Seeking Personal Advice from God: Another Arrow in the Quiver

Why the archery reference? Maybe it is because it is just such an apt analogy.  More likely it is because I happened to win the amateur archery contest over spring break.  Granted, none of the other contestants had ever shot a bow and arrow more than a couple of times, so my Boy Scout archery merit badge paid off in spades and I walked away from the event with the grand prize—a $2 hat with the name of our hotel on it.

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about the many types of decisions we all face.  The choices I am faced with are unique and often difficult for me. I’m sure you feel the same way about yours.  Because these decisions can be so hard, I find myself looking for every useful tool I can find.  I have a whole “quiver” of them.  I look things up on the internet and read books. I seek advice from friends and family.  I ask for help from whoever I feel comfortable.  I make extensive spreadsheets detailing the pros and cons of each decision (for which my wife mocks me mercilessly). But one thing that I have learned is that my best “arrow” in helping me hit the “target” is to seek advice directly from God.

I have found that whatever decision I am facing, if I seek for help from the Lord in prayer He ALWAYS ends up helping me in knowing what to do.  Sometimes I have the struck-by-lightning kind of feeling and instantly know how to solve my problem after asking God for help.  More often, it is a small, simple, gradual, and wonderful process of peaceful feelings and impressions.

I do have to say, that every once in a while I end up feeling like I’m not getting much in the way of guidance. What I’ve come to realize is that those are usually the times that I’m asking God just tell me what to do, and to basically make the decision for me. However, this approach normally doesn’t go over so well.

It’s a lot like the kids I used to tutor at the high school.  They would want me to give them the answers for their math or science homework, but instead I would help them walk step by step through the problems.  If they started to go off course I’d help guide them back and if they were on the right track I’d just nod my head and they’d keep plugging along.  This is how it usually works for me.  I feel small feelings guiding me in the direction I need to go, and after I follow through I get more guiding me further.

In the end, the students were better off because I didn’t just give them the answer right away, but made them work for it.  They valued the answers more because they did the work, and they became more capable of dealing with similar things in the future. In a similar manner, we’re better off for working through our decisions step by step than if God would have just dropped the solution in our laps.

Developing this kind of relationship with God really shapes my decision making process and hence every aspect of my life.  It’s a large part of my everyday experience as a Mormon and I hope it can be helpful to you.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “Seeking Personal Advice from God: Another Arrow in the Quiver

  1. Adam

    what do you do when you get no guidance or direction at all? what happens when god, if one does exist, is seemingly silent? when you look for some greater purpose and all you seem to find is a grim, bare, meaningless existence?

    or does that not happen to you?

    1. Jacob

      Adam- I really appreciate you asking that, I think it’s an excellent question. I’ll do my best to answer.

      First off, I definitely feel like I’ve had my times of doubt, darkness, and confusion. I honestly don’t know how these periods have compared with anyone else’s (they were probably on the mild side), but for me they were still extremely difficult.

      I think whether God is really there and if he really answers prayers is THE question we each need to ask. Finding the answer to this question can end up defining your entire life and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I don’t think it is an easy question to answer either, because it isn’t something that someone else can convince you of, it’s something every person has to figure out for themselves. Even if you could be *convinced*, we both know that I’m not very persuasive.

      I wouldn’t dream of claiming that I understand why you have felt silence from God. I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that when I have felt God answer my prayers after periods of silence and doubt, it has been some of the sweetest moments of my life. For me, it was like my heart which had been bitter, hard, and resentful, was finally able to crack and soften and I felt overwhelming love, gratitude, and faith. It’s hard to explain, but I have felt completely changed by these experiences. I can only hope that when you finally feel that silence end your experience will be just as important and special to you.

      My hope, Adam, is that you don’t give up looking and hoping to find those answers and that purpose. I’m confident that if you keep searching, you’ll get your answers. My answers have been my greatest source of peace and joy and I hope you get the same result.

      Not sure how well this answers your question. There are a lot of aspects to talk about and I don’t want to make this reply 10 pages long. What other questions to do you have. Feel free to post them here, or you know where to find me.

      Also, some friends have been working on another blog which tries to address some of the questions you may have about life’s purpose and such. Let me know what you think of that.

      and thanks for posting 🙂

  2. Josh

    I find it easy to relate. A ‘grim, bare, meaningless existence’ seems to almost perfectly describe the places I’ve been. Its like you could vanish from existence or completely cease to exist and the only notice someone would give, is found in the question “why hasn’t someone cleaned the public restroom today?” Might sound a little dramatic – but those places are as real to me a the screen I’m staring at. But today, there’s sunshine inside me.

    I look back at those times and wonder the exact time God was able to help me walk towards light. Its harder then it sounds. Was it when that family took me in? Was it when someone gave me a meal? Maybe it was when the local church bought Christmas presents for our family, or maybe it was when that stranger smiled at me in passing. I honestly don’t know, and that’s not what I’m trying to figure out. What Im trying to figure out is how to be that same help to another. Because as bad as things got, and as much as I didn’t want to admit it, all I had to do was look around, and sure enough that man didn’t have shoes, and that lady couldn’t see out of her bruised eye enough to take care of her crying baby.

    My point is this, the first time I heard Him say ‘feed my sheep’ I didn’t get it – I still don’t completely, but I know enough to see that its not all about me finding Him. Its about me helping them find Him (in whatever capacity I can) and in so doing He is near and we all become more like Him – whether we know it or not. Hang in there Man, I’m thinking about ya, where ever you are.

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