Sometimes we will hear megachurch preachers say that God told them to do a particular thing or that God told them to tell the church something specific.
Is that really how God operates?
This is an area of my faith that has grown over the last five years. I would have said years ago that God didn’t ever do anything of the sort. I have changed my mind with some nuance.
First, I believe God still communicates to us directly today. A while back I needed to go talk to someone and I was praying over and over asking God to help the conversation be successful. It could have gone poorly very easily.
On my way to have the conversation I kept feeling a strong urge to do a very specific thing that seemed completely random. I resisted this urge a few times until finally I decided that I should “listen” to this prompting. I stopped my trek to see this person, did the thing that was impressed upon me and then went on my way to have the hard conversation. When I got there the person asked me if I had been doing the thing I stopped to do! I couldn’t believe it…and it turns out this person is an expert in what I was doing! Instead of our conversation starting off on a sensitive note, they were able to give me advice on what I was doing. It changed the whole conversation by putting them in the driver’s seat.
Second, there are times when very specific words or phrases come to mind that you just can’t escape that coincide with other people using those same words seemingly out of the blue. The other day someone I know had a strong urge that was like “check on this person…check on this person.” It wasn’t an audible voice…just a strong sense of those exact words. When they did…the person they were checking on said, “I can’t believe you checked on me…I was just praying to God that someone would check on me.”
I believe the Holy Spirit aligns these moments and conversations through divine communication. I don’t know any other way to explain it.
What does God’s communication feel like?
Here is the best way I know to explain it. In Galatians 5 and Romans 8 Paul contrasts the flesh vs the Holy Spirit. The flesh and the Spirit work toward opposite purposes. They are not compatible. Have you ever had a strong urge from your flesh to sin? An idea came to mind that was strong…desirable? You felt like you couldn’t escape it until you took action. It is like the desire is pressing down on you!
Do you know what I am talking about?
Holy Spirit promptings aren’t all the same but to me they often feel like what I just described only toward a righteous result. The desire comes to mind very strong and repeated. You feel like you just can’t escape it until you take action. Like temptation you can ignore it and get away from it…it isn’t anything impossible to escape but it is a pressing feeling toward a particular action or thing to say that does not come solely from yourself.
God is still communicating today. He is communicating all the time. The more I anticipate it the more I pick up on it.
Does God speak to preachers to tell them what the church is supposed to do?
Here is where I get skeptical. I am fine with God communicating with me about me but I have a harder time with God communicating with me about you! Because that is ripe for abuse…not impossible for God to do but very tempting for us to think it is what God did when in reality it was our flesh not the Spirit that is using God to leverage our agenda.