This morning, at 5:12am, after a ride on my stationary bike, I was taking a walk through my neighborhood. As often as I do this, I look up to the heavens and speak to God. This morning started out as any regular ol’ morning. There was no reason to think I was going to meet God differently than before. No special prompting to prayer. No sudden wake up in the middle of the night. Just a routine day . . . so I thought.

As I walked up the final hill before coming in view of my house, continuing to pray, something odd happened. I ran through my normal list of things to bring before God. Nothing special happened then. However, I began to pray about something that has been heavy on my heart recently. Without getting into specifics, it was a prayer for a certain person to change. Now, in truth, I do not know whether this person really needs to change. In other words, I am not sure of the Lord’s will with regard to this particular issue. My prayer was basically this: “Lord, please change this person if they are making the wrong decisions.” You see, I happen to believe more than not that this person’s decisions and chosen life path are wrong and potentially destructive on many levels. But it is one of those things. Yes, it could be wrong and destructive, but it could also be an incredible blessing sought out by one who was just trusting the Lord and following his convictions (as the person of whom I speak believes them to be). Anyway, I prayed to the Lord for this person to change and something happened.

You must understand something: I love to pray outside. Though everything in my theology says otherwise, I simply feel as if God is closer when I look into the sky. Perception can go a long way in prayer, as many of you know. When the sky is clear and the moon and stars are shinning bright, I perceive myself to be more in the presence of God than at any other time. My prayers feel like they are more productive. I feel as if I have a red phone hotline to my Father. Simply put, it is hard for me to feel forsaken when I pray outside. And this morning was no different.

However, as I came up the hill and began to pray for the Lord to change the mind of this certain person, suddenly the sky went dark. No, not literally. But had the sky actually gone dark, it would have had the same effect on the way I felt at this moment. It was as if my phone call to the Lord suddenly got disconnected. I thought nothing of it at first, but as I continued to pray this same prayer, the perception remained. It was as if God was not listening to this particular prayer. So I began to pray about the prayer itself. “Lord, are you trying to tell me something? You know I am trying to be more open to this type of communication – this prophecy stuff.” Interestingly enough, when I prayed this prayer, the heavens opened back up. The dropped call was instantly reestablished. So I tried the previous prayer again, “Lord, please change the heart of this person.” Once again, the call was immediately dropped. The heavens, as C.S. Lewis would put it, were brass.

Was the Lord telling me something through this prayer? Was he telling me that I needed to let this one go? Better yet, was the Lord telling me this person was on the right path and my own opinion, that he was wrong, was in error? It certainly could be interpreted in such a way.

However, as many of you know, for better or for worse, it is not like me to think this way. In fact, I believe over-interpreting experiences such as this one is very dangerous and, ironically, as destructive as that which I was praying about (what the man was involved in). Therefore, I followed the path of Gideon. You know: the guy in Judges 6 who was called by God to deliver Israel? It’s an interesting story. When he was called to this path of deliverance he timidly asked the Lord for an evident sign (just in case he was misunderstanding things). He told the Lord to make a fleece wet with dew overnight, while the grass surrounding it stayed dry. When this happened, he asked the Lord, even more timidly and with more requests for forgiveness, to give him one more sign. This time he asked for the overnight dew to fall on the grass and not the fleece. The Lord obliged, and Gideon moved forward with God’s plan.

My feelings of a disconnected call were not enough for me to change my thinking about this very important issue. It would be crazy for me to interpret life and truth with nothing more than a “feeling” of the Lord’s disapproval. So I said to the Lord, “Forgive me. But your word and truth are too precious to me to let this one experience change my thinking. There is nothing in the Bible to give me definite guidence here. Therefore, if you have indeed come down from heaven and intervened in my emotional well-being during this prayer in a miraculous way, so as to make the heavens close, may I ask you to do something else for me?” My iPad was on my stationary bike in my garage. As I searched for my own “fleece,” my thoughts went directly to it. I don’t know why, but I was compelled to ask the Lord to do something miraculous with it. I had been reading my “through the Bible” reading plan this morning before my walk and prayer. I was not sure if I had closed the Bible program out or not. So I asked the Lord to do something I could not deny. “Lord, if you are truly attempting to communicate to me about this issue the way this feeling can be interpreted, please see that I am protecting your name in my life by asking for a more direct and evident sign. Therefore, when I come back into my garage, let my iPad be open (not locked as it usually is when idle).” I know, I know . . . that is easy. Just hang with me. There is more to the prayer. “Let my iPad be open to the book Saving Darwin.“Why did I choose that book? I don’t know. It was the first thing that came to my mind. I had not read it in a long time so it seemed enough to be a valid sign. But there is still more, “Lord, let it not only be open, but let it be open to page 134.” Why 134? Again, I don’t know. That is just what came out.

I got to my garage and with great anticipation looked at my iPad. And you know what? The screen was dark. It was not open as I had requested. However, I thought that perhaps the Lord did not understand me about making it “unlocked” (after all, is the Lord up on such technology?). So I opened it to see if the requested book on Kindle was open. Guess what? . . . It wasn’t.

Not what you expected? I am sorry for the letdown. But I think there is an important lesson here.

I had a feeling this morning. I could have let it stand on its own. I could have based something that I believe upon such a feeling, something very important that the Bible was not clear on. However, this would have been very irresponsible. The volatility of emotions and feelings is, well . . . volatile. They come and go. They are easily and frequently misinterpreted. I can’t just believe, adjust, and change my views on things simply because I feel like the heavens closed during my prayer. Who am I to feel my way to truth? Am I not fallen? Is my heart not desperately wicked? Are my ways (feelings) always to be interpreted as the Lord’s ways (feelings)?

I have nothing against feelings. I have nothing against emotions. I believe the Lord often uses these in our lives. But when we let feelings rule our lives, no matter how profound they might be in the moment, destruction and misery are soon to follow. Soon we will be making pivotal decisions based upon feelings alone (“I just don’t feel like the Lord wants us to stay married”). Soon we will be adjusting our theology, with feelings being in the driver’s seat (“I don’t feel forgiven by God” or “I don’t feel like the Lord would allow people to go to hell for eternity”). Soon we will be making unwarranted accusations due to these feelings (“I have a deep down feeling that you are having an affair”). Soon feelings will sit control just about everything. Soon, we who think we are following the Lord due to these feelings, will be far away from him because we are not more jealous for the word of the Lord than we are for our feelings. The Lord is not going to come down upon you for asking for a more substantial sign than a feeling. When I read the account of Gideon, I get no sense that the Lord was displeased with him for asking for two evident signs.

Judges 6:36-39
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Notice: Gideon was already promised something from the Lord. Yet he needed more. All this talk about “doubting Thomas”, how does Gideon get a pass? But he needed more than whatever he already had and the Lord provided. Why? Because God is that big. He can do some amazing stuff.

Feelings are wonderful. Emotions are persuasive. Therefore, we need to keep them in check, harnessing them into subjection to reality. The Lord is not going to reprimand you for not bowing to your emotions every time the sky goes dark. In fact, he is more likely to reprimand you for doing just that.

Did the “darkness” mean anything? I don’t know. But I have not adjusted my thinking about this issue with my friend. I still am not sure whether his decisions are right or wrong, though I lean toward the wrong. The experience of not having an experience did not definitely condemn him! Nor should it. I will continue to pray the way I prayed before about the situation.

Please note: I have included this post in the category of “doubt”, “depression”, and “losing faith” because this is where these type of things inevitably lead.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    52 replies to "My Amazing Feeling from the Lord This Morning"

    • jim

      Wow, you had me looking for intervention from God. I think you hit the nail on the head with the concept of not allowing our emotions , feelings, dictate over the word of God. There are times when feelings/word, line up perfectly and enhance each other. AS well I too love the night sky and nature as compelling evidence of God’s handiwork and how it brings us closer to him. It’s rather odd that something so vast, empty and distant brings enclosure and a inward filling of his presence. Living in a rural area of Canada we see the glories of God that most city dwellers miss on a nightly basis. It’s like looking upon his throne.

    • Craig Bennett

      Michael I think there are better and more scriptural ways to test the spirits then that. I would ask the Lord to show me through his word if I was wrong about my thoughts and the prayer I was praying.

      2ndly I’m not sure we have the right to ask the Lord to cause someone to change their mind….rather it seems Paul’s example is to pray that that person will know the will of God and will grow in the knowledge of his love….

      My thoughts anyway….

    • Jim Zeirke

      Awesome post Michael! It hits the nail on the head for me today. Thanks!!

    • Ellen Jervis

      In my walk, being a disciple now for 40 years, I recall trying that fleece thing a few times. It never worked for me either. But continual prayer about a matter until I get the feeling that I can stop praying about it specifically or maybe my prayers concerning it change – now that happens. Like Lewis said, and this is not a direct quote but something like it, one should pray not to change God or to get God to do something but rather pray because prayer changes us. In the past 40 years I am here to tell you that you can nail that to the wall – because it is truth.

      Thanks again Michael for your authentic and genuine approach to a subject. You have this honest way of sorting out things and putting them down on paper so a person can follow the logic of it and say to themselves – I get that, I understand what he is saying and to feel good about having done that.

    • Kevin Bullock

      I thought for a moment you converted over to the charismatic camp. It is funny when I read your initial thoughts I had hope that you did very specifically get an answer to your prayer. I tend to have the same thoughts regarding personal revelation and the dangers that are inherent as you do, that doesn’t stop me from wishing it were true though.

      I do have a question, if an answer to prayer or an indication that you are following God’s will is not specific like the one you described, do you believe there is any experiential way to know that God is present and has answered a prayer?

      I have never witnessed a healing or anything regarded as miraculous but I do believe that God has spoken very clearly to me at certain times through the words of people (they did not realize it so it was not the same as someone “speaking a word of knowledge”) and situations that I have been involved in. Not one time did it have to do with anything other than my own attitude and actions towards others and God Himself.

    • C Michael Patton

      Kevin,

      That is a good question. I don’t have any answer. All I know is that hindsight is 20/20. The most important decision I have ever made outside of my trusting Christ is marrying my wife. I never had any deep feelings or revelations from God. Before I got married, I did all I could to remain prayerful and biblical, hoping I was not unequally yoked (at the same time trusting the Lord’s grace more than my inner feelings of assurance). Before we got married I did not know if it was the Lord’s will. I just moved forward in trust. Now that we are married, I know that it was the Lord’s will. Why? Not because of any feeling I have now, but because we are, in fact, married!

      Some things are like this.

      However, I think that our pursuit for assurance in decision is something of an end around to faithfully trusting the Lord. Faith is never blind, but it requires us to take steps without certainty.

    • Kevin Bullock

      “However, I think that our pursuit for assurance in decision is something of an end around to faithfully trusting the Lord”

      Gotcha, lol! (I’ll sit back down now) Put that way, that may be exactly what it is. I used to read Nouwen quite a bit he uses trust as a synonym to faith often in his books.

      It was the opposite for me, my wife was absolutely unequally yoked, I married her because i thought she was attractive and she didn’t run away. My conversion came 6 years after our marriage, it was a time of radical change in faith and perspective for me and it is the time I was alluding to when I believed i heard or felt God’s presence.

      …anyway I get your point, and it is well taken.

      Thank you for your response and your willingness to take on questions like these. Keep it up brother I appreciate your writing.

    • Richard Klaus

      Michael,
      I, too, love your honest approach to these issues and your willingness to both be an active seeker as well as tell us all of your ongoing experiences. I wonder, though, if the Gideon paradigm was the best to use here. I wrote something on another thread about Peter in Acts 10 that may be relevant here:
      “Regarding dreams and subjectivity…I’ve been impressed by looking at Acts 10 and seeing the interplay between revelatory moments, rational thought, and providential events. Peter is engaged in set prayers (v 9) and falls “into a trance” (v 10). He has a revelatory experience of the sheet coming down with unclean animals. This revelatory event does not bring with it an inherent sense of clarity because “Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be” (v 17). This perplexity causes Peter to “reflect on the vision” (v 19) obviously engaging rational powers. In the midst of this reflection the Holy Spirit “speaks” to Peter about three men looking for him (v 19-20). Simultaneous with this the three men from Cornelius are at the front gate. This is the providential element and it is memorable to Peter because when he recounts the story in Acts 11 he mentions that it was “at that moment three men appeared” (Acts 11.11). When Peter finally comes to Cornelius’ house he says the following: “God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean” (v 28). This conclusion is a result of a complex of factors including a revelatory vision, the direct speech of the Holy Spirit, rational thought processes and providential events. Putting these all together Peter comes to his conclusion. The vision by itself did not yield this clarity. It was one factor. I see no reason why it might not be the same today. So even if one wants to say that a vision or dream is not clear or that it is open to subjectivity this is no different than the NT times. We look to all the potential factors to draw conclusions.”
      This seems a closer parallel to your situation.
      Two more quick thoughts:
      1. I would recommend Dallas Willard’s “Hearing God”, Klaus Issler’s “Wasting Time with God” and J.P. Moreland & Klaus Issler’s “In Search of a Confident Faith” as works to help with idea of an interactive, communicative relationship with God.
      2. If you use the Gideon paradigm what is your new fleece you are using to test your current belief that your friend is on the wrong path? To be fair, why not put out a fleece for your current belief? Or do you think that only “feelings” need to be “fleeced?”

    • JohnB

      It’s funny, I think many of us wanted your ipad to be open to the correct book. We wanted something supernatural to happen, but we were relieved when the supernatural did not happen. Life was normal again. We don’t expect God to really do these things, but it would be nice.

    • C Michael Patton

      John, what a clean, honest, down to earth way to put it.

    • John Metz

      Thanks, Michael, for another fine post. Like others who have replied, I always enjoy the honest and open way you approach topics. It is very easy to relate to your experiences. I think many of us have tried the “fleece” method and found it wanting. Eventually, I was very happy that those things did not work so well.

      I do have a few questions for consideration. Should a Christian know the presence of God (sometimes with feelings and sometimes without)? Are there times when a believer must trust in the instant leading of the Lord? 1 John says that we have an anointing–“And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know” (2:20). What, then, should be our day-by-day experience of the anointing?

      It is easy to make a mistake in our daily experience. It is easy to be mislead by “feelings.” However, it is also a mistake to reject or dismiss subjective experience. After all, Paul said, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom. 8:28) and “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace” (v. 6). Both verses, and many others, are very experiential.

      Our experiences should not stand alone but be checked by the Word. Peter witnessed the Lord’s transfiguration and was sure of it. But Peter coupled his recounting of that genuine experience with the Word by saying, “And we have the prophetic word made more firm…” (2 Pet. 1:19).

      I am not so much interested in the miraculous (I do not dismiss it) as I am in the daily, practical experience of our Lord Christ as life.

      Thanks again, Michael, for addressing these things in the way you do.

    • Angie Batey

      Jesus said that we wouldn’t be shown any other signs. But I have prayed and got just as angry at God as Job did (perhaps angrier) and ever since then I have seen signs, not signs that I’ve asked for but signs that literally show me proof everyday that He is fathoms greater and smarter than I am or could ever be. When people ask Him for signs He laughs at them probably. Such little signs belittle Him when He is everything. God has a personality. Stronger than I have every seen on any living Man. He has arrogance and He has ego…His freakin’ God for cryin’ out loud! You can disagree with Him but you’d be wrong.

    • philwynk

      I suspect that you missed it.

      I think perhaps you were hearing properly while you were praying. I think you know perfectly well when the Holy Spirit was making contact, and why. And I think your fleece was an avoidance mechanism, that you also know that perfectly well, and that the Holy Spirit did exactly what He always does when we start playing games with Him: nothing.

      The responsible thing was not to invent cutesy fleeces, but to prayerfully re-examine the issue, asking for the Lord to guide your thinking. That’s not letting your emotions run away with you; that’s creating a means for God to interrupt your own, stubborn thinking.

      Christianity is not a relationship with a book, not even with a God-breathed book. It’s a relationship with a living God. If the only way God can get through to you is through the book, then that’s how He’ll get through, but you’re a lot more flexible if you’re available by other means as well. Jesus was, and He is our model.

    • susan smith

      michael-did love your honesty and the comments that followed….
      off subject….why or how did spring arbor university become a sponsor? i went there when it was just a college….8)

    • Selah

      You should have taken some alka-selza! 🙂

    • MatthewS

      All DAY I’ve been wondering how in the world my Kindle app got to Saving Darwin on page 134…

      jk. I don’t even have an iPad.

      I really identify with wishing for more evidence of what’s actually going on in communion with God. I try to sit and listen on a regular basis but don’t usually hear much. But I have seen tangible things happen that I had no idea how they would (a significant amount of money from various unpredictable sources for our church to sent a group of kids to camp to name one of several). I have seen myself change in ways I have been trying to change for years but had previously failed.

      I was torn between hoping your iPad was open and wondering what my logical explanation would be for it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Don Johnson

      I am charismatic.

      When I was first given charisms I had never even heard of them before, and did not know they were even in the Bible or that other church groups had claimed expressing them for today. It was a totally baffling experience. I actually went to churches and told them I had questions about spiritual gifts (as that was what I had, questions about what had happened to me), and many told me they do not do them there.

      But I was open to all that God had for me. God wants all of us, including our emotions. Yes, we are not to RELY on our emotions, but sometimes things do line up with Scripture and then we can rest in that.

    • Angie Batey

      I would also like to remind people that Jesus also said that Men ARE Gods. if Men are Gods and all Men have the Spirit of God in them then one could surmise that God is just waiting for Man to wake up and realize that they are much more valuable then they realize. That He does not want to break them. Thaat He expects them to acknowledge Him so they might rule along-side Him. Just my opinion of the scriptures. Jesus said the scriptures could not be broken. God’s Sons are very similar to Him, I think. Arrogant and Prideful. But, if you are a Son of God…how could you not feel arrogance and pride? If you know for certain who you are?

    • Dave Z

      Man, you gotta work on the fleece thing, Michael. It works way better if the fleece is something like “If it is Your will that I call in sick and spend the day fishing, then please allow the sun to rise at the normal time. If it is your will that I go to work, then please delay sunrise one hour.”
      A fleece like that works every time!

    • Mike

      I agree with philwynk.

      A big difference between your experience and Gideon’s was that God was asking Gideon to do an uncommon and potentially dangerous thing. You, on the other hand, were asking something of God–quite a common request I imagine–to change someone else’s heart, and when the answer was “no” you wanted to know if that meant you should change your own heart (a much better request I think, and probably one God is more likely to respond to). You were approaching God with a request, whereas God was approaching Gideon with a command and prophecy.

      When you asked, “Lord, are you trying to tell me something? You know I am trying to be more open to this type of communication – this prophecy stuff” the heavens opened for you again. That sounds like a “yes.” Not necessarily a commandment to do any dangerous thing, but an affirmation of something you had already reasoned out–not only felt, but reasoned–that you should be more open to this type of communication.

      This didn’t come across (in my reading of your story) as a simple feeling, rather it seemed to me that you reasoned one thing out, perceived a withdrawal of God’s presence or communion, reasoned another thing out, and experienced a reconnection with God. Feeling, but not only feeling, also reasoning and perceiving a divine response (“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” Isaiah 1:18).

      Your “fleece” then seems to me to be a negation of your claim to be open to these kinds of experiences–an expression of doubt. You said “I’m open,” and you got a response, then you said in effect “I’m not open” [to that kind of experience, I need something different], and so again the heavens were brass–you received no response. Not just a “no” response, but no response since you were unsure whether the locked iPad meant anything at all–less sure it seems than you were of the experience of a closing and opening heaven. If God wanted you to be open to that type of communication, but you requested a different kind, and God responded to THAT, then he would have been undermining his previous response: that you should be more open to the first type of communication.

      In short, it seems that unlike Gideon, of whom God was asking an uncommon thing, you were asking something simple of God and didn’t like His answer. Why then should he give a different one, or even the same answer, but of a different quality that by its very nature could undermine your confidence in the first? If God answered you via iPad it seems you would be more likely to trust that sort of thing in the future and less likely to be satisfied with the communion you at first experienced. But since you came to that “unsatisfied” conclusion anyway it seems that there may not be much more God can do to convince you that direct communion with him of the sort you first experienced (an open heaven as you put it) is a valid sort of communication with God.

    • Fabio

      Hi Michael,

      Brilliant post! I completely agree that feelings need to be kept in check by rationality and that staying firm in the word is the only thing that keeps us from being swayed like a reed in the wind of our feelings.

      I’m not convinced, though, about Gideon’s innocence in the matter of the fleece. Just because God patiently suffered Gideon’s requests, it does not follow that Gideon’s requests were righteous. The Bible is silent on the pronouncement of guilt on several occasions. The most obvious example that comes to mind is Abraham on the two occasions that he lied and put his wife in danger by saying that she was his sister. It’s no good to say that this was somehow different because Abraham was directly disobeying a commandment of God, because so too was Gideon: Do not test God.

      Gideon was not keeping his feelings in check, he was giving in to his fears. It’s obvious that he truly believed that God had spoken to him; he was just doubting God’s ability to succeed in His promise *despite* himself and his weaknesses. He was lacking in faith. That is not righteous.

      There is so very much wisdom in Augustine’s “formula” for doing God’s will: Love God with all your being and then do what you want. (Paraphrase). A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that this is just giving up on trying to figure out God’s will, but I strongly disagree! If you love God–truly love God–then you will love what He loves and hate what He hates, and you will automatically be in His will for you. You won’t’ be able to *not* do his will. No fleece or ephod necessary.

      Michael, I say all this not to teach you something–you are far wiser than me–but in the hopes that if I’ve got something wrong that you will correct me. I can always use some refinement of my theology.

      Your DVD series of classes is awesome, God bless you for it!

    • Rob Lazar

      You know, it’s weird. I normally get up in the morning and go straight to one of my favorite bible teachers website and listen to the daily teaching. This morning is different though. I felt I needed to open your email. I clicked the link and wound up here. I read with great interest the story of your morning under the stars. My heart was greatly moved and I couldn’t stop reading. Was I being led be here? Of course, I was. Whether a direct act from God or just the things I did this morning. I ended up here over the thing I routinely do. But there was nothing as direct as “thus saith the Lord”. I can’t say that because I doubt my experience this morning was on the level of the prophets. I do believe that God acts each and every moment in the affairs of His creation. For if He ever removed His interaction with the universe, I’m convinced it would instantaneously decay into chaos. But I’m equally convinced that direct messages from Him are extremely rare (even in New Testament times) given the number of people on earth and the amount of time for such direct messages to happen.

    • Steve Cornell

      Reading this made me think of a recent post I’ve been taking a little heat for: Do inner promptings reveal God’s will? http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/do-inner-promptings-reveal-gods-will-3/

    • robert pritchard

      The problem come when you were judging another mans direction . when it is God who directs our lives. Your prayer should have been that God will be watching this other person and keep them and teach them Gods way. . NOT TO CHANGE THE OTHER PERSONS MIND. As for communication. it happens when we are completely free of our own opinions and ideas. . like twins boys. to prove their communications they went to the mountain. one climbed up. the arrangement. He would get caught and would send a message to his brother to come and help. But no communication came and at dusk he drove back to the town to get help. Meanwhile the twin in the mountain , did become entangled in his rope, ?? he tried to call his brother . by voice and by mental communication. ?? eventually he untangled himself and made it back to camp. No one there. he went to sleep. after 15 / 20 min he woke in a lather of sweat with a vision of a wooded valley and a land rover upside down burning and a body laying on the ground. ??? . The sheriff in town worried about the twins drove up the mountain and found the brother laying on the ground with the vehicle upside down burning. ??? Lucky both boys are now ok. . the lesson. you cannot talk to God you must wait for Him to talk to you. You cannot tempt God and you cannot judge others. You can only pray that God will be with them whatever and wherever life takes them. In the NT. there lots of references of watching and waiting on God. Jesus continued all night in prayer. God never came but eventually he sent an Angel to strengthen Him for the experience ahead. . When all your bridges are burnt . then do you begin to set forth on the path that leads into the heart of creation. and to God.

    • Bob Pratico

      Sorry – I think you missed it, Michael (1 Kings 19:9-18). While God certainly can and does speak through external signs, he often speaks in that still small voice to the believer.

    • jim

      Rob, You said”I do believe that God acts each and every moment in the affairs of His creation” I disagree with this statement. For example, if one was to leap out of a forty story high building, odds are, that you will fall due to the nature of gravity. This law of gravity works without God’s intervention in a moment by moment process. Is it possible for God to create and set in motion physical laws that are constant. Yes, God could change them as he is God, but it is possible that some things created are mostly predictable and we can count on the fact that if we fall from 40 stories up, bad things are likely to occur. Could not the creator set in motion many things that for our benefit we can know thee are consequences. God is personal but you step in front of a moving automobile, do drugs, play with dynamite, we can assume God will let the process flow.
      He can and has worked wonders in some cases but it certainly isn’t the standard. IMHO

    • Kim McCulley

      Prepare for an off-topic response (or, as my husband says to me when he thinks I’m too random, “Whoa! Push in the clutch before you change gears like that!”)…I digress.

      You people are so refreshingly CIVIL when you disagree!! I have become so disheartened by the ugliness that often results among Christians (?) when they disagree. Name calling, condescending attitudes, accusations of heresy (on matters that are so clearly NOT). I think if people spent much time on this site, they could get the impression that there are Christians who (1) are actually intelligent human beings and (2) actually BELIEVE what they profess. This is dangerous territory, people…dare I say…radical?

      Keep it up! I LOVE this place. My faith feels strengthened every time I “stop by”.

    • Bo Grimes

      I’m not sure there is as fine a distinction as you seem to be making between thoughts and feelings. If God was communicating with you as you prayed and chose not to ‘validate’ it with your ‘fleece,’ and there is no clear teaching in the Word (that you are aware of) how do you know in your analytical post-processing of the experience that it wasn’t God?

      Thoughts are just as susceptible as emotions to post-Fall distortion, including thoughts about feelings and feelings about thoughts.

      Gideon had his strengths, to be sure, but he also made those from Missouri look like pure mystics in comparison. Like usual, showing He can use the “weakest member from the weakest clan,” God called Gideon. Gideon shows how corrupted Israel had become (his father even had an alter to Ba’al) by saying “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us.” Both a distorted thought and a distorted feeling.

      God demonstrates it’s not Gideon’s faith but His faithfulness that matters. He doesn’t consume Gideon on the spot, as He could and would be just and right in doing, as with any of us. The Lord actually addressed Gideon as “Mighty hero,” and when Gideon showed his doubt, God didn’t rebuke him; he actually commissioned him: “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”

      Incredible! God says “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you”–perhaps even as the one uttering those very words. Gideon basically replies “Yeah, right. You say so, but it’s obvious to any rational person He’s not.” And God’s response is to commission him!

      Gideon then whines like Pigglet “Bbbb-but, I’m too ttttt-timid.” With infinite patience, the Lord says “I’ll be with you.” Gideon ban Missouri says “show me.” “If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign.” So he runs home, whips up some tasty goat and bread and rushes back. Then after the Lord consumes the offering Gideon has what might have been the granddaddy of all “Oh, crap!” moments in history.

      So now he’s on board, kinda, sorta, at least for a while. God tells him to destroy a pagan alter and a pagan pole, build a true alter and sacrifice a bull. Well, OK, Gideon does it, but he takes 10 servants with him and “did it at night because he was afraid.”

      Is Gideon ready to go up to the big leagues, get in the Show. Nope. Basically he’s still going with “the strength he has” which is just fine because it’s God’s faithfulness that matters and not Gideon’s weak faith. Gideon still wants to be sure God really wants him to actually go into battle against the allied armies. So this time he asks God for a sign, and then when he gets it replies like a Teletubbie: “Again, again!”

      Gideon received direct communication from God. Sometimes we over-analyze God’s communication with us because we trust our thoughts more than our feelings. Gideon’s thoughts were just as distorted as his feelings. God is faithful, still.

    • Kendall

      I really appreciate this post. Letting my emotions get the better of my judgement spiritually has always been a weakness of mine. This post really gives me food for thought, and something to really pray about.

    • H Ward

      Sooo, one day I was walking my dog and talking to the Lord about giving money to a particular ministry. I wasn’t sure about the giving because we were pretty strapped for cash and I thought it might upset my husband but wanted to do what God . So I asked for a very elaborate sign. Two actually. One to give the money and one if I shouldn’t, just so there would be no doubt. A few hours later I did get the sign I was asking for. It totally caught me off guard because once I returned home I was busy with my grandchildren and had totally put that conversation with God out of mind. I was not TESTING God. Testing is much different than asking for help. I was very unsure of what to do, and did not want to make a decision based on my own feelings. I just wanted to know that this was something that my God wanted.
      I also prayed for a sign when I was fearful for my daughter and God responded… I DO NOT pray for signs anymore. I have heard to often that it is wrong and that we should go to God’s Word for answers. (I feel that I have limited my relationship with God in that respect). Did God have the same relationship with Moses that He had with Gideon or Jonah or Abraham? Did all the prophets pray and respond to God in the exact same way? God knows what is in our hearts and He knows our needs and for that reason alone I would never tell anyone how to or what to pray for.

    • TL

      Michael P., your forthrightness is very appreciated. Phil’s forthrightness is also appreciated. And I suspect he hit it right. There are some in this world who trust in themselves and their intellect more than they do in the ability of God to communicate with them. There is nothing wrong with intellect and thoughtful consideration unless it interferes with our ability to hear, sense or feel God’s presence and doings in our lives. And there is nothing wrong with feelings (they are a gift from God) unless they interfere with our ability to hear, sense or be aware of God’s presence and doings in our lives.

      The concept that we can only ever know by hindsight is a horrible way of authenticating groping in the darkness of human reasoning. God is able. God is able to speak to us in varying ways. Generally, God will choose a way that we CAN spot and that also challenges us to listen and stretches our comprehension of life and spiritual issues. I think you have been challenged, but you haven’t stepped up to the plate yet. And it was such a small challenge. What could go wrong with just asking God how HE wants you to pray for that individual?

    • jim

      TL , I guess my question is how do you know whether it’s God’s leading and not your own leading(feelings) You aslo said intellect is good as long as it does not interfere with our ability to sense or feel, or hear, God’s presence. Can you clarify the word hear for me. I get the feel or sense part.

      Thanks,

    • Brian

      Michael,

      You said that this is turning out to be one of the most hit blogs of the year.

      Actually, this doesn’t surprise me at all. How often do we hear teachers and preachers, heck even our friends, talk in detail about what happens inside the prayer closet? What happens inside us? How often do we hear people be really objective about how it all really works.

      I personally am so use to christians putting some spin on why it didn’t work, because to confront the truth that they don’t have all the answers and don’t know things as well as they claim is too hard to admit.

      I think many sermons are based on standing outside the closet and surmising what is “suppose to happen.” I think many of us sit around in circles and “pray” with our friends. But rarely do we actually get down into the mechanics of our personal communications with God and investigate them.

      And what you are describing is certainly the most base action of our connection with God. Yet it is probably the most difficult thing to really understand, control, master, get a hold of, feel empowered by, however you want to characterize it.

      Prayer, to me, is the most simple, yet fundamental action of all our beliefs. Therefore it is often the most expressive of what we know and don’t know about Him…and us.

    • Donnie

      So what would you have done if youripad was open to the Book of Mormon (the part about your bosom burning) instead of your initial request? Not just open, but flashing. Not just flashing, but highlighted. Maybe even stuck on the audio version saying over & over, “how you know this is true…” I’m no Mormon, but an audible word from an ipad is pretty convincing…isn’t it?

    • C Michael Patton

      Donnie,

      Great question. It would indeed be quite increadible since I don’t have the Book of Mormon on my comp.

      However, Deut is pretty clear that a prophet or prophecy must have two accompanying signs to be valid. First, it must have some type of miraculous nature to it. Being open to the Book of Mormon would qualify I suppose (even though that is not as specific as I asked for). But the second, covered in Deut 13, would have disqualified it as having come from the Lord. Deut 13 says that the Lord will often test his people by allowing for a miraculous sign, yet accompany it with wrong theology. In this case, we are not to follow. Being open to the Book of Mormon would have been bad theology and therefore disqualified it.

      What would I have done. First, search diligently for alternative explanations. If none were possible, the I would not say it was from the Lord, but from Satan.

    • Bo Grimes

      First, being open to the Book of Mormon would probably have been more “miraculous” since it’s not on your IPad. Second, would you have searched for “alternative explanations” if it had been open to Saving Darwin p.134? If not, why not?

      Third, what if it had been open to the Bible, but a version you don’t have on your IPad, say the REB, maybe, and specifically to Matthew 16:4: “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”?

    • C Michael Patton

      Yes, I would have tried to think of alternative explanations. I actually take these things in a method of inquiry not unlike “methodological naturalism”. It would have been harder to explain had the book been open to Saving Darwin p. 134 as that is exactly what I asked for and no one could have known. The book of Mormon, I suppose, could have come preinstalled, or free on Kindle. There would be many alternatives that my request would not share.

      Had it been open to Matt 15:4, I would not have thought too much about it. I read some of the Gospels every day. Concerning that verse, I don’t apply it to this situation as I was not looking for a sign to believe in Christ, but for his will. It would not be unlike saying, “Lord, if you want me to buy this house, make it evident.” Is that asking for a sign? In a way, yes. Just not so specific.

      I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to ask for a sign when the Bible is not clear. What I do think is wrong is canonizing signs that are mere feelings. That was the point of the post.

    • Bo Grimes

      Had it been open to Matt 15:4, I would not have thought too much about it. I read some of the Gospels every day.

      Which is why I suggested it be in a version you don’t have downloaded.

      Nor was I intending to convey any implied criticism about asking for signs, only the difficulty of discerning the meaning. Gideon had been directly told something by God quite specific; you were not.

      Had the IPad been exactly as you requested, it seems to me the best you could have said then was: OK Lord. I accept you were trying to tell me something this morning during prayer, but what?

      Even then, there could have been as likely alternative explanations for your specific request as for something odd you had not asked for. Suppose the Gideon’s fleece had been dry the first time?

      I am also unsure as to what a “mere” feeling is? If your ‘fleece’ had been ‘wet’ when you returned home would your feeling on the walk have been something more than a ‘mere’ feeling or would you have had a new feeling about the first feeling and taken that feeling as confirmation of the first?

      And what, precisely, would have been confirmed?

    • Mike

      Another thought is that your initial experience was pretty “scientific” from the standpoint of reason. There are several reasons for this:

      1. You didn’t expect the initial response. Usually when we deceive ourselves it is expectancy that brings it about–we convince ourselves that what we wanted to hear was indeed what we heard. This possibility of expectancy effects is consistent with the fleece experience, but not with your original one. From the standpoint of reason, the first experience was more likely authentically from God because it was not only unexpected–but NOT what you wanted to hear–it is unlikely that you generated it. However, not only was the iPad result likely what you expected, it also relieved you of the discomfort of having to change your mind. This is more likely due to expectancy effects.

      2. You did what is analogous to a single-subjects experimental manipulation. The “baseline” was your experience of communion with God, the “experiment” was your request. The “baseline” changed dramatically during the experiment phase (the heavens closed), showing a possible real effect of the experiment. You then did a reversal by altering your question, and you indeed returned to “baseline” (an open heaven). This was a sort of validity test. Such experimental reversals are common in attempts to prove causality in single subjects research.

      But you took it a step farther by 3. including a replication, which is important in science for establishing reliability. When you repeated the initial question you returned again to the experimental effect (a closed heaven). In single subjects research, two experimental conditions separated by a reversal (return to baseline) is a pretty good indicator of a real effect. You ruled out chance and expectancy effects.

      The iPad experiment was a completely separate experiment with different conditions, baseline, and expectations or requirements for ruling out chance, so a different outcome in that experiment has no bearing on the first. But even if all the conditions had been met there is a slight possibility that it would be still due to chance (computer malfunction and a very lucky guess) unless you similarly did a reversal and replication as in the first experiment.

    • C Michael Patton

      Mike,

      I am pretty hard line when it comes to this stuff. Feelings are never enough for assurance, especially with what I was praying about.

      That is why I have (and probably will continue to for the rest of my life) sympathized with Gideon and Thomas. Belief does not come easy for me and I don’t want it too…it is too special. I dare not put something in the mouth of God due to a short bout of emotional depression. I pray that no one does.

      Thanks for the comments.

    • C Michael Patton

      Bo. I am not sure. My method on discerning God’s movements is rusty until glory. For now, consistency alludes me to some degree. However, I doubt that mere feelings are ever going to be exclusive to my canon of inquiry. Present, yes. Exclusive, no.

      For the most part, we just put one foot in front of the other without definite assurance on things that the Bible does not clearly speak.

    • C Michael Patton

      However, one thing I will remind people of is that I am in a period of discussion with Sam Storms on the charismatic gifts debate. One of these gifts is prophecy which Sam said we could all be and hope for. I doubt that I would have even recognized the odd feeling during my prayer were I not at least trying to be more open to the continuation of prophecy. At the very least you can see that I don’t enter these discussions with my mind dogmatically set.

      Were the events of yesterday morning to have turned differently, it may have been a feather in the hat of the charismatics. (Although, I doubt it would have been enough to convert me!)

    • Alby

      I tend to agree with you about keeping our emotions in check. I am not saying, nor do I think you said this either, that God doesn’t speak to us through our emotions. I very much think that when our emotions seem to be affected by a “God moment” or “experience” (whatever you want to call it) it is a reaction to God’s presence. Some people may weep, some get a little bit more “joyful”, some may get quiet before God to try and hear Him, and some may get loud in their praise to the Lord. In either case the emotion expressed is one of reaction to what is being felt deep with our soul/ spirit.

      The danger comes into play when we overreact and tend to look for things not really there just to make sense of what we are feeling. This is one reason why I think Paul wrote that we should take ever thought captive. For example when a certain “revival” happened on Toronto, stuff that came about like barking and other animal traits- overreaction I think on some part, maybe some ignorance, too. I think some “words form the Lord” that people have are a part of this not taking the thought captive. Maybe God is speaking to them personally, but they take it to mean they have to share it w/ everyone. Or it may be scriptural, but they may feel they have to share every thought that runs through their head. They tend to speak before they think. I’m a continuationist and I tend to think that when someone that says they don’t believe in the gifts and site extreme examples lead for why, I believe it goes back to the “captive thoughts” issue and overreaction on the example’s part (except for those who are clearly trying to deceive). At the same time they also are reacting from emotion about how they feel because of the negative example they may have experienced.

      Though with the Charismatic movement I do think people have had the tendency to run off emotions chasing after that which is not God’s usual form. Take for example Acts 19:12 where it says that “unusual” miracles were worked though Paul. Gold dust and teeth? I have never seen these, but at one point it seemed that people all sought this out, and if it didn’t’ happen it meant God didn’t move. If you didn’t get “slain in the spirit” you didn’t experience God. It reminds me of Israel at the time of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4) when he destroyed the high places and the bronze serpent that Moses was commanded by God to make, it became an idol of worship. It’s like tunnel vision to where they think God can only move one way. They focus on the “unusual” ways God has moved, but don’t seem to care about God’s usual way (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11ff).

      Yes, God uses the weak to confound the strong, like Gideon, but Gideon’s fleece is not a “usual” for us to do. Faith, hope, and love, those will always be; not to mention that the holy Spirit leads us to all truth. Interesting thought, Gideon was faithful with the smaller task before God gave him the bigger task.

    • Narissa

      Excellent blog Michael. As I was first reading, I thought, now this is a credible ‘God-moment’, since it was coming from you.

      I agree that we shouldn’t use our feelings as a basis for theology or as a source of truth or as a gauge for our relationship or connection to God. But what about a feeling (singular). What about the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our Spirits? Wouldn’t that be a feeling?

      And what about other temperaments? I think we’re fairly similar in temperament, which is why I absolutely love The Theology Program and your open and objective approach to truth. However, I wonder about other temperaments finding God. And I wonder if I’m missing something.

      For instance, I don’t really feel God’s love for me. I believe it, I really believe it. And yet I don’t feel it, it’s all intellectual. But I believe that God wants me to feel it, just as he wants me to really feel love and compassion for my neighbor. And yet I have friends that claim to completely feel God’s love, as much as they do their biological father’s.

      So then what I’m trying to figure out is do I have a lack of faith on my part that causes this deficiency, is it a temperament difference, or are my friend’s feelings not actually from God and it’s no real deficiency at all?

      Thanks again for the blog Michael. As much as you write, I’m amazed by how relevant your topics always are.

    • Richard Klaus

      Michael,
      In comment #37 you wrote:

      “Yes, I would have tried to think of alternative explanations. I actually take these things in a method of inquiry not unlike “methodological naturalism”. ”

      I wasn’t clear whether this was merely descriptive or prescriptive. Are you saying that your default epistemic setting is “methodological naturalism?” If that is the case then this gets to the crux of the issue. It also explains why you continue to quest for the “thunder and fire” from God if you’re going to believe in an impression. You have raised up certain standards for an interactive relationship with God that may include an emotional component in answer to prayer. This are standards of the OT prophets–you want to see the “fire fall from heaven” or, at least, something that is so closed to any other explanation that it must be incapable of any other explanation. You will have to wrestle with whether you are using Scriptural standards here. Is “methodological naturalism” a standard you find in the Word of God?

      I still think that a better paradigm to follow in your instance would have been the Acts 10 one (see my post #8). I think that the persons commenting in posts # 13 and 20 are also worth of being considered as well. Of course, if “methodological naturalism” is the standard then nothing will convince you for you will always be able to claim that there is some naturalistic explanation. Barring that, you will always be able to ask God for “one more confirming sign” because the last one wasn’t quite enough.

      And, another point…did you put out a fleece for your current opinion that your friend’s actions are wrong? Why didn’t you fleece both options?

      Finally, thank you for your willingness to engage this discussion and allow us all to “exegete your experience.” This has been a fascinating discussion.

    • C Michael Patton

      Richard,

      Yes, I would say that “methodological naturalism” is a good description of my stance. In other word, when I experience things, I don’t default to “God is telling me something in a miraculous way”. I tend to think that he moves through the day to day occurrences in a significantly non-miraculous way. But when I say “methodological naturalism” I am saying that when I have back trouble, I don’t default to think this is a demon. I go to the doctor. However, I believe that God works “in and with” doctors. When I have an experience, I don’t default to “this is a message from God”, but I believe that God works “in and with” our experience.

      Concerning the fleece, remember that, as I said in my post, the initial experience suggested that I was wrong in my position. Therefore, I may have changed my thoughts on this alone. However the test did not determine whether I was right or wrong since nothing happened. I figured that if God was big enough to give me, what I perceived to be, a “heaviness of spirit” (whatever that REALLY is), then he could go ahead and give me more. Why would I presume to think he requires me to work off a feeling which is very volition. As I said in the OP, this is one of the biggest problems in theology and practice today. My personal feelings/experiences (especially when limited to myself) don’t really have a vote in truth. They always must be accompanied by other things or else interpreted as a small piece of the equation of discovery.

      However, back to your question, if I had had a personal experience/emotion that I was right, I would not have settled on this very difficult issue only because of this either. But I probably would not have tested it. I just don’t know what I would have done. So I remain thinking my convictions are correct and praying that this person will change, even though I am still not sure.

    • C Michael Patton

      Also, I would say that the difference between Peter and myself (concerning Acts 10) is that Peter was most certainly an established Apostle for whom these things’ legitimacy did not need to be continually re-established. I am neither an apostle or prophet. Peter, as well, could assume that his audience did not experience Christ’s presence/communication in the way that he did. “Though you do not see him know, you love him”. 1 Pet 1:8. How did Peter know they had not nor were seeing Christ? Wasn’t that assumptive on his part?

      Again, the normal Christian walk will be very spiritually undramatic, but this does not mean “unsubstantial”. That is my life, and I am somewhat content with it even though I actively explore or entertain other opinions since mine are not infallible.

    • TL

      Jim, #32
      Wrote:

      ”TL , I guess my question is how do you know whether it’s God’s leading and not your own leading(feelings) You aslo said intellect is good as long as it does not interfere with our ability to sense or feel, or hear, God’s presence. Can you clarify the word hear for me. I get the feel or sense part.”

      Thank you for the questions Jim. That is one of those questions that goes on and on for some and is easily answered for others. For me, I ‘heard’ God’s message to me by the Holy Spirit right when God was ‘calling’ me to Him. It was the Holy Spirit’s words to me that God was waiting to hear from me that drove me toward the Lord ending up in a rather dramatic conversion experience. Today with more understanding I question whether something is my own wishful thinking, a ruse of fallen angels or possibly God speaking to me. And today I would say that who but the Holy Spirit would urge anyone toward God the Father or God the Son.

      Was it Elijah in the Old Testament that kept hearing someone call his name but didn’t recognize it as God right away? It is my estimation now in my later years, that there are many ways God “speaks” to our hearts. Sometimes it is audible to us, but that is somewhat rare. Most often it is some other way of knowing God’s directions, depending upon our maturity in spiritual matters and how open or resistant one is to spiritual ways. For one who is resistant to spiritual things, God is more limited in how He can touch that one. Even then that one is likely not to believe God is ‘speaking’ to them.

    • Richard Klaus

      Michael,
      My point about Peter in Acts 10 was not to draw a comparison between an apostle and a non-apostle. My point was that here is a passage in which a number of factors (vision, reason, and providence) all played a part in determining God’s direction. Peter had a visionary experience that was “perplexing” (v.17). He reasoned about it and God had providential timing involved as well. I don’t think anyone is saying every emotional hiccup you experience is to be seen as the the canonical word of God. But you were praying and asking God for guidance. A specific response occurred. You could have taken that and reflected on it over time and watched for providential confirmations (you can still do this, by the way) rather than impose a “fleece” on the situation.

      Regarding methodological naturalism. You wrote:

      “I tend to think that he moves through the day to day occurrences in a significantly non-miraculous way.”

      This reminded me of John Dominic Crossan’s view that the supernatural operates through the screen of the natural. William Craig responded to Crossan this way:

      “But that is naturalism. Naturalism holds that every event in the space-time order has a cause which is also part of the space-time order. There are no events which are the immediate products of supernatural causes. Naturalists need not be atheists. The deists, for example, were theistic naturalists: God acts in the world only mediately through natural causes.” “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?” p. 169.

      Maybe I’m getting too hung up on your use of the phrase “methodological naturalism” but it has a fairly established meaning and is used many times by those who would seek to undermine the faith–something I know from your ministry you are not attempting.

      Is “methodological naturalism” the best phrase to capture your approach? More importantly, is methodological naturalism sanctioned by the Bible?

    • Bo Grimes

      My personal feelings/experiences (especially when limited to myself) don’t really have a vote in truth.

      Michael,

      For decades, maybe since Freud, our culture has put a premium on feelings, and in general I agree with your concerns. As someone who has struggled with clinical depression for 30 years, and did not seek help from a Christian psychiatrist and Biblical therapist until last year because what I heard from the faith community–basically, ignore your feelings and walk by faith, and your faith must not be strong enough–I have a much more organic view of thoughts, feelings, experience and perception.

      I think you are trying to force categories whee they do not exist. As to your quote above: Is that not exactly what happened to Moses? Not just at the burning bush, but on Mt. Sinai and in the tabernacle he had one-on-one experiences of God.

      After many of them, he had what we would call ‘evidence’–tablets, the radiance of the reflection of God’s glory, but not at the bush, which started it all.

      Absolutely we should look to the Word in community and do exactly what you have done here by sharing the experience with other believers, but I am not aware of any teaching in Scripture that tells us we can not trust a feeling or experience comes from an encounter or communion with God which does not relate to orthodoxy just because it is personal, emotional or experiential.

      When I have an experience like the one you described, exceedingly rare though they are, I do not think of them so much as feelings as apprehensions. Sometimes I think I know what God is communicating to me through them, e.g. comfort, reassurance, strength, awareness of His presence.

      Sometimes I have no clue, and so I wait.

      Is not conviction of sin something very akin to a feeling sometimes? I don’t mean a clear violation of a clear command. I mean something much more fuzzy like much later we realize we that in a complex and nuanced situation we made an unfair assumption about someone’s motivations, say.

    • Angie Batey

      I like the heart in the stars in the picture of the night sky that’s above the story.

    • Matt Beale

      Hi Michael,

      a) I think to fairly test whether God was respecting your fleece request – you should always ask for a clear ‘against the odds’ sign for ‘Yes’ and a clear ‘against the odds’ sign for ‘No’, and have the remainder of possible situations indicate God has chosen not to respond to your fleece request. That way you have a clear indication that God did actually answer rather than taking the default ‘no answer given’ situation to mean something God never intended. (I guess simliar to the atheists testing/taunting prayer to be struck by lightning as an example of how not to do it.)

      If someone mentioned this above I apologize – I just skimmed through and may have missed it.

      I think pretty much all my fleece requests fall through to the default ‘no answer’ position. I think this has something to do with Christ’s example of how to commune with the Father and, yes – I have risked God’s wrath by complaining about why does hearing from God have to be so difficult.

      b) Failing that (and this is my intuitive brain talking) – I think in this instance it would be wiser to go with your feelings.

      c) I’m really missing you podcasting with Rhome (& Cromartie – ah the old days). *reflectively feels sad*.

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