Do you hear voices in your head, are there times in your life when you believe that someone has said something to you, only to turn around and find no one there? “And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1st Kings 19:12) I would like to pose a question to you that I do not have an answer for, and though many in the past have broached this subject before me, much finer men than I, no one seems to be able in reality to answer sufficiently the question. How do you know for certain that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you?
The third person in the trinity is just as real as the Father and Son, co-equal are all three within each other, and the effects of His ministry are important to us as part of the whole of our walk with the Lord. “He shall teach you all things,” (John 14:26) “He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13) Inside of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit of God lives, we are in a sense of the word possessed, yet still in control of all of our faculties, we are not automatons, unable to decide our own direction in life. The simplest answer to our question is of course that we have been blessed when we come to salvation how to discern correctly the Word of God, for only by the power of the Holy Spirit can man understand the Scriptures. “But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1st Cor 2:14)
I had an opportunity today to witness to a young man who has been attending a large well known religious organizations church for the majority of his life, and it amazed me just how little he was able to understand even the most basic precepts of the Scriptures, he was unable to know them because they are are spiritually discerned. But for those of us who truly know Christ as Savior and serve Him as much as He calls us and enables us to, how are we to know exactly what we are to do and when.
Well of course, one of the ways is thru the Word of God, once we are saved the truths of His word become real to us, little by little we are not only able to understand them, but are taught how to obey them, both must go hand in hand. So in this scenario we are well prepared, as long as we know, we are to do, there are many “ifs” in the Word of God, and part of the responsibility, if you will, of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of these statements where we are shown that those who serve are expected to obey. There are times though that we must step out in faith, we must trust the Holy Spirit to guide us in places when we are not quite sure of the Lords will for our lives.
Many Christians like to relate this area of the action of their life with Christ in comparison to doors, the Lord will close one door only after He has opened another for us to pass thru. And how then are we to recognize these doors, this answer again is also simple, pray. When we are not sure of His will, when we cannot be positive, we should pray, we are searching for guidance here, something that is not specifically spoken of in the Scriptures, and for that the Lord has sent the Holy Spirit unto us. For instance, in the doors example, when you desire to move your family to another location, you would not just sell the house, quit your job, and hope to find both when you get to where you want to go, a man is responsible for his family, and that would not be wise, and so of course prayer is where we are to always start. The Lord never closes one door without opening another is the observation of these individuals, so the new home and place of employment would be prepared before this man would move across the country.
In James 4:13-15 we can see that this same principle is to be applied in our lives, we are not supposed to just head out and hope for the best, the will of the Lord is to be sought and then “we shall live and do this or that.” For this of course we must seek His will, and we do this by prayer again and always, the answer to that prayer is what some would call the prompting of the Holy Spirit, a known and definite path that becomes clear to us so that we do not unintentionally go against the will of God for us. This can be a very tricky move, if you will, for many who tend to follow this path are always in a sense in a waiting pattern, not moving until the Lords voice is clear to them. This has its good points and not so good points, for although we want to be sure, many times these individuals are sitting by their mailbox waiting for a letter from God as it were. The prompting of the Holy Spirt is in itself that still small voice that we are waiting for, and for many of these individuals they will not move until they hear that voice.
When we cannot discern from the Scriptures the path that we believe we are to take, when no doors are opened or closed, when we do not hear that still, small voice within us, and when the prompting of the Holy Spirit is undiscernible at the moment, then what are we to do, how are we to know for sure the way that we should turn. This is the reason that my statement at the start of this letter to you was one of the possibilities of an unanswerable question, at least for this unlearned writer. Our Lord always hears and answers the prayers of His children who are in a right relationship with Him, and the answers are always yes, no, or wait. It is up to us to discern these answers and it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that these answers will become clear to us. But sometimes a step of faith must be taken.
These can be the most difficult steps that any servant of Christ can ever take, for at the top of our minds is the knowledge that we never want to do anything that might dishonor His name. These steps of faith must be looked at just as that, steps that sometimes we are to take in faith, a knowledge in our minds and hearts that our desire is to serve, to always be pleasing in His sight, and then to take those steps looking for His guidance while we are taking them. Faith says I trust, trust says I love, and it is in this love that we are to move forward, the love that we know that He has for us and our desire to do only those things that are pleasing in His sight.
Far too many Christians sit on their hands waiting for God to put something in the mailbox for them, as it were, not even realizing that their prayers are not going to be answered in the first place. They have asked them to consume them upon their own lust, (James 4:3) and not for the result to be the glory of God, which should be our first reason always for any of our prayers and request to him. The reasons for our prayers should be the foremost thought in our minds, is God going to be glorified by this, can I serve him better if this occurs, will it be something that will be pleasing to him. Our whys are much more important than our wants when we are in prayer to the Lord.
I have only one answer for you in this matter of how we are to recognize the will of the Lord in our lives when it comes to the response to our prayers that He blesses us with. Listen. To each of us I believe he answers in ways that are easiest for us to hear Him, for some it may be doors closing while another opens, it may be a still, small voice, completely recognizable as that of our Lord, while yet for some it could be a letter in the mailbox, I have no doubt of this. He is able to do all that we ask of Him, we just need to be sure that what we ask will glorify Him and draw us closer in faith to Him.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” (Eph: 3:20-21) Pray, then listen, He hears you and he will answer in His time and in the way of His choosing, just listen.