God is our loving father, and it’s important we learn to relate to him that way. But he’s also our friend who invites us to partner with him in bringing about his kingdom here on the earth.
How we see God has a huge impact on our decision making.
A parent/child paradigm makes him the one who either gives us the cookie or keeps it away. In this view, he’s the one who decides and we’re the ones who ask (unless of course, we demand it or try to get it ourselves). It puts us in a passive position where we don’t really have to do any critical thinking, and our focus tends to be more on what we want than what God wants.
A friend/partner paradigm is a more grown up way of understanding prayer and decision making. In this view, God is still our Father with the final say, but we look at the decision together like friends – having dialogue and exchanging thoughts. We don’t see God as the good guy (he said “yes!”) or the bad guy (he said “no”!) but as the one who has our own and others’ best interests at heart. It puts us in an active posture where we can engage our minds and focus on what would bring glory to God.
God’s desire from the beginning has been for a friend/partner paradigm to permeate our thinking, relating, and decision making. God could have named all the animals himself, but he let Adam to do that. God could have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah without a second thought, but he let Abraham help him decide their fate. God could have talked to Moses from a distance, but he spoke with him face to face.
God wants to decide together, not because he doesn’t know, but because he wants us to learn how to know, too.
Imagine a decision you must make, a problem you have, or a need in your life. Got it? Now picture it as an object you set on a table. As you sit down to discuss it with God, where does he sit?
If you see him sitting across from you like an impersonal banker, hoping he approves your loan or lowers your mortgage, you’re probably operating out of a parent/child paradigm.
If you see him sitting down next to you, putting his hand on your shoulder and saying, “let’s take a look at this together”, you’re probably operating out of the friend/partner paradigm.
Again, how we understand God has a huge impact on how we approach and make decisions.
But there’s another element worth noting: there’s room for more than two at the table. We have fellow believers who can join us there, offering their wisdom, support, and perspective on the object in question. As the body of Christ, we have the mind of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:16). Our decisions are usually best made in community rather than isolation.
A few questions for reflection:
1. Are you placing your objects on the table?
2. If so, where do you imagine God sitting and why?
3. Are you inviting other disciples to join you at the table?