What are they? And how can we separate them from our feelings? Have you ever felt the need to pray for no particular reason? Or felt this strong impression to call a person you haven’t spoken with for a while? Or felt the need to be a blessing to someone even though they haven’t expressed to you a need? Have you ever given a word of knowledge about a situation you knew nothing about? Or had a dream that played out like deja vu? None of these things are a premonition. They’re most likely divine promptings. How did you respond? Did you brush it aside or did you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit? What was the result?
I know you can’t tell me but I’m sure you’re either nodding if you’ve experienced His promptings, or you’re wondering if you’ve had missed opportunities to obey them. Either way God isn’t mad at you if you didn’t know, and He’s pleased if you heeded. Discerning what’s feelings, premonition or promptings takes knowing through intimacy how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. Even the most mature among us miss it sometimes. I have-and when I do it saddens me. Most times it’s because I’m always mistaking what I’m feeling for having done something wrong. That’s the moment when I should’ve been praying in the Holy Spirit. Thank Jesus it hasn’t resulted in any major incidents. But I always end up saying, “that's why I felt that way.” It was preparation for what I was about to hear, but praying in the Spirit would’ve brought clarity and peace to my heart. I’ve also learned that the Holy Spirit intercedes through our spirit on behalf of others or even for us.
There have been other times while in prayer that I’ve been prompted to go give money to someone. Or call someone to see if they needed food. Or call to pray with someone. Or I’ve had a dream about a particular situation and when I’ve shared it the person said “only my husband and I knew that.” Or the Lord will show me an individual’s face and tell me to give them money only to find out they had no groceries to feed their kids. Or He prompts me to purchase something for someone. These incidents aren’t coincidences. I had no prior knowledge about any of the things happening in these individual’s lives. And I wasn’t always in prayer. These promptings can take place anywhere at any time. Sometimes it’s only to visit and have a conversation, or simply to listen and pray. There’s no methodology for how He’ll use us. We just need to be available and willing.
Here are some examples of people who experienced the promptings of the Lord and their responses.
A magazine article in life magazine in 1958 caused a man named David Wilkerson, prompted by the Holy Spirit to move from rural Pennsylvania to New York City and start a ministry to gangs called Teen Challenge. What have you started because of a prompting that has changed the trajectory of your life?
In Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2 we read that after Nehemiah had heard distressing news concerning the city of his forefathers the Lord prompted him to go see about it and to rebuild and repair what had been damaged or destroyed. He said something in chapter 2 that stood out to me. Of course your assignment is to read Nehemiah 😊 very fascinating and encouraging as well.
“I went to Jerusalem and was there for three days. During the night I went out with a few men without telling anyone what my God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. The only animal I had was the one I was riding.”
Nehemiah 2:11-12 GW
There are times when God speaks or prompts us to do something, that it’s best that we don’t divulge the information, not even with our closest friends. Some things are best kept in the prayer closet so the Father who sees in secret will reveal it in His time.
“An angel from the Lord said to Philip, “Get up, and take the desert road that goes south from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So Philip went. An Ethiopian man who had come to Jerusalem to worship was on his way home. The man was a eunuch, a high-ranking official in charge of all the treasures of Queen Candace of Ethiopia. As the official rode along in his carriage, he was reading the prophet Isaiah out loud. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go to that carriage, and stay close to it.” Philip ran to the carriage and could hear the official reading the prophet Isaiah out loud. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” The official answered, “How can I understand unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to sit with him in his carriage.” Acts 8:26-31 GW
Philip had no idea why He was being prompted by the Lord to take that particular road. Or why he had to draw near to that particular carriage. But God had seen a seeker of Truth and sent Philip to help him understand what he was reading. Has the Lord ever prompted you in similar ways? I remember walking by a young man sitting on the floor in front of the Section 8 office in my building. I told him good morning and kept walking. The Holy Spirit said “go back and tell him I love him.“ That’s it. Not minister to him, not give him a tract, just tell him that I love him. You would’ve thought he won the lottery when I shared what the Lord said. A year later I was invited to a church meeting. There was the young man full of the joy of the Lord. I have no idea what that word meant to him, but Jesus knew.
“A disciple named Ananias lived in the city of Damascus. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias!” Ananias answered, “Yes, Lord.” The Lord told him, “Get up! Go to Judas’ house on Straight Street, and ask for a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus. He’s praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
Acts 9:10-12 GW
If you read this entire account you will learn that this was no ordinary assignment. Saul was a known killer of Christians. Yet here was God giving both men a vision of them encountering each other. This was the turning point for Saul and a time of rest for the Christians. The promptings won’t always be peaches and cream, but God will always have our backs as we walk in obedience to His leading.
“One day, about three in the afternoon, he had a vision. He clearly saw an angel from God come to him and say, “Cornelius!” He stared at the angel and was terrified. Cornelius asked the angel, “What do you want, sir?” The angel answered him, “God is aware of your prayers and your gifts to the poor, and he has remembered you. Send messengers now to the city of Joppa, and summon a man whose name is Simon Peter. He is a guest of Simon, a leatherworker, whose house is by the sea.” Around noon the next day, while Cornelius’ men were on their way and coming close to Joppa, Peter went on the roof to pray. While Peter was puzzled by the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house and went to the gate. They asked if Simon Peter was staying there. Peter was still thinking about the vision when the Spirit said to him, “Three men are looking for you. Get up, and go downstairs. Don’t hesitate to go with these men. I have sent them.”
Acts 10:3-6, 9, 17-20 GW
This is a very familiar story to most of you, but if it’s not, please by all means go read it. It's a blessing. Why? Because Cornelius represents all us Gentiles being welcomed into God’s family. What’s fascinating is that the Lord chose to use a staunch Jew to preach the Good News to them. What was the Lord doing through this prompting? Breaking racial barriers. Are all your friends the same race? Do you only attend a church of your particular persuasion? Get ready, the Lord is about to shake you up. The kingdom of God is a very diverse place. It’s time to change stinking mindsets and love like Jesus loves.
“During the night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia. The man urged Paul, “Come to Macedonia to help us.” As soon as Paul had seen the vision, we immediately looked for a way to go to Macedonia. We concluded that God had called us to tell the people of Macedonia about the Good News.”
Acts 16:9-10 GW
If you read the verses before the ones I’ve shared, You’ll see that The Lord had prevented them from going to other regions. Sometimes a good thing can have bad timing. The important thing is that we trust the Holy Spirit and don’t forge ahead. Paul may not have understood the reason why, but He knew the voice of God. Yet as soon as those doors closed the Lord gave him a vision to go preach someplace else. Timing is everything with God. Obedience to His promptings will avoid the shipwreck of our lives, the life of others and your ministry.
Throughout the Old Testament we’ll read “and the Word of the Lord came to….saying.” Those are promptings. Sometimes the Word was good, sometimes they were downright scary. But off they went in obedience to the voice. Sometimes not even knowing what they’d encounter in their willingness to be used in that way. Sometimes it was a vision while in prayer, other times it was when they showed up. When God prompted Elijah to go to Zarephath to a widow woman in a famine, He left out one important detail: She was down to her last meal. In both their obedience they were sustained. 1 Kings 17
The Lord will never lead us into temptation or evil. He will never set us up. We can rest assured that whatever He asks, prompts, gives in a dream or visions, He has us and others on His mind. And always for good. How will you know if it’s Him and not that spicy meal. His sheep know His voice. It’s always off your radar. He’ll prompt you to give above what you have already done. Now that’s not Satan. You’ll never have to question that one. He’ll tell you exactly how much to give, and He’ll never ask for more than you have. You’ll discern His voice in every situation If you’re in fellowship with Him.
I was sitting behind someone in church one day and He said “give him one hundred dollars.” Another time I was sitting in another church and He said “give her five hundred dollars.” Another time I was in prayer and He said “go around to so and so, give them a thousand dollars.” Another time He said “go to stop and shop and get a gift card for a hundred dollars.” I don’t ask questions because He’s never asked for more than I have. Still there are times when I’ve wanted to give and He said no. We live in an economic world so that’s how He uses us to be a blessing. I get the same responses each time: How did you know? I didn’t. He did.
One morning I said to the Lord while getting ready for church, “You know I just love single moms.” It was a lead in or set up. I don't know which. Immediately I saw the face of a young woman at church. We’ve never spoken but I’ve seen her with two small kids. The day before I had sold Sheri’s Clarinet and made a few dollars that I thought I needed. He thought differently. I had taken my tithes off. But With the face came the prompting to give her a hundred dollars. You’d think she’d won the lottery. She started bawling and saying they had come to church with no breakfast. That she’d brought her children so they’d have a snack in Sunday school. God met her need that morning. I pray you don’t read this as me bragging on myself, because that is not my intention at all! I’m bragging on my God who loves us so much that He uses our hands to be His hands to bless others. The Lord used me in the area of finances to deliver me from a poverty mentality. I have a different mindset towards money today. I’ve learned it’s more blessed to give than receive. Acts 20:35 I’m sure you have similar experiences. If you are His child and in fellowship with Him, You’re all He’s got to be His face, hands and heart.
I pray that you’re willing to be used by the Lord any way He chooses. Maybe you’re a mechanic, a landscaper, a cook, an electrician, a computer genius, maybe you have a few extra dollars. He’s looking for willing hearts. Hearts that sense what He’s wanting to do. Open hands live under an open heaven. Don’t ignore His promptings, you’re all He has. He’ll help you discern what’s of Him and what’s a feeling. Jesus said the Father is glorified in the Son when we bear much fruit. We bear fruit through obedience to His promptings and because it wasn’t our idea, He gets all the glory.
Give, and it shall be given to you in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. Not falling from the sky. But by men pouring into our bosoms. And they will use the same measure we used in giving-Ouch.
So we’d better step it up. So we can move into the overflow of more than enough. Are you being prompted today?
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
October 26, 2021