What is the most difficult thing for you to do? If you are not sure you might try asking the same question in a different way. What is it that you really don’t want to ever have to do? What is it that you would much rather have someone else do, than do it yourself? This question is also answered by looking at how we spend our time. Those things which are really difficult for us to do tend to get put down our priority list even though they belong at the top of our priority list. When something is too difficult for me to do I tend to procrastinate attempting it and then treat my lower priorities as more urgent. My procrastinations are an indication of what I find most difficult. This year, I have had to come to terms with my propensity for avoiding the difficult. I needed to learn some things and for this to happen I have had to be taught.
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
God has designed for us to deal with difficulties. God has also designed for us to be taught how to deal with difficulties. During Old Testament times God ordained for leaders to teach. This included priests, elders, kings and parents. In our New Testament times, even with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – Whom Jesus said would teach, lead, and guide the believer – God has particularly gifted certain people with the primary responsibility of teaching others.
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers…
First Corinthians 12:28
If I was prone to digressing, I would at this point point out that not all those who want to teach, can teach well. I would also point out that just because someone is able to teach about a particular subject, does not mean that they can teach all subjects. But I have been taught not to digress so I will make neither of these points.
The prayer God delights to hear and to answer.
The prayer, “Teach me!” occurs most frequently in the Psalms. Generally the psalmist was seeking to learn the ways of God and to learn how to follow those ways. We might join with the psalmists and pray the same prayer for the same reasons so that we too can know what God’s will for us is and how we can fulfil it. But we might also learn from the psalmists and apply this principle more particularly. There are times in each of our lives where we do not really know what, or more precisely, how to do what needs to be done. My experience and observations inform me that God most usually answers such prayers by sending us a teacher. You should be careful when this happens because sometimes they do not look like a teacher. They might not even be present in the flesh. They might be within the pages of a book, or the screen of a computer, or the voice on a radio or podcast. They may also be right in front of us.
While God has ordained for pastors to teach His unfathomable Word to His people, which may have a lifetime duration, more commonly, the teachers whom God will answer our “Teach me!” prayers are present for a moment, a season, a time. They may teach us directly, or God may even use them inadvertently to teach us indirectly when their mistakes and failings become instructive warnings for us, or perhaps more positively, their lives become a silent example for us.
I think the most beautiful prayer that ascends into the Throne-Room of Heaven is a “Teach me!” prayer that has been reduced to a one word prayer: “Help!” (At least I hope it is one of the more beautiful prayers to God because I tend to pray that prayer a lot.) Some even pray this one word prayer expecting God to solve all their difficulties without realising that God is answering this prayer differently – as if it was the prayer He delights to answer: “Teach me Oh God.“
¶ Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path…
The most difficult things you will have to do will involve your interactions with others. Conflicts, disagreements, misunderstandings, confession, seeking forgiveness, rebuking, managing, and leading difficult people, are chief among the most difficult things you will ever do. Rather than despair; rather than procrastinate; rather than get frustrated; pray the prayer that God delights to hear and then watch carefully how He answers it.