“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” —John 16:13
How can you tell when God speaks to you? Do you ever wonder about people who confidently say, “Well, God told me to” do this or that? How do they know?
Without a doubt there is spiritual abuse among people who claim to hear God talking to them. But the Bible tells us clearly that Jesus’ gift to us as believers is the Spirit of God within us. And since the Spirit lives both in the mind of the Father and in our own minds, he can communicate and guide us with the very thoughts of God. The only problem is to find how we can know that the ideas we get are not from our own sinful nature or from the devil but from God. Here’s a true story that shows a way in which some missionaries have heard God speaking to their hearts.
Mary Ghee was a missionary to India in the 1950s. She worked as a teacher for almost two years in a village, but had little success bringing anyone to Christ. Then Dr. Scudder, a missionary doctor, visited the village for a week. During his visit many amazing things happened. This perplexed Mary’s Indian neighbors. “Why,” they asked her, “does your God work miracles when Dr. Scudder comes? You have been among us for nearly two years, and yet very few things have happened.” How would you respond?
Mary asked Dr. Scudder what he did. The doctor said that whenever he presented a problem to the Lord, he would ask God to “shut off” his sinful desires and the voice of the devil. Then he would wait, and he would write down the first thing that came to his mind. And if it was in line with Scripture, he concluded that God was speaking to him. So he went out and did it.
Mary was having a problem with her neighbor, so early one morning she tried this approach as she prayed. “God,” she prayed, “I am going to listen and write down the first thing you tell me to do to solve this problem with my neighbor.” She waited, with pencil and paper ready. Suddenly a thought came: Take her an egg. Mary thought about this. Her neighbor was a widow with ten children. How embarrassing it would be to take just one egg! So she wrinkled up the paper, threw it away, and went to do her teaching for the morning.
That noon, when she came home, Mary found that a chicken had found its way into her house and was resting on one of her chairs. Then, when she shooed it away, she saw that it had laid an egg on the chair. “All right, Lord,” Mary said. “I get the message.” She took the egg to her neighbor’s house and gave it to one of the woman’s little boys, who was playing outside.
The next morning the neighbor came to Mary’s house and asked, “Why did you give me that egg yesterday, Mary?” With embarrassment, Mary told her how she had been trying to listen to the Lord to solve the problem they were having. “Mary!” said her neighbor excitedly. “You know how poor I am. Yesterday I had given all my food to my children. In the morning I prayed, ‘God, if you would only give me one egg, I can make it through the day.’ God used you to bring me that egg!” From that point on, Mary and her neighbor stopped their fighting. God worked his miracle of reconciliation.
Don’t discount an answer you may be receiving from God because it seems not to make any sense. God answers us in many ways, and we can always search his Word, the Bible, for guidance when we think we hear God speaking to us. Just be aware that God may be speaking to you in surprising ways. Remember Joshua and the battle of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-27). Remember Gideon (Judges 6-7). Remember Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10).
As long as the answer you hear seems to help or show love to someone, do what God gently inclines your mind to do in caring for others. Some very imaginative things may happen. But don’t be afraid to follow your inclinations, for God may have some marvelous surprises in store for you.
Prayer Starters for Praying John 16:13
- Praise God, who guides us into all truth.
- Confess to the Lord any tendency you may have to move ahead on your own without seeking his guidance.
- Commit all your ways to the Lord
- Ask to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
–Adapted from Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood (Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God as the one who sets up leaders and deposes them (Dan. 2:21). Give thanks for your own opportunities to lead others. Confess any negligence or cowardice in leadership. Commit yourself to being a leader of integrity wherever God gives you influence. Ask God to grant you wisdom as you influence your children, friends, employees, and others.
Pray for “all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:2). Pray that leaders who uphold God’s principles will be brought to power throughout the world so that the gospel will be unhindered.
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