During freshman orientation at college, I remember my college president saying to us, “One way you will know whether or not we have succeeded at preparing you for life after college is if you leave here with more questions than answers.”
Several years after graduating college, I went back to school to get a master’s degree. Once again, during orientation, the main speaker focused on the importance of learning to ask more and better questions. At one point, he confidently asserted, “Your mission here should be to ask and answer questions at the boundaries of your understanding, and to surround yourself with others who have permission to ask you even more difficult, awkward, and challenging questions.”
A few years after earning my master’s degree, the thought occurred to me, “In the midst of all my question asking, perhaps I’ve been neglecting the most important questions of all: inspired questions.”
What are Inspired Questions?
Inspired questions are the ones already found in the inspired Word of God. The New Testament alone contains almost a thousand questions, and the Old Testament has several thousand more. To put this in perspective, you could explore a new question from Scripture every day for the next nine years or so and never see the exact same one.
Indeed, we find questions throughout the whole Bible. Satan first approached Eve with a question in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). When the angel of the Lord first appears in the Bible, he asks a question (Genesis 16:8). When the Witch of Endor conjures up Samuel from the dead, he immediately asks Saul questions (1 Samuel 28:15–16). When the angel Gabriel first appears in the Book of Daniel, he starts with a question (Daniel 8:13).
When we turn to the New Testament and examine the life of Jesus, we see the same emphasis. From His youth, Jesus spent time asking people questions (Luke 2:46). He engaged lawyers, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and other leaders with questions (Matthew 22:41). Moreover, asking questions was a primary teaching method of Jesus.
How Can We Use Them in Our Lives?
If you want to know what God wants you to know, pay attention to the kinds of questions His Word asks—the very questions the Holy Spirit inspired for every person on earth to read and consider. These questions provide us with a great springboard to dive into the deep issues that God has preserved in His Word. Indeed, the Bible often challenges us with questions that we might not otherwise think to ask ourselves. When we honestly respond to these questions, they help us identify where opportunities lie for our growth.
One way to unleash this potential in our lives is to ask ourselves an inspired question every day. Think about it. By allowing God’s Word to interrogate us daily, the questions will lead us into further conversation with God and others after we finish meditating on them. We will experience an intimate communion with God and others—fostering an atmosphere of trust, transparency, and belonging.
Not only that, but inspired questions help us identify the right problems and best answers to a great variety of issues, such as marriage, parenting, leadership, finances, employment, community, and self-image. They can help us assess our values, face our insecurities, fine-tune our decision-making processes, and reach beyond our limits with God’s help.
For instance, consider just a few inspired questions related to authority, meetings, planning, values, and wealth:
“By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do these things?” (Mark 11:28)
“What is it you have to report to me?” (Acts 23:19)
“Paul said to the commander, ‘Am I allowed to say something to you?’” (Acts 21:37)
“For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28)
“So if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine?” (Luke 16:11)
Such questions capture the experiences of real people who were struggling to apply their faith to their everyday life.
A New Tool for Young Adults
If asking more and better questions is at the heart of discovery, then asking inspired questions should be at the heart of our spiritual life. By God’s grace, questioning—deeply, genuinely, consistently—from the Holy Scriptures can help us identify and solve spiritual problems, come up with godly solutions, and pursue fresh opportunities by means of the Holy Spirit.
Granted, there are many more benefits to using inspired questions in our lives. But the bottom line for us here is this: there are no dumb inspired questions. So, don’t be afraid to ask and answer them this next year and beyond.
[Editor’s Note: This article draws from Brian’s new 365-day devotional, Inspired Questions: A Year’s Journey Through the New Testament (Christian Focus, 2019).]
BRIAN J. WRIGHT is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.) and Ridley College (Melbourne, Australia, Ph.D.). His pastoral and academic work have been featured on several Christian media networks, such as Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, and Power for Living. Brian serves full-time in pastoral ministry as a chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and also teaches for several universities and seminaries as an adjunct professor. He and his wife, Daniella, currently live in Florida with their four children.