We have been looking at knowing the will of God in decision making. Have you heard this before? “I prayed about it. And when I pray, I don’t talk to God, but I listen to him. And through prayer he told me to go.”
I struggle when people tell me these things because I it seems these folks believe they have received special revelation either audibly or via “the small still voice” method. Also, If God told them through prayer to go, then it’s a command for them to do so. This is akin to Abram leaving Ur for parts unknown except in his case it was a command and their case it is not. This idea however is very entrenched and hard to dislodge.
“Be still, and know that I am God;I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV) or Cease striving and know that I am God (NASB)
Couple of further comments on this as I think what I’m saying can be easily misunderstood. As a young Christian, I was very much on fire. I loved to go to our Bible study and loved to learn what really was in the Word.
Through my experience with leading the women’s Bible study and assisting the leader in the Women’s Ministry I thought it would be good to lead it someday. It’s actually why I enrolled in Bible school. Nevertheless, I do recall praying about these things in the form of asking for guidance and so forth. The prayers though were broad and had to do with other life decisions. Nevertheless, I knew early on that I’d like to lead the Women’s Ministry.
And so one day when I learned that our head of WM was moving back to Arizona I had the distinct impression in my head that said “you can do this.” I had not been thinking of it and it just kind of popped in. Clearly, it was a not so still voice from God encouraging me.
Or was it?
I used this very story when I talked to my pastor about taking over as head of WM as a type of verification of my “inward call.” My, how spiritual I was. At the time I honestly thought it was what the charismatics might call a “word of knowledge.”
Listen-it’s impossible to argue with a person’s personal experiences because they are subjective and not subject to any type of objective analysis.
Our friend Pastor Bruce Roeder tells a story about how he was chatting with a friend who had a heavy charismatic background. They got on this subject of hearing God’s voice in prayer. The guy told Bruce he had no way of discerning between his desires, God’s voice or the devil’s.
In other words, how do you know when your desires are responsible for your thoughts, whether they just “pop in,” or were floating around in the back of your skull all along? Being quiet in Scripture meditation or just being quiet in prayer does not mean you are going to get a message or thought confirmation right from God. That is real risky business especially if its night time and the pepperoni pizza you just ate is hard at work.
Yes, God communicates through His Word, but how? Can you and I go to Scripture and turn to page 1143 and find the answer to our dilemma? It simply does not work that way!
The way God speaks through His Word first of all must be through the Holy Spirit. You cannot separate the Word of God from the Holy Spirit. He inspired the writing of Scripture and does not trump it by revealing extra stuff. The Word of God is enough. You must be indwelt and filled by His Spirit and you must fill your heart with His Word.
Pray for a greater understanding of Scripture (Psa. 25:4) not for some extra revelation or special insight. You don’t need more than what God has provided. If more was needed, it would be in the Bible already!
I would suggest praying for more wisdom in application (Ja. 1:5).
In God’s providence He will bring into your life circumstances and the scriptural principles to think through as you study His Word in an effort to rightly divide it (2 Tim. 2:15).