7 Things To Remember When Discerning What God is Saying When Emotions are Involved:
Last week I shared an embarrassing failure when it came to trying to share a faith-filled prophetic word. This week, I wanted to share some guidelines that will hopefully be helpful when trying to discern what God is saying when emotions are involved.
- 1. Whenever emotions are involved be extra careful. Strong emotions do not mean they are God’s emotions. Take your time to ask God about a situation. Don’t rush into giving someone a word.
Many years ago, Mark and I were spending a morning with some friends who were wondering about where their next steps were. Where they should be moving. Mark and I agreed to spend some time praying with them about the situation, and we knew they were excited about a potential job offer in another part of the world. We could feel the strong emotion of excitement about the idea, and shared with them that we felt that was where they should be going. It never worked out for them. We did say we might be wrong, and there was no harm done - they were mature enough to weigh any feelings we might have, but nevertheless we got carried away by the emotion of the situation. Looking back, it would have been much more helpful to step away for the situation, and not have rushed into sharing any feelings we might have.
- 2. Be prepared to hear the answer you don’t want to hear, or rather, the opposite to your immediate reaction. If you aren’t prepared to hear the other answer, all you are stepping into is presumption, not faith. Faith is not shutting out other options, it is standing firm where you have peace in the middle of a storm.
As I shared in the last post, when I was pregnant with Kaleb, I really wanted a natural birth, and so I was unable to consider in my mind the idea of a C-section. I refused to go to visit the hospital beforehand (it wouldn't be necessary) and I kept praying and trying to stand on promises like 'delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart' etc. I never once thought that a C-section could be part of God's plan. I think I would have had a lot more peace at the time had I been willing to hear God's words of peace to me for that time. A year later, I did discover perhaps some of God's reason for allowing the C-section which you can read about here.
- 3. When in doubt, ask for confirmation from God. Ask Him to confirm what He is saying with a Bible passage for example. As well, I often ask God to show me a picture of what is going on, because it means I start off neutrally in my mind rather than being guided by my emotions.
Last year one of my close friends was pregnant and was threatening to miscarry. Obviously, due to past experience, I was VERY cautious about prophesying anything when we were praying about the situation and I told them that. I asked God to give me a picture of what was going on, and I had a very clear vision in my head of arrows being thrown at a womb but a baby totally safe on the inside. This was accompanied by an inexplicable peace. I actually waited to share the word because of the caution I felt, but when someone else shared a similar picture they had, I did speak up. That friend went on to have her baby at full term last year.
- 4. Seek accountability and wisdom from others. Ask other people to prayerfully consider what God is saying about the situation and see if they line up, but being aware in an emotionally charged situation, everyone is going to be finding it harder to hear God’s voice.
I have been in situations with our team here where everyone has felt similar things when praying together about an emotional situation, and confirmation has come through God speaking separately to different individuals in different ways (dreams, outsiders, God speaking in someone's quiet time etc...) But I have also been in highly emotionally charged situations where people who are normally on target regarding prophetic words have been off because they too have been affected emotionally by the situation. If confirmation is needed, and it is possible to ask for wisdom and confirmation from others, see if you can find people who are not going to be emotionally involved in the situation (or who know nothing about it!) to speak into it. If you feel you have a word to give and you are not sure if you should give it or not, find someone to be accountable with and ask them to pray with you and help you discern your motives to see if they are pure, and find a way to offer the word humbly if it is given.
- 5. Offer any words with humility. Saying ‘I think God might be saying...’ is not a lack of faith, but rather a recognition that giving people prophetic words is a responsibility that needs to be handled with humility and care and remembering we prophecy in part (1 Corinthians 14). People need to be free to reject any words that don’t ‘fit’ for them and you need to give them permission to do this. This means you have to separate your identity from any word you give too.
We need to see ourselves like waiters - we take the prophetic word from the kitchen to the customer. (I don't take credit for this analogy, but I can't remember where I heard it!) We don't get involved and we don't take responsibility for whether the word is acted on or not, just as a waiter who told his customers what and how to eat would quickly lose his job. We instead, humbly and with as little fuss as possible, present what we feel God is saying, and leave the receiver to take or leave the word.
- 6. Be aware that God does use emotions and empathy to move us to pray and give words to people. They are a useful part of the prophetic, but they shouldn’t be the driving seat of any words you give. (See previous blogpost on ‘When Emotions take the Wheel...’)
God is an emotional God. He does move us at times to feel how He is feeling about a situation. Emotions can be great to wake us up to things going on in the spiritual realm. I have learned now that I often feel incredible discouraged just before a breakthrough, so those emotions now alert me to pray and push through, expecting victory. Sometimes I feel empathy for someone and I use those feelings to help me pray passionately into a situation. Those emotions are not the guide, but rather encouragements to push through and draw closer to God.
- 7. Look for a strong guiding peace. The Bible says that there is a peace which will guard our hearts and minds in Christ. A peace that surpasses understanding. It's a confidence that you don't know why, but you have. Obviously, this must be weighed with the other things formentioned, but those times when I have given 'risky' words and been right, I have had an accompanying peace when God was speaking to me about the situation, even if I have been nervous to share the words with others. Sometimes, we just have to be accountable, be humble, and be prepared to be wrong, and go for it! Because, truely, I would rather step out and try and be wrong and learn, than never grow in hearing God's voice.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy
- 1 Corinthians 14:1
What helps you to discern God's voice when emotions are involved?
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