Reflections on Acts 1:15-26

Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:24-26)

When I first encountered this passage as a kid in Sunday School, my first thought was, “So it’s okay to cast lots to know God’s will.” Many years later, after meeting many of life’s crossroads that have allowed me to experience the Spirit’s guidance in discerning “God’s will” for my life, my focus has shifted—from “they cast lots” in verse 26, to “they prayed” in verse 24 and “it is written” in verse 20.

The early believers, led by Peter, discerned God’s will by:

  1. Drawing from Scripture;
  2. Praying with humility; and then
  3. Acting in faith.

Without a vibrant relationship with God, our attention would be naturally focused on the most obvious (or “pro-active”?) part of the process—the casting of lots to settle a dilemma or ascertain God’s will. With increasing intimacy with Christ, we begin to pay more attention to the first two parts—Scripture and prayer—which serve to guide us toward the ultimate action or decision.

Instead of debating over the efficacy or spirituality of casting of lots, shouldn’t we strive towards submitting to Scripture lots and praying lots?

Are you now at a crossroads, faced with a crucial life decision? How are you discerning God’s direction in this issue? Soak yourself in God’s living word, spend time with Him in humble prayer, and then step forward in obedience.

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