NOTE: Thank you to Dr. Ryan Denison for writing today’s Daily Article. He is the Denison Forum Senior Editor for Theology and has written more than four hundred articles for Denison Forum.
While the world appears to march steadily toward World War III with Russia declaring martial law in Ukraine, the European Union sanctioning Iran for providing the Kremlin with weapons, and China looking on in anticipation of what may come next, the most important news today comes out of Louisville, Kentucky.
There, in less than a week’s time, nine McDonald’s locations will begin selling Krispy Kreme donuts in their stores to see if the two paragons of American gastronomic ingenuity can form a viable partnership.
Should the test run prove to be a success, people across the country could be granted the same opportunity to experience the gooey goodness of glazed, chocolate, or raspberry-filled donuts alongside their Egg McMuffin or breakfast biscuit.
It is truly a wonderful time to be alive.
Relevant does not have to mean important
OK, so the news of a possible McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme partnership doesn’t actually compare in importance to the geopolitical upheaval that continues to threaten much of the world.
But the news doesn’t have to be important to be relevant. In fact, the stories that impact the most people are often the ones over which we have the least influence. As such, they can often feel like they are of little relevance to our daily lives.
After all, you and I can do little to change the actions of Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, or even our leaders closer to home. We can—and should—be praying for God to surround them with people who can influence those political figures to act in accordance with his will, but few will have the opportunity to gain such an audience. That’s why it’s often the stories that pique our interest, or those that happen where we live, can seem more relevant to our lives than the events we all know are of greater actual significance.
And that’s all right.
It’s just fine to be more interested in the Dallas Mavericks season opener—we don’t need to talk anymore about that—than the latest kamikaze drone strike. You shouldn’t feel guilty if you’d rather read about The Rock’s latest superhero film than about refugees seeking asylum. And if you find delicious donuts possibly coming to a McDonald’s near you more compelling than the latest poll numbers for next month’s election, then you won’t get any judgment from me.
As Christians, it is important to be aware of what’s going on in the world around us, but none of us are capable of caring deeply about every story the news deems important, even when they are justified in doing so. How we go about discerning where to draw that line, however, can be difficult.
Learning to pray as second nature
Toward the end of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he leaves his readers with a list of brief admonitions. While each is important, the instruction to “pray without ceasing” is perhaps the most memorable (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
The Apostle uses the phrase without ceasing in the original Greek three times in this letter, and in each instance it carries the idea of doing something as a fundamental part of one’s daily life (1:3 and 2:13).
Essentially, to pray without ceasing means be in such constant communication with the Lord that there is never a time when he does not have a direct line to our hearts and minds. But that doesn’t mean going through the day in some spiritual trance or even being engaged in active prayer. Rather, it speaks to a way of life in which seeking the Lord’s guidance becomes second nature and relevant to even the smaller decisions we make throughout the day.
Praying, even when doing so seems unnecessary or insignificant, is important for two main reasons, both of which pertain to the topic discussed above.
Let God be the one to choose when to speak
First, the more often you hear from God, the easier it gets to recognize his voice.
Now, the form in which the Lord chooses to speak can vary from person to person and situation to situation. That’s why learning to discern when it’s the Holy Spirit takes practice and is a deeply personal endeavor.
No one but God can teach you how to know when he’s the one speaking. So treat every circumstance and decision you encounter over the course of the day as an opportunity to practice hearing from him. Doing so will make it easier to discern his will in the moments when it’s most necessary.
Second, when you let God decide when he wants to speak rather than being the one to dictate when those conversations happen, he may surprise you.
The most profound and relevant insights from the Lord can sometimes come from the most seemingly mundane of sources. Skimming Facebook or Twitter, for example, can turn into a divine appointment when we begin by asking the Holy Spirit to point out anything he wants us to notice. Reading the news, or even just leaving it on in the background, can alert us to stories we may have otherwise overlooked when we remember to include God in the process.
So make it a point to engage with every part of today in ceaseless prayer. Let the Lord be the one to determine what stories you need to care about the most and which are all right to acknowledge without giving much thought. Then give him room to do the same with the other aspects of your life as well.
There are few skills more important to a strong relationship with the Lord than the ability to discern his voice. And whether it’s an armed conflict on the other side of the world, a friend whose Facebook post seems just a little bit off, or something as simple as donuts at McDonald’s, when he speaks, we need to listen.