I’ve written before on the general topic of “Ask God to Tell You?” What triggered this new post was an instruction I read for making an Oikos map. I’d not heard of an Oikos map. (Note: I’m not criticizing this map idea itself. It seems a helpful tool. You’re just writing down names of family/friends who need the Lord, and this “map” becomes a reminder to pray for them. My own version of this has been a mini photo album I carry all the time.) The Oikos instruction said, “Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you whose names to write down.” That’s what stopped me. Wait. Do I not know the names of family and friends who either don’t know the Lord or need prayer in some other way? Is something wrong with my mind?
So I did an online search of “ask the Holy Spirit to tell you.” Oh my. All sorts of instructions came up. Like these below. My responses are in brackets:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you that the Bible is true.
[Whoa! That’s how Mormons are instructed to know that the Book of Mormon is true. The idea is that they will feel a warm fuzzy in their hearts. One criticizer of this sort of request described it as pulling rank on the Holy Spirit. I took that to mean that studying the evidence for the Bible is a nuisance for us, so we just demand to be told outright. No, we need to research the vast evidence for the Bible, not only for ourselves but also to be able to present that hard evidence to unbelieving friends. The average person will not (and should not!) believe the Bible and accept the Lord merely because you felt all tingly.]
- Read a Scripture passage and ask the Holy Spirit what he’s teaching you.
[So … when we read in the Bible “obey his commands” or “cast all your anxiety on him,” we don’t comprehend it? Hmm. At the store do we read the instructions on (or ingredients in) products and ask the Holy Spirit to tell us what they mean? Perhaps the idea behind the instruction is that we might be reading a very obscure Bible passage, like, “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19). Or, “Put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece” (28:30). Still, we have the ability to dig in and study more, which would also keep us in the Word more.]
- “Ask the Spirit to tell you what to pray.” The online instruction also said that, first, you ask the Spirit to “escort” you to the Father. You ask the Spirit to give you the thoughts and words … and also to do the praying for you.
[My weird sense of humor had me picturing the Holy Spirit in a butler’s uniform as my “escort”! In fairness, the promoters may be tangling the Romans 8:26 idea about times when we’re completely overwhelmed, don’t know how to pray, and the Holy Spirit intercedes. But the online instructions don’t match up with that verse. And read Romans 8 carefully—the entire chapter. The whole New Testament has multiple passages on how/what to pray.]
- Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you ways in which you’ve grieved or rejected him. The instruction went on to imply that if you left anything unrepented, you’d be separated from his power.
[Yes, we need to repent. But it’s a step too far that there periodically must be/will be direct revelation in which the Lord lists every infraction for us. If we’re in the Scriptures, we know what constitutes sin, failure, etc. While we sometimes may deliberately ignore our disobedience/failures, surely we don’t have regular amnesia. I couldn’t help feeling, too, that the sincere believer who buys into that instruction might find himself in a perpetual state of fear. You know, a near paranoia that maybe he inadvertently failed to repent of, say, slip-up #11 but can’t quite recall what it was—and the Lord is waiting to pounce. The dear Lord is not like that!]
- Ask the Holy Spirit to tell you who to share his love with this week.
[Really? “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27, 28). “Love each other” (John 15:12). “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11) …]
- A book called Come Near to God (author Schievelbein) seemed to suggest that parents and grandparents ask the Holy Spirit whether a particular toy/game in a store was pleasing/safe for the children. I “looked inside” at only a few pages of this book, but it described how you could even have fun with this by deliberately going to Halloween-type items that would have occult implications and asking God whether each was pleasing to him. It seemed he was to answer on each … and that you, by practicing this sort of thing, would increase your ability to perceive the Holy Spirit’s answers. You could even—and I quote—“ask the Holy Spirit to tell you which demons are in the objects.” Apparently the same techniques could be applied not only to objects but also to specific books.
[I wonder what Scriptures are supposed to back up that plan? And if you are a student of the Word and are trusting the Lord to guide and help you stay on his path, this sort of divination would be unnecessary anyway. I mean, you wouldn’t choose a demonic-looking thing and hope the Holy Spirit would OK it in spite of the obvious concerns. Though, granted, it probably feels magical and spiritually superior to look at a game/book cover of skulls, blood, and vultures and ask the Holy Spirit to name for you a demon inhabiting the pages.]
Bottom line: The scenarios above involve seeking information that we already know (or have the ability to know). As was mentioned in the piece linked to at the top of this post, we’re confusing wisdom with knowledge. Not to mention muddling the Lord’s way of doing things.