Intimacy with God Through Prayer

Christians often associate prayer with intimacy because it is interaction in close, personal communication. I believe that the desire to feel close to God is perhaps the strongest motivation driving women to invest themselves in the practice of hearing God extrabiblically “in the heart.” We want feelings of intimacy. There are other means of enjoying intimacy with God. For this post, I’d like to focus on prayer, specifically on one way to increase intimacy with God in prayer time.

Who’s talking how?

First we have to distinguish between hearing God and talking to God–a distinction rather essential to good conversation. It isn’t hard to find someone teaching that prayer is a two-way conversation. Ask God for what you want and then get quiet and listen. It is even suggested that you journal the thoughts He (supposedly) brings to mind. This method is actually a practice of mysticism. [1] Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are “deceitful more than all else.” If we truly believe Jeremiah then it should be obvious that listening in one’s heart means listening to someone you can’t trust.

Prayer is not two-way communication. Jesus never taught His disciples that in prayer they should listen to God. Nowhere does the Bible instruct people to listen to God in prayer. In prayer, people do the speaking. We have the privilege of telling God our most intimate thoughts and desires.

Where do we hear God? We hear where His words are–in the written, objective Word of God.

So how can we enjoy a two-way conversation? We listen to God in His Word and talk to Him in prayer.

Do you read the Bible and pray but it still seems disconnected? One reason may be that you are changing the subject. You and God are not talking about the same things.

Two-way communication

A few weeks ago, in the church nursery, I was playing pitch and catch with a toddler, sort of. I tossed the ball to the child. As long as she tossed the ball back my way, we were playing. When she held the ball or threw it in the opposite direction and ran after it herself, she was playing. We weren’t really playing together. I was pitching, she was off in her own game disconnected from me. Not until she again tossed the ball my way were we truly interacting. In the same way, good communication requires reciprocity.

A sense of intimacy is also significantly enhanced when there is awareness of a familial relationship. Interaction would have felt different had the child been my own. Christians are children of the God who, though holy and just, also tenderly urges them to call Him “Father” (Matt. 6:9). [2]

Typically, Christians spend prayer time with God like the toddler played ball with me. We let God pitch, but we don’t throw back. We read the Bible to hear from God. Then we pray about topics unrelated to what God told us. Like the toddler, we hold the ball and throw the conversation in a different direction. In essence, we ignore what God said, change the subject of the conversation, and talk about what we want. It disconnects communication. This kind of interaction among people is considered rude.

Intimacy in communication with anyone is built when there is reciprocity, when each party pitches the ball back to the other. With our Father, here is how that can be practiced. Listen first to your Father by reading and meditating on His Word. Then stay on topic. Talk to the Father first about what He said. There may be praise for an attribute revealed, giving of thanks for a promise or a blessing that the passage mentioned, requests for understanding the passage, or requests for wisdom on how to implement a command or principle in the passage. Only after discussing God’s Word with Him, then say or request what is on your agenda.

This is a reciprocal conversation with God. It can be carried on all day as you meditate on a verse and then talk to your Father about it. As you put His lovingly written Word into your memory, verses or truths from Scripture should come to mind to guide you. You can talk to Him about how they apply in the decisional moments of your  day.

This kind of interchange can also work in reverse. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask…” (John 15:7). If His words abide in your mind, you will know the will of your Father and can form your requests in accord with it. Say you have a particular decision to make or problem to solve. Ask God for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (Jas. 1:5). Asking for wisdom expresses trustful dependence on God, which delights Him.

Then, consult His wisdom. Where? The Word of God is certainly wisdom given “to all generously and without reproach.” The Word is “wisdom from above,” “a lamp to my feet” so you can know what to do (Jas. 3:17; Pr. 119:105). Trust the Holy Spirit to guide your study so that you find Scriptures that provide His solutions. Ask Him to illumine your mind to understand His Word and how it applies. During that process, you can be talking to the Father about His wisdom as it relates to your need. This is two-way communication for resolving a problem in your life.

Note: We tend to assume that we naturally interpret correctly. Sin in your life can affect your interpretation. Consider confessing sins to God before reading.

The next post in this series will say more about experiencing intimacy with God.

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(Thanks to The Navigators and to Abner Chou for certain concepts.) 

[1] “Mysticism is the search for unio mystica, personal union with God.” http://tottministries.org/mysticism-part-1/
Union is pursued by non-intellectual experiences apart from the Bible such as inner voices, impressions, visions, and feelings of ecstasy.

[2] God is the father of all people only in the sense that He created all. He is familially, intimately “Father” to only Christians because only they are His children by blood.

Resources:

Morning Devotions & Meeting with God: An Open Bible, An Open Hymnal and an Open Heart  |  Listen

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Living by the Word seems like cold, dry logic.

This post is part of a series on listening to God “in the heart” through impressions, nudges, or other subjective experiences believed to be the voice of God. My position, very simply put, is that in our day God speaks to us through propositional truths in his Word and only his Word. We can learn scientific truths and common sense from other sources, but God himself conveys his voice only through his Word. Each post has fielded one or two challenges to that proposition, such as:

But I have impressions…
So if my impression isn’t from God, then where is it from?
But isn’t Scripture a filter?
But the impression was to do something good.
God spoke, just less authoritatively.
But experiences persuade when Scripture doesn’t.

The next challenge continues the series. In protest against taking only the Bible as the voice of God we hear and in defense of taking subjective impressions as divine personal guidance in addition to God’s Word it says,

But, living by just the Word (and not subjective impressions) seems like cold, dry logic.

“Living by” means implementing. Implementation first requires the work, the cold, dry tedium(?), of study to learn what applies. It certainly is harder to study the Word than to just feel God and engage in an imaginary conversation. But, the logic being studied is the very words of God and for a purpose of changing your life. Study time can be filled with talking to about what God is saying in what you are studying. Time in the Word and prayer brings joy.

Implementation can be hard, especially when we don’t feel like it. It requires taking the dry logic of a command or principle and applying it with warm energy in thought, word, or deed. It certainly will be cold if it is done just to perform or in one’s own strength. Rather, living by the Word requires walking in the Spirit, in dependence upon His strength, praying “according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16). It is life transforming!

I want intimacy and I want to feel it. On a different note, I believe that underlying this view of God’s Word may be a sincere and good desire for a sense of intimacy. Why desire the feeling? There are at least two reasons, of which one or both may be the case. One, women tend to depend on feelings for guidance and security if not simply enjoyment. Two, the feeling is taken as validation, evidence of something. It validates oneness with God.

I believe that desire to feel intimate oneness with God is perhaps the most pressing motivation driving the common pursuit of listening to God “in the heart.” This person rightly wants a relationship with God that is not just an impersonal reading of print on a page and praying to the ceiling (which I don’t grant is an accurate view). The trouble is, she relies on feelings to verify reality. She trusts in her sense of intimacy to validate that she actually has intimacy. This is faith in feelings, not in the promises of God.

It is also mysticism, the pursuit of personal, unmediated union with God. [1] The person seeks oneness with God through non-rational experiences that seem to provide illumination beyond the propositional truth in the Bible. Mystics believe that spiritual truth cannot be found rationally or through conventional means, cannot be known through the intellect. It comes through inner voices and visions. Mystics use the word “ecstasy” to describe the oneness with God that happens when one gives himself fully to God. [2]

Many Christians who practice mysticism (but wouldn’t agree with that assessment) still believe that God speaks rationally in the Bible, but its propositional truth is not enough. Illumination of the really deep things of God, including His hidden will for what decision he wants the person to make, come through the illumination of impressions. Mental impressions are the voice of God.

Having a private source of revelation is very attractive. God meets you, personally, right in your core. God communicates to you things not found in the Bible, special directions just for you. [3] No Scripture teaches this kind of privatized spirituality.

Can we have intimacy if we don’t feel it? Of course! This happens all the time in loving familial relationships.

Feeling warmth and joy in an intimate fellowship with God is right and good. We should want and enjoy it. However, there is a difference between God’s nearness to us and our sensation of that nearness.

Intimacy may be defined as close familiarity, close knowledge. Galatians 4:7 and 9 say that a Christian is “…no longer a slave, but a son” and “you have come to know God” and “be known by God.” Sonship, knowing and being known are statements of intimate relationship. Christians are one with God as a matter of position. They have been placed into union with Christ. You can’t get closer than that regardless of whether you sense it.

Are feelings part of the Christian life? Yes! The psalms are loaded with expressions of the whole range of emotions in a believer’s walk with God–gladness, anger, joy, sorrow, fear, loneliness, peacefulness, etc. God even commands joy: “Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). But affectionate feelings are a result of truth and obedience, not guides to truth, signs of divine guidance, proofs of right relationship, or a measure of intimacy. One example is this promise of intimacy with Jesus:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21).

It doesn’t say, “He who feels warm affection toward Me, he it is who loves Me.” Rather, obedience to the “dry logic” of commandments is evidence of love and oneness. Jesus discloses himself in the commandments, not in impressions, so when we believe and obey we are showing him our love because we’re showing that we believe him.

We don’t always feel like obeying. If we think feelings are necessary for obedience then we are dependent upon feelings, not the Lord. When we value pleasing God by obedience to the Word more than, or in place of, feelings of connection with God, we are pursuing God as He directs rather than pursuing feelings.

Good feelings often don’t precede obedience; they follow it. When we value pleasing God by obedience to the Word, when we value His glory no matter our feelings, and then we obey, we achieve the goal of pleasing Him and that results in joy and a sense of closeness to Him. Then the feeling of intimacy is delightful, but it wasn’t the goal for the obedience. Loving Him was.

What is God’s assessment of his written Word? Unlike all other books the Bible is more than just print on a page. It is not cold and dry but “living and active,” at least, that’s God’s analysis in Hebrew 4:12. He also describes it as:

  • “piercing,”
  • sharper than a sword,
  • “wonderful,”
  • where “wonderful things” are,
  • a “lamp,”
  • a “path” of delight,
  • wisdom,
  • giving “understanding,”
  • “pure milk,”
  • “truth” that sets free,
  • truth going out from God’s mouth “accomplishing what I desire,”
  • “like fire” and “like a hammer which shatters a rock,”
  • “more desirable than gold” and “sweeter…than honey,”
  • “the joy of my heart” to be loved “exceedingly” [4]

Based on this small sample of God’s assessment, I can’t quite hear him calling his Word “cold, dry logic.”

Can we have two-way intimate communication with God? Living by the Word of God is not dry, but is walking with Jesus the Word incarnate. The Holy Spirit speaks to the believer through his Word by illuminating the meaning of it and giving the child of God faith to believe it. When the Word speaks, God speaks. That means that you and I can hear from God every time we read his Word or rehearse it in memorization, meditation, and song. That can be many times a day!

In prayer, we talk to God. As we listen to what God says through Scripture and then talk to him in prayer, we have an ongoing, personal, intimate conversation with God. Praying his own Word in praise, thanks, and requests exercises close communion. In a careful study of his Word regarding questions we have we will “hear” His counsel for decisions, that is to say, read his own words on the matter. If we want to hear audibly we can read them aloud. With that counsel we can by prayer consider and conform our will to his. Obedient application of his commands deepens the relationship. In all, we by faith rely on the Holy Spirit to be guiding our understanding and enabling our obedience. Our hearts can overflow with joy and delight in relationship with him through the Word of God, prayer, and obedient living.

The Bible holds far more words of God than any man could know and master in a lifetime. We should be joyfully content with the abundant treasure trove God has given in the written Word.

The next post in this series will provide a plan for experiencing intimacy with God in prayer.

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[1] “Mysticism is the search for unio mystica, personal union with God.” Gary Gilley, “Mysticism, a Way of the Past, the Wave of the Future,” (January 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 1), Posted under “Mysticism – Part 1,” 14 January 2009, http://tottministries.org/mysticism-part-1/

[2] Ibid.

[3] Gary Gilley, “Contemplative Prayer, the Heart of Mysticism,” (March 2005 – Volume 11, Issue 3), Posted under  “Mysticism – Part 3,” 14 January 2009, http://tottministries.org/mysticism-part-3/

[4] (Ps. 119:105, 18, 35, 129, 130; Proverbs; Is. 55:11; Jer. 23:29; 1 Pet. 2:2; John 8:31-32; Ps. 19:10; 119:111).

Resources:

 

The Living and Active Word of God
Why Do We Say, ‘God Told Me’?
http://tottministries.org/contemplative-prayer/ (contemplative prayer and spiritual disciplines)

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Top Ten Posts for 2017

Please accept my thanks for reading this blog in 2017. I hope that the posts have been encouraging and edifying to you. I added two links to the blogroll that I thought might provide more resources for you: bc4women (https://bc4women.org/blog-2/) and my pastor’s blog (Vassal of the King). Both offer good stuff!

I’d like to thank D.K. who edited some of my posts, making some needed improvements. Below are the top ten posts that you read in 2017, listed from least to most read.

10. Rejoice in the Lord – How to Put On Joy. I’m glad to see this made the top ten again this year because God desires that His children experience great joy. Joy demonstrates how delightful the glory of Christ is and how delightful it is to know Christ intimately. Christians want to rejoice. But how do we go about it?

9. An Unloved Woman  What does Proverbs 30 tells us about a woman who has experienced significant rejection? What is likely to happen if she marries? Is there hope for change?

8. God Still Speaks – Discussion After Josiah’s Fire. What began as a book review turned into a series, answering rebuttals to the review. This is the first of the series, a good place to start for an introduction.

7. They Say He Has No Conscience. This post examines the popular idea that some people lack a conscience. We hear of some extreme evil and that the perpetrator carries no remorse for what he has done. From our perspective, lack of remorse seems unreasonable. Surely, normal people would feel remorse for such acts. Since the perpetrator does not, he must be mentally ill or not even have a conscience. But is this what the Bible teaches? This post goes best read with its partner post, How can they be so remorseless?.

6. No Trust, No Love. Really? It is a popular notion that a person cannot love another unless they first trust him or her. Trust is, in certain relationships, extremely important and enhances love, but trust is false to believe that you must trust before you can love another. This post is one of a series. The related posts will set it in a broader context.

5. Josiah’s Fire. This is a book review that, due to pushback, led to a series on hearing from God subjectively. Serving up the attraction of warm, fuzzy sentiments and titillating claims that a little autistic boy visited heaven, talked with the dead, and heard from God frequently, this book promotes trusting one’s subjective experiences and undermines the doctrines of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture and the person and work of Christ.

4. Marriage: Procreation is Important, But Not Primary This is one of a series on God’s purposes for marriage.

3. Parenting the Difficult Child  This page introduces my book and gives some background on it that is not in the book. The book is being used by parents whose children are often disobedient and oppositional. Additionally, it appeals to adoptive parents and parents whose children behave according to the psychological label Reactive Attachment Disorder. While psychologists have helpfully categorized behaviors under a label, their views and solutions are not biblical. Part of this book contrasts this man-made view with the Word of God and, in doing so, sets the Christian moving into biblical thinking about other psychology-constructed models.

2. A Purpose for Marriage: Oneness

1. The Secondary Primary Purpose of Marriage: Companionship  Everyone who marries does so for a reason, often not realizing that God has purposes for marriage far more important than ours. Our purposes, if they are not in agreement with God’s, lead to problems because we are basically selfish. Knowing God’s purpose helps us to set daily interactions with our spouses into an eternal context. Living for God’s purposes rather than our own transforms how we view our communication, decision-making, sex, child-rearing, finances, socializing, and relational conflicts. Taking God’s view for our own will change our behaviors, which usually results in a more satisfying relationship with one’s spouse. The pleasure and glory of God is more important that our satisfaction, so I recommend: The Ultimate Purpose of Marriage: Image-Bearing.

I wish you a 2018 full of God’s grace and peace!

Posted in Top Ten

But experiences persuade when Scripture doesn’t.

Mormon missionaries once instructed me to pray until I felt a “burning in the bosom” and then I would know God wanted me to be a Mormon. What were they doing? They were tempting me to listen to my feelings instead of standing firm on the written Word of God. Having a deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9) and aware of the power of meditation techniques, I’m sure I could have “prayed” myself into a feeling that I could interpret according to their prediction.

Many Christian women today believe in, and even manage their lives by what those Mormons recommended, listening to feelings. They are deeply invested in the practice as is evident by the challenges this series is addressing (beginning here). They interpret sensations and experiences to create messages. Assigning a self-determined meaning to a sensation, they claim that the meaning is a personal word from God. This is mysticism, not Christianity. It functionally denies the sufficiency of Scripture. Furthermore, it by-passes the mind:

“The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, or other purely subjective means.” (John MacArthur as quoted in “The Holy Spirit’s Witness,” by Gary Gilley)

I believe that two of the strongest attractions to mystically hearing God are mistaken beliefs that the Holy Spirit should be felt and that intimacy with God requires feeling that intimacy. The assumption is, if I don’t feel intimacy then I must not have it.

It is good to desire intimacy with God and to feel close to Him. (Soon in this series I plan to discuss experiencing intimacy with God.) But guidance from the Holy Spirit is not through feelings. The Holy Spirit uses the objective Word of God to change minds and desires. One objection is,

But too many Christians rely on head knowledge. Then they use logic to reason away convicting verses to avoid changing.

Rationalizing in order to disobey Scripture is called sin. It needs to be prayerfully and lovingly confronted with the objective Word of God with an appeal for repentance and reconciliation.

Note that this argument admits what MacArthur and Gilley assert in the quote above, that people who trust in feelings for “divine” guidance functionally believe by-passing the mind is spiritual and even superior to reliance on Scripture. I believe that many invested in this practice do not perceive themselves as by-passing the mind, but rather as adding heightened awareness to the mind because they have special knowledge beyond Scripture.

But sometimes people don’t listen to the Word of God, so God will use experiences (dreams, visions, impressions, out-of-body experiences) to get their attention.

Is Hebrews 4:12 wrong? Referring to the risk of falling into disobedience, it says,

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Dare we propose that impressions can accomplish what Scripture (supposedly) cannot? This argument surely holds a low view of Scripture because it implies that experiences are more persuasive than the words of God Himself, who brought all creation into being by merely His words (Gen. 1-2).

They also expose the reality of which I warned in this post, that even when someone sincerely claims to value the Word of God, the practice of hearing God outside of Scripture supplants that Word, else there would be no thought that Scripture can fail.

Does God never use experiences to influence the disobedient Christian? There is a sense in which God will bring experience to bear upon a disobedient Christian, but it isn’t in warm fuzzies and the privilege of special, privatized revelatory impressions. Hebrews 12:3-11 says that disobedient believers experience discipline. Some discipline, such as guilt feelings, is subjective. (Note that this is not a revelatory message; one’s own conscience convicts.) Others are very unpleasant objective consequences. David’s sin produced insomnia and physical exhaustion (Ps. 6:6-7; 32:3-4). Some Corinthians experienced sickness and death because they didn’t listen to the Word (1 Cor 11:27-32). Ananias and Sapphira had quite an experience; they were truly slain by the Spirit (Acts 5).

Subjective revelations are NOT God’s back-up plan for the disobedient. In Luke 16:19-31 is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. On earth, the rich man ignored the suffering Lazarus. After death, Lazarus lived in joy with Abraham while the rich man suffered in hell. The rich man told Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, insisting that a resurrection would impress his brothers enough to change them. The answer was, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:19-31). “Moses and the Prophets” is another way of saying, the Word of God. Jesus was teaching that it is not experiences, not even miraculous experiences, that have the power to change the heart. It is the Word of God that is powerful to change hearts. Jesus constantly taught Scripture. God, who can easily turn the heart of a despot “wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1), surely has no need to avoid the mind (logic) and play on emotions to manipulate people into obedience.

Even the apostles were careful about trusting their experiences. Peter said that his experience of the Transfiguration (and who has had a more impressive, authenticating experience?) even his experience of the Transfiguration was less trustworthy than the “more sure Word” of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:19-21). If Peter was guarded about his interpretations of his experiences, how much more should all people today be, who didn’t literally walk with Christ and are not attested, specially-gifted apostles!

People today deserve no special treatment in the form of amazing experiences, warm feelings, or special communications. We have the treasure of the mighty Word of God. If we won’t listen to the Word far less do we need a divinely-sourced sensation, lest we make much of the sensation rather than the Word.

This series continues in Living by the Word seems like cold, dry logic.

 

 

Resources

The Holy Spirit’s Witness, by Gary Gilley, in Think on These Things, at Southern View Chapel
A More Sure Word of Prophecy (One of a series on hearing from God and discerning the will of God)
What is the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture? What does it mean that the Bible is sufficient?

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Thanksgiving for Deliverance

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary. (Ps 107:1-2)

Those who have been delivered from sin’s penalty, oh how many reasons we have to give thanks to the Lord! Hebrews 2:14-15 says that Jesus “likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” The redeemed have been saved from the ultimate adversary and from the fear of death, a tool God allows him to wield. For the redeemed, death does not lead to eternal torment but to eternal life. For the Lord is good and His kind and merciful love is everlasting. Thanks be to the Lord!

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God spoke, just less authoritatively.

I used to believe that I could sense God talking to me. I could hear privately from God in my heart. While I no longer subscribe to that belief, I can still enjoy fellowship with friends who do because we agree on the central tenets of Christianity, such as the identity of Christ and the Trinity, and the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Still, I have strong concerns about this whole idea of hearing from God extra-biblically. In today’s practice, many use the term “hearing” God in reference to inaudible impressions and thoughts. Taking a challenge and answer approach, this series (beginning here) has so far dealt with the sufficiency of Scripture. Now we’ll shift the view a bit. Hearing extra-biblically also bears on the issue of authority.

How is authority an aspect? What a person hears privately from God is inherently and necessarily authoritative to all people, not just that individual. How can that be? If what the person hears is divine in origin, then we are all obligated to it in at least one respect–belief.

A popular protest goes something like, “I believe God spoke to [insert name] but I don’t consider his/her message or words to be as authoritative as Scripture.” In other words, God’s words given privately to this person have some authority, but not as much as what God’s words given elsewhere. The difference is in degree of authority, not in source of authority.

That cake won’t bake. Isn’t the message from God Himself? Is God less of an authority than God?

Consider, is there any verse in the Bible that is less authoritative than any others? Divine words carry divine authority, period. In the Bible, God’s words spoken through human speech were just as authoritative as His words in written form. The red letters aren’t more authoritative than the black. So also, words from God given privately to individuals today, being from God, cannot be less authoritative than His words in written form given in the Bible. The source is the same, and that source is divine.

People inherently know this. That is one reason they make the claim, “God told me…” Who dare argue? It is why people do what others tell them when they say, “God told me that you should…”

Recall the freeze-frame I used in “But isn’t Scripture a filter?” Someone says to you, “The Lord told me I need to confess something to you.” Assuming that you agree that what she is about to say came from God, the speaker continues talking. But do you accept the claim? It affects how you receive the rest of what she says because, in essence, she has brought to bear on you authorization direct from God. Dare you challenge it? Are you not obligated to cooperate with “God’s” agenda for the conversation?

As R.C. Sproul says,

“One of the most powerful devices of manipulation we’ve ever designed is to claim that we have experienced the Spirit’s approval of our actions. How can anyone dare contradict us if we claim divine authority for what we want to do? The result is that we end up silencing any questions about our behavior.” (“The Role of Experience,” TableTalk, August 2017, p. 5)

Inherent awareness of the power of a claim to divine authority is at work in women who say things like these actual quotes: “God prompted me to…” “I was impressed [by God] to…” “God woke me last night to pray for my husband’s workmate.” “This morning after reading [this devotional] I was nudged to share it with you.” I think that many women who use these feeling-based catch phrases are unaware of how manipulative it is and are sincerely seeking to be sensitive to God, which is commendable. But, do you think it would sit well with any of them if someone answered, “How do you know that impression came from God rather than just something on your mind?” Or, “How do you know this isn’t just a feeling you had that prompted a thought”? Or, “I don’t believe that you can know it was God who woke you to pray.” No, those women expect their hearers to believe, to accept, and even to affirm their claims and accept that they, therefore, have God’s backing to whatever action was required.

And, if God really spoke, they are right. We must believe. Why? Because we must believe whatever God says no matter to whom He says it. If God told Samuel a message for Eli then we must believe Samuel’s message and that God gave it even if no action is required by us (1 Samuel 3). If your friend heard from God, you must believe her.

So, do you? Do you believe that your friend’s feelings are a reliable source of divine revelation?

This series continues in But experiences persuade when Scripture doesn’t.

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