Prayer, Discernment, Guidance

By Kelly Borjas:

Have you ever said something you wished you wouldn’t have said? It’s happened to me, all too often (let’s be honest: I’ve never been accused of not saying enough). When this happens, though, I leave a conversation with a sick-to-my-stomach feeling until I make the situation right.

My past weekend was an odd one. On Friday night, there was an issue on my heart I couldn’t let rest, an urge to pray for a situation. When I finally texted the person I needed to speak to the next day, it was confirmed: they had needed prayer, and there was no doubt the Holy Spirit was both prompting me to pray, as well as reach out. That night, four people came to Christ. I was left with a feeling of humbled awe—the Lord of all creation would use me in a small piece of His redemptive story to show His great love. Then, a couple of days later, I was annoyed with something and made a point to express my opinion. In that situation, I said my thoughts, leaving with a bitter taste in my mouth. My comment did nothing to help the situation. Even worse, my husband (who tends to be a steady guide for me) cautioned me against saying anything. Did I listen? No. I felt my opinion was too important and went in, verbal guns blazing.

What’s the difference between these two scenarios? I’ve wrestled with this for the majority of the day, and come to two conclusions: 1) pride, and 2) the Holy Spirit’s guidance. When are comments helpful and productive, and when are they destructive and divisive?

I’ve been on the side of not following the Holy Spirit’s promptings: knowing I need to reach out to someone and not doing it, finding out later they needed encouragement and I didn’t reach out. I’ve also been on the side of saying something I shouldn’t, feeling guilt and remorse. And, in the most beautiful of scenarios, I’ve been able to see God work through His timing when I respond to His perfect promptings. How are we supposed to know the difference? What does that look like in real life?

There’s only one conclusion I can come to: prayer and discernment, coupled with trusted guidance. Ironically, it’s not a step-by-step process, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: when I move in the Spirit, I have life and peace. When I move in the flesh it’s destruction. The fruit of the Sprit is “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:23). If I’m honest about some of my reactions, I lack self-control. And, when I react out of my flesh, I experience the opposite of peace. However, when I follow the Holy Spirit, the by-product is an inexplicable peace, a rightness in my world, and a humility at how great God is. What should I do? Pray before I speak, and if it’s an issue that may need to be addressed, seek wise counsel. (Imagine a world where we all thought before we spoke or commented! How many conflicts could be avoided?!) When I pray, wait and listen, and—if needed—seek counsel, results are different.

I wish I had a formula for Christian life. I wish I had a guideline of when to speak, and when not to speak. Yet, God doesn’t give us that magical solution. What He does give is His Holy Spirit. It’s in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). I find myself wondering: if God gave me a simple formula, would I need Him? If He gave me the boxes to check, would I rely on His guidance? I don’t think so, honestly. I would probably rely on my own self sufficiency and ability to fulfill a set of guidelines. What am I left with? I’m left with the mess of a rule-following perfectionist personality who will never be able to follow rules perfectly. I fail. I sin. Enter the beauty of the gospel and the work Jesus accomplished: the good news that I don’t have to figure out this life on my own, I don’t have to do it perfectly. He did it for me. It’s the inexplicable mystery of God’s grace that humbles me. He uses sinful humans in His redemptive purposes, creating a dependence on Him that we couldn’t find on our own. I pray I learn from my mistakes, accept the grace I’m given, and move forward in a dependence on the Holy Spirit to share the gospel of Jesus, in whom we live and move and have our being.


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