Prayers for God's Leading
An emerging series of devotional and liturgical resources that explore the richness and breadth of scripture texts around discernment and calling.
We have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9).
This is the orientation page to a series of prayer resources for those who are actively seeking God's leading in times of vocational discernment, including employers or search team members selecting new employees, students choosing a college or a major or a job after graduation, and people at every stage of life making choices about when to say yes or no. Each contribution in this series is an invitation to "pray our way deeply into scripture," letting the imagery and convictions of particular scripture texts inform our own prayers. The series as a whole is an invitation to explore multiple complementary scripture texts over time as we seek to walk in step with God's Spirit. Each resource also features musical meditations from over fifty years of music making at Calvin University.
Each of these resources:
- begins with a scripture text that orients us to God,
- continues with scripture text that either conveys God's call to each and every one of us or conveys a particular scriptural story of how God uniquely worked in the life a person or group of people to call them to new forms of service, and
- concludes with a scriptural benediction
Different biblical calling stories
Consider the many remarkably different calling stories we discover throughout the Bible:
- Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 12): “Go from your country and your people.”
- Abraham (Gen. 17): “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed.”
- Moses (Ex. 3–4): “I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people . . . out of Egypt.”
- Bezalel (Ex. 31): “I [the Lord] have filled him with divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft.”
- Joshua (Josh. 1): “Be strong and courageous.”
- Gideon (Judg. 6): “I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor.”
- Samson’s parents (Judg. 13): “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have . . . announced to us such things as these.”
- Hannah (1 Sam. 1): “Hannah wept and could not eat.”
- Samuel (1 Sam. 1 –4): “Here I am, for you called me.”
- Saul (1 Sam. 9): “My family is the humblest of all of the families of the tribe of Benjamin.”
- David (1 Sam. 16): “But do not look on his appearance; . . . the Lord looks on the heart.”
- Elijah (1 Kings 19): “The Lord was not in the wind, . . . the earthquake, . . . [or] the fire.”
- Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20): “We do not know what to do, but our eyes on you.”
- Esther (Esther 4:14): “ . . . for just such a time as this.”
- Isaiah (Isa. 6:5): “ . . . for I am a man of unclean lips.”
- Jonah (Jon. 1–4): “But Jonah set out to flee.”
- Jeremiah: (Jer. 1:4–19): “Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”
- Daniel (Dan. 1): “But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine.”
- Ezekiel (Ezek. 1–3): “O Mortal, . . . eat this scroll.”
- Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1): “When Zechariah saw [the angel], he was terrified.”
- Mary (Luke 1): “Let it be with me according to your word.”
- Mary Magdalene (John 20:1–18): “Go to my brothers and [tell] them . . .”
- The twelve disciples (John 1:35–46): “Follow me.”
- The seventy disciples (Luke 10): “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
- Peter (Luke 5:1–11; John 21: 15–19): “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
- A wealthy ruler (Luke 18:18–30): “Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor.”
- Paul, the “chief of sinners” (Acts 9; Rom. 1:1–6; Galatians; 1 Tim. 1; 2 Tim. 3:1–10, 4:5)
- Lydia (Acts 16:11–15): “The Lord opened her heart.”
What a wide range of circumstances! Sometimes the call is to leave home (Abraham and Sarah; the twelve disciples); sometimes it is to stay. Sometimes God stops people in their tracks (Paul), and sometimes God speaks through a still, small voice (Elijah). Sometimes the call comes after long periods of agonizing waiting (Hannah), sometimes in the middle of distress (Jehoshaphat), and sometimes with no expectation or preparation (Mary). Sometimes the call is resisted or questioned (Moses, Saul, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Peter, Paul), and sometimes it is accepted readily (Mary). Sometimes the call is real, but the end of the story is sad (Saul, David, Paul). Sometimes a call comes through a close associate or family member (Mordecai’s words to Esther, Elijah to Elisha, Samuel to Saul and David), sometimes through an angel (Mary), and sometimes through no ambassador at all (Samuel, Paul). Sometimes divine action happens deep within the human heart (Lydia) or in granting unusual gifts (Bezalel) without any narration of a dramatic call story. Sometimes the calling is dramatic and obvious, discerned in real time, and sometimes it is only clearly perceived in retrospect.
One of the gifts of seeing this rich diversity of narratives is this: we become more alert to many different ways in which God's Holy Spirit is active in the world today, bringing about goodness in the face of evil—sometimes in us, sometimes through us, sometimes in spite of us.
Thanks for returning to this page over time to see additional resources in this series.