Have you ever found yourself at an impasse?
During heated negotiations over the wording of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress reached an impasse on several points, especially regarding slavery. A resolution seemed impossible.
It’s hard to imagine that there were any disagreements with the crafting of this awesome document. Under the glass of the National Archives building, it look so regal, so official, so . . . perfect. These men knew what they wanted and they had the courage to spell it out to good ole’ tyrannical King George.
But they didn’t. They disagreed. Heatedly. What did they do? How did they get that document finalized and signed by July 4th, the day we now celebrate as Independence Day?
They stopped their meeting and prayed.
That prayer wasn’t born in a vacuum. 155 years had passed since the Pilgrims sought religious freedom on the shores of Plymouth Rock. In 150 years, all kinds of things can happen to a religious movement. The populace had slid away from God. Yet, in the early to mid-1700’s, God called forth powerful preachers like Jonathon Edwards and John Wesley who through God’s power, brought about what is known as the Great Awakening. Men like George Washington and John Adams were the next generation brought up under the influence of this return to God. Turning in prayer when they faced a problem was to them, a natural thing to do.
John Adams, who was there, wrote to his wife Abigail, “The most amazing thing occurred. Even the stern old Quakers had tears gushing down their cheeks.” Prayer didn’t solve the slavery issue, but it did change the hearts and minds of the men that day so they were able to reach an agreement.
What a novel thought. How intriguing. Think of all the disagreements that happen in Congress, between the President and Congress, on city councils, school boards, <gulp> church committee meetings, between parents and teenagers,and <blush> between marriage partners. What would happen to conflicts if folks stopped and prayed about it?
What would happen if:
- The president, congress and judiciary began praying sincerely and openly for God’s will to be done?
- Churches stopped in the middle of board meetings to pray about disagreements?
- Our children saw Mom and Dad pray about an issue instead of quarreling?
“If My people” (2 Chr 7:14) refers to God’s people, not those who don’t follow God. If we want our nation, our churches, and our families to return to God, it starts with us.
Before we dismiss the historical record and say, “Humph! Congress would never do that,” ask yourself, “Would I do that? Would I interrupt a heated discussion to encourage my group to seek the counsel of the Lord?”
We often reach impasses because we want our way and pride keeps us from caving. Think about it though. The solution is not my way or your way. The solution is God’s way. So, why not pray? Why not seek His counsel for the decision that will best reflect His world view? The resolution that is most fair, just, peace-loving, and others’ focused? A decision that yields not to greed but to grace? To integrity not self-interest? A way that uses resources in wisdom, not in waste.
Wisdom. Failure to understand the finer points of the decision causes impasse too. Sometimes we have a hard time moving forward because we just don’t know. Sometimes we fail to press forward because we fear the results of the decision we have to make. Both could have certainly been true for those men gathered in Independence Hall that warm week before July 4, 1776.
James 1:5,6 promises:
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind (NLT)
Proverbs 3:5,6 tells us to
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take (NLT)
Are you at an impasse with someone? Are you uncertain on how to proceed with a life decision or even a daily decision? Involve God, that’s the answer. Next time you’re in a church meeting or squared off with your mate and frustrations start to flare, be the one who gently yet boldly says, “Can we stop and pray about this?” Watch how it softens tempers, evens the playing field and puts the focus where it needs to be – on God and not on ourselves.
If we want to see our nation changed, we have to be willing to change. It starts with us.
If we want to see anything change, we have to be willing to change. Put pride, doubt, and fear aside and seek guidance from the One who knows what is best.