Sometimes the solutions to our problems are elusive. We have tried everything we know. We have prayed every way we can think of. Still nothing changes. We just can’t figure it out. What are we supposed to do? I was contemplating that very issue when I came across a puzzle on social media one day. The picture claimed to have a simple solution, but no matter how I looked at it, I still couldn’t figure it out. When I clicked the link to see the trick, I realized that the answer was, in fact, simple. I probably would have never figured it out, though, because my mind just doesn’t think that way. Since that day, I realized that I now have a new way to pray. “Dear Lord, please show me how to move the match.”
The Trick: Move Only One Matchstick to Make a Square
Move only one match. Yeah, right. You could make a square if you moved three matches. But no matter which ONE match you pick up and move of the four on the left (physically or mentally speaking), you can’t make a square like the one on the right.
So many times in life, we know how things are “supposed to look” in our minds. We just don’t know how to get them there. Much like the problem with the matches, we sit mentally moving the pieces of our lives over and over – sometimes the same way again and again — expecting the solution to appear. We might get frustrated and bang the table (metaphorically speaking), so that the matches fall. We pick them up, dust them off, and keep moving them, apologizing for our outburst. Then we resolve once again to “figure it out.” We might even break the matches, throw them at the wall, and leave the room in a huff for a few minutes. Until we are right back at the table with a new set of four matches moving them the same ways again.
It’s a silly scenario when you put it like that. But so many of us do that very thing with our problems. We know the situation isn’t right and there must be a way to fix it, but we just can’t figure it out. We mentally move the pieces of our lives around and pray and pray and pray. But sometimes we might be praying for a solution that isn’t possible in the way we are thinking.
The Solution: Move the Left Match to the Left
See the square? It’s very tiny and located in the middle of the four matches. It’s not like the big square above on the right at all, but it’s still the solution to this problem using the pieces as they were given.
Sometimes the solutions to our problems don’t actually look like the ones we make up in our minds. The pieces just don’t work that way in the plan God has for us. When we pray asking God to take away pieces or add pieces or move them in ways that aren’t possible for the picture He wants to create, it just leaves us frustrated. Instead, we need to move past OUR idea of a solution and get HIS solution instead.
The Solution Is to Pray
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”Phillipians 4:6-7
We know the Bible tells us not to be anxious or “careful” about anything. Instead, we are to bring our petitions before the Lord with thanksgiving. In situations when we have a specific problem that needs a definite solution, we may not know what to do. Sometimes it’s appropriate to seek wise counsel, but most of the time, we just need to seek the Lord for His direction. We can pray, “Dear Lord, please show me how to move the match.” That just means asking God to show us a solution that we admit that we can’t think of on our own. It’s opening a conversation and asking for His advice and/or perspective.
Sometimes the solution might be in changing our actions or the way we pray. But sometimes it might just be in changing the way we see a given situation. He can even give us peace though nothing else changes. There is a quote by author Leslie Gould (the Amish Nanny) that goes, “Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes, God lets the storm rage and calms His child.” Even if the only thing that changes is our attitude, it can be enough to “solve” the problem we are having at the moment.
How Do You Do It?
When we want God to speak directly to us in our lives, where do we go? The Bible. It has everything we need for every situation. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” But the Bible is a pretty big Book, around 1,200 pages for the King James Version. Opening it and pointing with your eyes closed isn’t exactly a strategy for mature Christian living.
But even if we might not know where to find the perfect verse, parable, or proverb that sheds light on our particular problem at hand, there is One who does. The Bible says that God’s sheep hear His voice. We have the Holy Spirit of God inside us who can lead us into all truth. John 16:13 says, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” We pray, asking God to show us a solution — His solution — and the Holy Spirit can lead us to the part of the Bible that speaks directly into the situation.
How Does He Do It?
Sometimes the verses we need might show up in our morning or nightly Bible reading. Sometimes we might see them on a picture someone posts on social media or on a prayer line. But the most reliable way I have found to get the verses I need to ease my mind in a moment is by memorizing passages and being as familiar as possible with the Bible at large.
It’s like stocking your pantry with all the essentials. When you need salt, you have it. When you need sugar, it’s there. You have all the basic parts of the Bible in your heart so that all the Holy Spirit has to do is reach in and grab the one He needs. He can bring to your mind even just a part of a verse, parable, or story. Type that phrase into a search engine, and you’re on your way to hearing the exact biblical solution God has in mind. Even if the verse is to “wait” or “be still” or to “trust,” the Bible is powerful. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It will not return void.
A Quick Personal Example
A while back, I was having a terrible week. I had problems at work, problems at home, and just a general problem with my own attitude. I felt oppressed by the enemy and unsure how to get out of the funk. When I was talking to a friend, I said, “It feels like I’ve been knocked off my horse.” Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I begged the Lord to give me a verse. Please, God, show me a scripture to put things into perspective. How am I going to get out of this? (Show me how to move the match.)
The next day, I was praying my usual morning prayers which often include Psalm 91. When I got to one verse, it was like it JUMPED right “off the page.” Psalm 91:14 says, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.” I stopped in the middle of the next verse, stunned. I went back and said Psalm 91:14 again. In that moment, I realized that God was speaking to me. He saw me right where I was, and He had heard me talking to my friend. He let me know that when I fall down, He’s the One who picks me up. It was enough to rearrange my perspective from victim to victor. It reminded me that He is my strength and hope no matter what the circumstances or the enemies’ lies.
Where Does Our Help Come From?
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”Psalm 121:1-2
When we have problems, our finite minds can’t always comprehend all the possibilities. We certainly can’t understand the big picture that only God can see. Our solution is to seek the One who does. For those times when we need God to shed His light on our situation, we can reach for this new way to pray. “Dear Lord, please show me how to move the match.” He can help us find a verse to put our problems into perspective and find the solutions we need.
Like articles about prayer? Try 9 Reasons God Doesn’t Hear Our Prayers or A Testimony of Healing After a Prayer in Faith. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email in-box. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.