“A Word from the Lord”

No doubt most of us embrace the concept of praying about our needs “until we hear from God.”  But how does that happen?

My Sunday AM message was on “a Word from the Lord”:  not in this case Scripture, or even prophetic gifts in the congregation, but seeking to hear from God oneself — directly — in guidance, especially in times of decision and acute need.

I believe all Christians are meant to be Spirit-filled, and consequently to move in charismatic gifts of the Spirit.  Paul tells us to “be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:17), and elsewhere that the Spirit helps us because “we know not how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26-27); and John, further, says that if we ask anything according to God’s will, we will receive it (1 Jn 5:14).

The Lord does not always tell us what we would like to know, for we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  But there are times when the Spirit definitely wants to get through to us, to guide as well as comfort and instruct us, and we definitely need to know whatever it is He wants to tell us.  Otherwise, we might easily get off-track and make mistakes, even in lifetime decisions.

Hearing God speak is not an exact science.  One of the things that makes the Spirit’s voice distinct from our own thoughts is that it is not always the same, and often at an unexpected moment.  When He does speak, in my experience (as others in the congregation nodded in agreement), it is kind of like the ringing of a bell:  sudden, surprising, causing a start or a thrill, getting our full attention, then the message follows, often in a mere moment — a concise thought, or sometimes specific words.

Of course, the Spirit does not speak on demand, but as He wills.  If, however, there is any way for one to prompt receipt of a Word from the Lord, as Scripture and experience suggest, it is by expending the time and effort in “prayer and supplication,” worshipping the Lord, and most of all placing oneself — and one’s free will — on the altar in earnest and complete submission to His will.  In my experience, it is AFTER such a time, not necessarily DURING, that a Word from the Lord will come, if He so chooses, clear as a bell.

The sticking point, for all of us, unfortunately, is the submission.  We really want what we want.  Like everyone else, my will must be “pried out of my cold, dead hand,” as the saying goes.  Consequently, the earnest prayer and supplication must begin with “dying to self” and “mortifying the flesh.”

But that is another sermon.

© 2012 Paul A. Hughes

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