Ask God a question, you’ll get an answer
What if every day we asked a single, risky question during our prayer time? (Photo by Bryen Apen on Unsplash.)
AFTER VISITING MY SISTER and her family who live in Panama, I was saying my goodbyes, when my brother-in-law asked me if I’d weighed my suitcase. I said no. I travel all the time, didn’t have anything out of the ordinary and had never had that suitcase overweight. He said, “It looks to me like your suitcase is overweight.” The truth is that it bothered me. I wanted to leave and didn’t feel like unpacking or re-organizing things. Still, as I went out the door, he brought me his portable scale and gave it to me. “Thanks,” I said, not intending to use it.
These things bother me. I know what I have to do and I don’t need other people telling me. I also don’t like it when the person sitting next to me on the plane starts talking. I’d much rather watch a movie or go to sleep. I don’t like being late and it bothers me when I bump into a chatty person at the mall. I have a busy life and, even though I am polite and try to be charitable to others, these things stress me out a bit.
In the car on the way to my dad’s, with whom I was having lunch before going to the airport, I thought, “Maybe God is trying to tell me something.” When I arrived at my dad’s, I weighed the bag and indeed, it was 6 pounds overweight. I took some things out, put them in my carry-on and thanked God for the “bother.” It was a silly thing, but it probably saved me some grief at check-in.
What does God want?
I tell you this little story because a few months ago, I heard a priest say that the most dangerous question is “God, what do you want me to do?” It’s true.
But I can’t ignore the message of the gospel: Jesus has redeemed us. He came to die so that we don’t have to die. I would prefer it to be that he came to suffer so that I don’t have to suffer. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Suffering, it seems, is part of life.
And that’s why I don’t like asking God what God wants me to do. What if I am asked to suffer? Because the truth is that if we follow Jesus Christ, frequently it will lead us to the cross, to suffering.
At the same time, I don’t think that God wants us to suffer. Jesus doesn’t tell his disciples that they have to suffer; instead he tells James and John that they have to drink of the same cup as he drinks because he has come to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:39, 45). And when we suffer because of service, because of love, we don’t call it suffering. We call it . . . love.
That brings me back to the most dangerous question: “God, what do you want me to do?” We might be scared to ask it because we think that Jesus is going to answer us like he did James and John, “The cup that I drink, you will drink.”
Above all Jesus wants us to love. He came to bring us life. Everything that Jesus asks of us will bring us life and will give life to others. He said it himself: I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
That can be dangerous, but maybe not so much.
A daily question
This is why I think that the most dangerous of dangerous questions is “What do you want me to do, today?” How do you want me to serve you today? I have things to do, I have plans; I have to go to work, get groceries, make dinner. But in the midst of all that, where do you want me, Lord? Who do you want me to talk to? Who do you want me to listen to? What do you want me to do?
I think that if we ask ourselves this “not-so-dangerous” question every morning, we will find freedom and opportunities that we wouldn’t find otherwise. We will find more opportunities for loving.
And so it goes. With that new attitude, my life has changed. If there’s traffic and I’m going to be late, maybe God wants me here in my car listening to this radio program or praying the Rosary. If I’m having a problem at work, maybe that chatty person in the elevator is the person who can help me. Or maybe for the girl who came uninvited to my birthday party, I can help her find a place to stay now that she’s going to Costa Rica. All these things have happened to me and even though they seem insignificant, I firmly believe that this is what God has wanted from me, day by day.
And so, after my suitcase was packed with the correct weight, on the flight on my way home I sat next to a lovely couple that, as it turns out, lives across the street from my office. What a small world! I have no idea why God placed them in my life (or my life in theirs)—I may never know—but I am sure there was a reason. There has to be, because that morning, I had asked God the most dangerous question.
Maybe God is calling you to the ordained or religious life. Maybe God wants you to go on a mission. Maybe God will call you to the single life or to get married and have a family. God doesn’t want you to suffer. God wants you to love and have life. God wants you to be happy and will never ask you to do something that he hasn’t already sown in your heart.
But before you consider that larger question: “What do you want me to do with my life?” perhaps ask that daily question: “What do you want me to do today?” This may open your heart to the possibilities and surprises that God has for you to serve, to love, and to have abundant life.
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