 of Matthew 6. Forget about what you know, what you think, and what you believe, and just read and sit down, shut up, and stop thinking.

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

This prayer takes less than a minute, you don’t need to add to it or go through long rituals getting your self whipped up into an emotional feeling. You just need to let the words come out of your mouth and focus your attention on God the Father. It is HIS will you are praying to be done, and HIS kingdom you are praying to come.

  1. Dont keep babbling
  2. Pray in secret
  3. Pray the simple prayer
  4. Focus on God
  5. Listen

If you don’t hear God saying anything, ask yourself these questions:

Did you lose your focus on God?
Did you start to think about other things?
Is your mind going from thought to thought?

Most people cannot stop their minds from circling from thought to thought, and this is why their prayer is more about them talking than God talking. They have a long list of things that they talk about and never get to know God’s voice. This is why most people will never make it in totally unreached people groups. They just don’t know God and therefore will never be able to be led by him.

This is not meditation. This is taking control, self-control, of your mind and not allowing thoughts to come in.

I am going to give you an example. Think of the most interesting person in the world that you would like to meet. Now, imagine that you won a trip to spend a day with that person. Would you be doing all the talking? No, you would have only questions and you would make them short so that you could sit for hours listening to that person go on about their life and experiences. They might have a question or two for you but you would answer quickly so that you could be getting to know them.

OK, so where do you start?

  1. You need to get to know the content of the New Testament, especially the Gospels
  2. You need to sit down, shut up and stop thinking and let God and Jesus talk to you in prayer (God doing most of the talking) and in reading his word.
  3. You need to slow down the busyness of your life
  4. Get enough sleep (at least 7 hours)
  5. Eat right
  6. Exercise
  7. Cut down on your useless information intake

Hearing from God includes being led by God. If you are going to be able to hear from God on the mission field, you will have to spend hours in your Gospels. Jesus is God, learn to know who Jesus is by what the disciples wrote down for us. Think deeply about why the disciples wrote those things for us. If you study for a degree, you will spend hours in books. Missionaries study hours in books and for some reason, this has not gotten the Gospel into the most remote and unreached areas of the world. A good friend of mine said “Missionary agencies look for calling and not for character.” We need to be like Christ and this means hearing from the Father and obeying.

You will be going into a rural setting and culture

Most missionaries live fast-paced big city lives and are trained in big organizations who also are in fast-paced big cities and then they think that they will be able to make an impact in a rural environment. This has not worked out very well. The data is evidence that most missionaries come home after 4 to 6 years. Some may last 10 but totally unreached peoples cannot be reached or researched for that matter in 10 years.

You will have to learn how to slow down your lifestyle and learn to listen to God. Listening involves being aligned to how he thinks and what he wants and then taking action obeying where to go, your person of peace.

When we read the New Testament we usually read it as a ritual, getting through our quiet time, devotional, or whatever you want to call it. We read our Bibles because we know that we should. But our Bible reading is also much like the blue illustration above. We are interpreting it through what we think and believe. This is why most of Christ’s missiology goes over our heads. We don’t understand. We are interpreting it through our context and our own experience. Some may read so that they can be considered good Christians. Whatever the reason we read, most never stop to contemplate asking what God is saying to us.

Several times, I was on research trips in totally unreached people groups with other men. I would stop and sit down and wait and they questioned me or sometimes insisted that we move on. I would say, just sit here. “Why?” they asked. “I don’t know why”, I replied. I just know we are supposed to wait. Shortly the person of peace would walk by or the ones that wanted to do us harm walked by.

Most people think that prayer is a ritual where we babel on like the pagans thinking that our many words will somehow convince God to give us what we want. We misinterperating the scripture of the persistent widow as though she babeled on and on. She had one request, one phrase she prayed every day, and then waited on the Judge to give her Justice. She was persistent with few words and then waited for an answer. She was walking to the court and not in her room. She prayed, and waited. You will need to BE IN A STATE OF WAITING FOR AN ANSWER OR GUIDANCE. You will have to shut up and be patient and clear your mind.

When you read the Gospels, slow down. This will take hours and days and weeks and months. You need to read a little and listen a lot. When you pray, you need to pray a little and listen a lot. I am almost always in a totally stopped mind when God speaks to me. You have to be. If you are in a training course that requires you to follow specific instructions, you cannot be thinking about anything, you have to be listening closely, paying attention, and taking down good notes.

When I was a new missionary my pastor made me carry a small notepad and pen in my pocket. Every time he gave me something to do I had to write it down. He was brought to this extreme because I was not paying attention to what he told me to do. To this day all those in our discipleship carry a notepad and pen in their pockets, well those who are paying attention.

In the personal discipleship we do with missionary candidates, we talk a lot about paying close attention to your surroundings. Being alert, keeping focused, and keeping your mind clear of stray thoughts.

You cannot expect to go into a remote totally unreached people group, walking in rural areas in dusty towns, and actually find the person of peace if you have not learned to listen to and be led by God. If you are getting up in the morning, hurrying through your reading, and then off to a busy busy day full of information overload, so much so that you have a hard time sleeping, you will not be going into the rural mission field soon.

The other thing about the rural mission field is that you will not be able to relate well with people if you are a fast-paced big city person. If you are going to be able to learn another culture and language in a rural setting, you will have to become more like them. They will not feel comfortable around you if your life has not slowed down its pace.