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Praying for Parking Spaces


We all know the saying, "It's the little things that count." This worn-out phrase has been used to describe everything from dieting to suitcase weight limits at the airport.

But the little things count most to God. That was the Sunday message from Lon Solomon, senior pastor of McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va. Solomon refuted the principles of Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View, a book by Multnomah Bible College professor Dr. Garry Friesen.

Friesen contends that God is like a lifeguard who watches over His children and expects them to stay within the boundary ropes of his moral law--those principles and commands addressed in the Bible. He expects His children to obey these limits, but inside the boundary ropes, they are free to swim as they please. In other words, Friesen is saying God does not care about our choices for situations that are not specifically addressed in the Bible, such as whom to marry, what house to rent or where to attend college, Solomon says.

Or in Friesen's words:

It is obvious to the student of the Bible that God's moral will does not specifically address every decision we make. That would be impossible. For not only are there too many decisions to prescribe, there are choices that are required in our modern setting that were unknown in the biblical world--which car to buy, what television program to watch, etc.

Friesen writes in his book about "The Principle of Freedom," as follows: "Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose." But Solomon says that Freisen’s theory "cheapens God’s role" in our lives. It lessens our dependence on God and goes directly against Jesus' own words in John 15:5, when he said, "For without me ye can do nothing."

Here are a few passages Solomon cites:

  • Genesis 24 when God leads Abraham’s servant specifically to Rebekah, the woman God had chosen for Abraham’s son, Isaac, to marry.
  • Genesis 28 when Jacob flees from his brother Esau and relies completely on God’s leading for his itinerary, clothes and food.
  • Numbers 9 when the Israelites followed the cloud above the tabernacle wherever it went.
  • 1 Samuel 30 when David asks the Lord if he should pursue the Amalekites, who took captive his wives and his men's families. The Lord says, “Pursue.” David does, and he is victorious.
  • Amos 7 when Amos talks about how the Lord told him to go into the ministry.
  • Luke 6 when Jesus prayed all night before choosing the 12 apostles.

Because Solomon believes so strongly that God wants to be involved in every detail, he even prays for parking spaces when he travels to Washington, D.C., where daily parking hunts mirror those at the mall on Christmas Eve. Is there anything too small to ask for God’s guidance? Looking at Scripture, it is clear that God wants to be included. He is the Great Counselor, after all. We have free will, of course, and God will both teach and bless His children even through missteps. But we know we cheapen His grace when we go our own way. This teaching has made me think more about how I don't mind taking the big decisions to God, but I often overlook the opportunity to take the little things to Him. It's a deeper encouragement to me that the Great Shepherd cares infinitely more about me than anyone ever could. It is one of the most compelling tenets of our faith, that which beckons unbelievers to take notice and to truly know that the God of the Universe yearns for more than a shallow relationship with them.

Skeptics--even in the Christian world, where we are supposed to be the most in touch with God--laugh at the notion of taking everything to God...but just how grand are the blessings when we do talk to Him? I would like to know others' thoughts...


Comments:

Christina, God the Holy Spirit has Paul say in Acts that God determines the exact times and places where people will live, that they might turn to Him. In the OT, we are told that He determines our footsteps. These necessarily indicate that He -does- care who we will marry (though we won't know until we are married, then we -know- no matter how strong the temptation to break the blood covenant of marriage might be at times) He knows the number of hairs on our head. We mean much more to Him than a sparrow, and He knows all about all of them, constantly. It seems to me that the understanding of God of the incompatiblists of either stripe is too small, too circumscribed.
GL, I’m not an expert on Friesen; I was commenting on the sermon I heard. That said, I think we have the same interpretation of Friesen’s theory, but perhaps my word choice is the culprit for the confusion here. Friesen would say that God doesn't have a preference (I said “doesn't care”) who you marry as long as she fits under his moral law, i.e. she is a believer. He would say God gives you the freedom to choose whom you will marry, that there may be several acceptable spouses for you and that He cares that you obey his law by excluding unbelievers from your marriage prospects or those who violate His moral law. Concerning moral will and ink pens...Well, I would agree that God probably doesn’t care if you use a blue pen or a black pen—unless of course you steal it first! If you listen to Solomon's sermon (linked in my post earlier yesterday), the examples of these details that Solomon believes God has a specific plan for are those such as who you marry, what college you attend, what job you take, etc. God also cares about what concerns His children down to the smallest details, and it appears Solomon was trying to show that you can take any need to the Lord. Finally, the goal of my post was to encourage others to put more reliance on God and to keep their communication open with Him. The spirit of that was lost somewhere in the muddle of the idea of praying for parking.
If the parking space has a handicapp sign in front of it, and you find yourself not being a handicapp and yet still conficted as to weather you should park there or not then you need to pray about it. Otherwise park anywhere you please. Let's not over think it people!.
I think that there is a distinction between offering everything in life to God moment by moment for His leading, guidance and will, and expecting to hear an audible voice or "feel" a "leading." God is sovereign, omnipotent and omniscient down to collapsing the wavestates of every subatomic particle millions of time per second throughout the entire universe, so that there -is- a stable cosmos ("He upholds the universe by the power of His Word") There is no necessary conflict between God's total control of history down to the subatomic, and genuine human moral responsibility. To deny either is to be out of step with Scripture. That it is -possible- has been shown by such people as Luis de Molina, William Lane Craig and novelist Connie Willis. Since there is no necessary conflict and Scripture teaches both, let us rest assured that both are true, pray and seek God's guidance and Lordship without fearing becoming less than being made in His Image and Likeness in doing so. We do not need and ought not to seek carving out our little area of autonomy from God.
Another question I would ask those who actively look for God's direct guidance in every single decision: how do you expect to receive your answer? I don't think there's anything wrong with praying for wisdom (which I prefer to do, rather than ask for guidance) for each and every situation. There may be some that are so 'quick' and seemingly small that we don't have or take the time to pray specifically for it. But there's nothing wrong with that prayer in any situation. But for those who expect and/or claim to 'hear' God's 'voice' giving them an answer to any of these, and then give some supposed Scriptural example of it happening, I would only ask, And when have you been magically transported from one place to another? That happened to a disciple, too, didn't it? And if they quote something about 'My sheep hear My voice', then I would tell them (if, like most American Christians, they have plenty of worldly goods), "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry." After all, isn't such a command found in the Bible? Then, if they accuse me of taking the verse waaay out of context (although, given the level of Biblical ignorance in Christendom today, I might expect such a response in vain!) I will return the favor.
Having just finished a weekend with my grandchildren, I can't help but think that my desires as a grandparent are a reflection of my Heavenly Father's desire for a close and ongoing relationship with me. This, along with Jesus' reminder that God values childlike faith, points me to a relational view that coincides with Pastor Solomon's. I may not have directly answered every comment they made, but the fact that my grandchildren's eyes were continually turning to catch mine reminded me of the intimate relationship we share. This relationship will grow and mature with time, but I find our current ongoing connection especially precious... perhaps God doesn't want us to think we can outgrow our need for this kind of connection with Him.
This strikes me as a mis-reading of Friessen, who is not advocating being autonomous FROM God but rather WITHIN God's parameters exercising God-given freedom. Does God have a "moral" will about whether a person selects blue ink pens or black ink pens? Is this a "moral" consideration? This seems like the conflation of categories to me.
I think there's a healthy balance to be had here. I agree with you that God wants to be included in all our decisions, in even the mundane aspects of our life. How else are we to "pray continually" (1 Thess 5:17)? But at the same time, I don't believe God always gives us a specific answer to every question we ask him. Sometimes I think the answer will be, "Choose for yourself." Picture the benevolent father who takes his son to the ice cream store. Should the son obsess over which ice cream flavor to get, wanting to pick the "right" one? His father might give him a recommendation, but ultimately he wants his son to pick the flavor that pleases him, because he wants to give him a gift. I think there are decisions in our life that are like this, and while we should bring everything before God, we should be comfortable with making a choice on our own if we don't hear a specific answer.