A middle aged farmer went to Bible college to become a preacher. Unfortunately, he struggled with all of his classes and failed miserably in his preaching class. When the professor asked him why he had come to Bible college, he replied. “Well, one day I was out in the fields working and I saw PC written in the clouds. So I knew I was called to Preach Christ.” To which the Bible professor replied, “How do you know it wasn’t Plant Corn?”
Recently, Mark Fields shared a great insight with me that he learned from a Jesuit spiritual director:
“Believing that God told me _______ (fill in the blank) is the BEGINNING of the story, not the end of the story.”
In other words, it’s good to believe that we have received a revelation from God. However, at that point we need to do the hard work of praying through what the revelation might mean. Often this is called discernment.
“Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” I Thessalonians 5:20-22 (NIV)
Here are some important questions to spend time considering in prayer:
- WHAT CONFIRMATION DO YOU HAVE? More than once I have rushed out excited about what God spoke to me, without ever stopping to ask important questions. Does this word fit scripture? Does it fit what God has been saying to me in the past? What do wise individuals in my life have to say about this word? What does my wife (or close family) have to say about this word? Asking these questions doesn’t mean we automatically throw out what we believe we have heard, but praying through the answers to these questions will help us to hold on to what is good and avoid what isn’t good.
- WHAT IS THE BEST INTERPRETATION? Often we assume that the first thing that pops into our head is the appropriate interpretation. However, in prayer, we may discover that part of what we have grabbed onto is from God, but part of it is from our own culture or back ground, or from what other people expect of us, or even our own feelings and desires.
- HOW DOES GOD WANT ME TO RESPOND? It’s one thing to KNOW God has called you to do something. It’s another thing to know HOW he wants you to do it.
- WHAT IS GOD’S TIMING FOR THIS WORD? Similarly, it’s good to know WHAT God has called you to do, but it’s a totally different thing to know WHEN he is calling you to do it.
HOW ARE YOU PROCESSING THE THINGS THAT YOU HEAR FROM THE LORD?
WHO DO YOU LOOK TO FOR WISE COUNSEL TO HELP YOU PROCESS THE THINGS YOU HEAR FROM THE LORD?