I discovered the payload of asking questions my first semester of college.
College textbooks make for dry reading, would you agree? When I was a freshman, someone gave me these study tips for plowing through a dull chapter of my psychology textbook:
- Note the chapter title.
- Browse through the subheadings in the chapter.
- Write down questions that spring to your mind as you read the chapter title and those sub-headings.
- THEN read the chapter, highlighting passages that answer your questions.
You know what? It worked! Asking curiosity questions piqued my interest in what I was reading and I retained the information much better. Suddenly Psychology 101 wasn’t so boring. I wanted to learn. I wanted to discover. The method became my own kind of Skinner box stimulus and response: the reward of finding answers made me want to do it again. (See? I did learn and retain something from Psych 101!)
Asking questions can stimulate our walk with God.
Have you had periods of life when one day fades into another and the days become nothing but a cycle of tedium? Your spiritual life seems as stagnant as a swamp, and you wish you could see God at work in the here and now but God seems strangely silent and absent. You know what the Bible says and you are doing your best to live morally, but you wonder how living and active God really is.
I know I have. At times, my relationship with God has felt as dry and tedious as a psychology textbook. Through glazed eyes, I read the Bible and dully thought, “What’s that supposed to mean?” When I’ve used the method of asking questions before I started to read my Bible, the same thing happens as when I read my Psychology text: the Bible suddenly makes so much more sense.
Then I close my Bible and walk out into real life. I hit another snag: the doldrums of the daily grind. How am I supposed to apply what I’ve read? When do I know if I’m living up to what I’ve read in the Bible and if I’m following God’s will for my life?
How can I know God is working in our world and in my life today?
Let me share a secret with you. Asking certain questions at the beginning of your day can revitalize your ordinary moments and reveal just how much God is at work within your life.
It’s a matter of becoming intentional. When you take the initiative to look for God in the nooks and crannies of your everyday, you’ll discover new things about God. You’ll see Him active and at work in ways you’ve never noticed before.
Let me share the questions that have moved me into a spiritual growth spurt and have helped me to see God and His will for me in ways I’ve never seen before. You can revitalize your relationship with God by asking these 4 questions at the beginning of each day.
Lord, what do You want me to see?
I talk about my intentionality of seeing God’s creation in my book, With Fresh Eyes. After God gave me better vision than I had ever had in my life, I had to be deliberate in discovering what my new vision allowed me to see. And, Wow-de-Wow, as my friend Kim Jackson from Elder Orphan Care likes to say. I discovered a whole world. I found that swamps aren’t stagnant at all but contain living, breathing, intricate, and complex ecosystems. The skies really do broadcast God’s glory, the Lord has splashed His extravagant love across the horizon through the palette of a sunset, and birds can waste hours of my day with their incredible routines and antics.
When I asked, “Lord, what do YOU want me to see?” He pointed out amazing parts of creation to me. It was like He rubbed his hands together and said, “Boy oh boy oh boy, do I have some treasures to show you!” Even six years after that life changing surgery, I’m still enjoying the discovery of what God wants to show me each day.
Try it. Ask, “Lord what do you want me to see?” Check out and revel in what He has to show you.
Lord, who do You want me to see?
Asking this question was as revolutionary as the first question. I devote an entire message to this topic in my speaking because it completely changed the way I connect and interact with people.
Maybe you are like me. It’s so easy to get sucked into my little routines and comfort zones of the people I want to reach out to during my day. I seek out certain friends and family members at church. I like to go to the same store and it would be nice to go to the same restaurant each time where my favorite server remembers I like coffee with 2% milk in that little pitcher you bring to the table, please.
When I asked, “Lord, who do YOU want me to see?” He brought forth a queue of people I normally wouldn’t associate with. The lady in church who asked about my daughter’s international work and said she was praying for my husband’s recovery from surgery. The worker in the grocery store produce department who had once spoke gruffly to me but was really a nice guy when I engaged him in conversation. The two men living together who needed to sell a washing machine and once we started talking, we found out they had both had back issues similar to what my husband experiences. We stood in their carport, sharing back pain war stories.
My life is richer because I interacted with people God brought into my life instead of staying in my own concocted circles. Only God knows how He used me to enrich their lives.
Lord, what do You want me to learn about You?
This is a great question to ask before you open your Bible each day. But it doesn’t have to be reserved to those few moments of formal devotions. As you enjoy God’s creation, interact with people, face daily life situations, or hit unpleasant snags, this one question can keep you from drudgery and despair, for it lets you see life happenings from God’s perspective instead of how the world views life.
If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know I’m big on to-do lists. Yes, I’m a planner, not a “pantster.” I confess, I tend to fret, wondering if I’m doing all I’m supposed to be doing for God’s Kingdom. I’m slowly learning that God is as interested in what I become as much as in what I do. In order to become like Jesus, I have to learn what He has in mind for me to be. That learning process means I need to take time to quiet my mind and soul, and sit at His feet to listen to Him.
Lord, what do you want me to do today?
Doing is still important, equally important because the doing helps us apply the learning. The breakdown comes when God has His ideas of what He wants me to do and I have my ideas of how I think I can help Him out. I’m learning to look away from my to-do list and ask, “Lord what do You want me to do today? Will You please show me through the course of my day?”
I find it amazing how clear cut His answer often is to that request. Many times, God has brought situations, work, or projects across my desk at just the right moment. I’ve finished one project and wondered what’s next. Within a couple of days, the Lord brings something new my way.
I’ve also had interruptions in the middle of my schedule that, at first, I’ve resented because I thought they were keeping me from what I was supposed to be doing. Over time, I’ve learned to see these moments as “divine interruptions” or better said, “divine redirection.” In hindsight, when I went with the moment, those redirections became the highlight of my day.
When you and I ask, “Lord what do you want me to do today,” we give God permission to mess with our schedule and redirect us into new avenues of Kingdom work we hadn’t thought we could do. I’m here to tell you; it can be downright exciting to see where God takes us when we relinquish our day-planners and allow Him to partner with our plans.
Jeremiah 33:3 says,
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”Jer 33:3, NIV
It’s so exciting to open God’s customized planbook for your life and discover what He has waiting for you. It’s even more exciting when you initiate the process by saying, “Lord, what do You have to show me today?”
Ask and then start looking.
Do my questions sound scary? Do you find yourself hesitating to ask these questions? God might answer and you’re not sure if you can handle the onslaught?
Here’s an idea. Start with one of the questions each day. Then look with intentionality for God’s answer to that one question. Next week, go to the second question and ask God only that one question.
What did you discover? Tell us in the comments below.
Rejoice with me!
My book, With Fresh Eyes, has now won two national awards! Thank you, Lord, for this blessing!