||Think about what
I am saying. The Lord will give you understanding in
all these things. (2 Timothy 2:7)
It is no fun having your deranged ‘employer’
throwing spears at you! On the run from King Saul,
David lost the plot and joined forces with the
Philistines. The time came when he was called upon
to fight against his fellow Israelites. It was at
this crucial moment that the commander of the
Philistine army intervened, questioning his loyalty
and sending him away.
It is a supreme example of the Lord’s overruling.
While he was away, David’s home town was overrun by
raiders. His wives and children were taken away –
and, as if that were not enough, his own men were so
desperate that they were speaking of stoning him.
At this terrible moment, when fear and despair could
so easily have shut out the Still Small Voice, David
‘found strength in the Lord.’
No phrase better
conveys the depths of his relationship with the
Lord. Here is a man so used to quieting his soul
that he is able to discern God’s strategy, even
under such intense pressure.
My mind goes back to a man on a Pacific island, who
heard the Lord telling him to cross the island and
leave. He arrived at the port just in time to catch
the last steamer out before the Japanese invaded the
Or the Christians in a town in Denmark during the
Second World War who were warned through a prophecy
to be out of town on a certain day. It turned out to
be the very day the Gestapo raided the town. There
is nothing theoretical about cultivating the art of
Dr Pierson once
visited a minister who had been in hospital for six
long months. The doctor ventured to suggest that God
might have permitted this illness as the only means
by which He could cause this busy man to listen more
to Him. He had hardly left the hospital before the
Lord caught up with him: ‘You too have been too
active for Me, and have not taken enough time to be
occupied with Me.’ This experience made such an
impression on Dr Pierson that he later wrote:
resolved to practice what I preached. At the close
of each day, I sit for one hour in the quiet of my
study, not to speak to the Lord, but to lay the
day’s life and work open to the Lord’s penetrating
gaze and appraisal, and to listen to what He has to
say to me.
Even if we cannot
devote anything like a whole hour to it, the great
benefit of attempting such a review is that it gives
us a second chance to ponder the events of the day,
and to pick up on the nudges that the Lord has sent
out way. We can ‘replay’ them, as if we were
watching them pass before our eyes on a video. Then,
as opportunities we have missed, or unkind words
that we have uttered come to mind, we can ‘press the
pause button’ and attend to the issues the Lord is
As we make time to reflect, words that people have
spoken return to our memory. Words of encouragement
that confirm we are on the right path; or words of
warning that save us from error – half-warnings
even, that we might have missed had we been too
engrossed in our own affairs.
Many people find keeping a journal aids this process
of reflection. Rather than recording just the
outward events, it will prove richer if we can
include fuller details of how we believe the Lord is
leading us. Such reflection enables us to trace
patterns and to discern links where before we might
have seen only isolated events.
Turning sight into insight
‘Daniel, I have
come to give you insight and understanding.’ (Daniel
The first time I drove up the ‘Atlantic highway’ on
the west coast of Devon, I glimpsed large radar
dishes. They reminded me how serious the issue of
cyber warfare has become. Dedicated organizations
hack into top security computers, passing on highly
sensitive information to potentially hostile powers.
In the wrong hands, this information could be used
not only to replicate weapons systems, but even
potentially, to paralyze vital communications
systems. Since cyber warfare is sure to play a
significant (perhaps a determining) role in any
future world conflict, this is an appropriate topic
to take up in prayer.
The Lord has many ways of alerting us to things that
are on His heart. As I was walking down a cobbled
street in a Devonian village a few minutes later, I
heard a mother calling her child. I instantly felt
prompted to pray for someone of that name. I rang
her a few hours later, as I usually try to do when I
sense such leadings, and found that there was indeed
a pressing reason why the Lord had put her on my
I also find that God uses ‘look-alikes’ as one of
His ways to call me to pray. For a fleeting moment,
some passer-by reminds me in a certain profile of
someone else I know. I take it as a pointer to pray
for the person I am reminded of. On other occasions
a certain make or colour of a car serves to remind
me of someone who drives a similar model.
Do such ‘coincidences’ really come from God? I find
that in perhaps three-quarters of such instances
there is an immediate reason why these people have
been brought to mind.
More than we realize at the time, our prayers may be
paving the way for the Spirit to open something up
for them – or to protect them from some danger. In
any case: how can anything but good come from
praying for them?
Even fleeting thoughts may correspond to someone’s
real need. My car broke down in a motorway service
station once, when I was on my way to spend a
weekend with some friends, who were following on an
hour or two behind me. As they approached the
service station, one of them had the thought,
‘Perhaps Robert has broken down in there.’
Unfortunately, he pushed it aside, and had to drive
a long way back later on to pick me up!
The Lord uses not only words but also sights, sounds
and even smells to trigger associations that lead to
prayer and action – or simply to bring comfort. As I
was wheeled into hospital theatre for a rather
unpleasant operation, I distinctly smelt the
reassuring wood-fire smoke of our favourite cottage
in the Lake District.
On another occasion, after hearing a distressing
report about someone who means a lot to us, our
bedroom was suddenly invaded by the distinct
fragrance of lilies, reminding us of the lilies that
surround his apartment. On these two occasions at
least, the Still Small Voice became the Sweet
Many of the clearest nudges I receive come while I
am writing. It is as though the Holy Spirit is
alerting me by sending me the equivalent of an
A few come with such urgency that I feel the need to
drop everything and pray. Normally, I just make a
note of them, and resolve to return to them later.
For Reflection and Prayer
I need to be careful not to get so carried away with
the fact that the Lord is sharing something with me
that I forget to take it up properly later on.
help us to recognize it is no coincidence when
You bring people to our minds. Help us to remain a
while longer in Your presence, in case You have more
to say to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The real prophets
of our day are those who can perceive what is
happening in modern society, see where it will lead
us, and give a value judgment upon it . . . We
should not just absorb facts, but think about their
significance. (Richard Foster)
I was walking past a shopping mall the other day,
when I felt the Lord saying in my heart:
a generation that has all but forgotten Me. It has
everything it wants, but it does not know or honour
Me. These are the Temples they have made – and they
will take the consequences.’
Scripture is clear
that God judges cities and nations according to the
opportunities they have been given.
We in the West have espoused wrong priorities, and
made Mammon more important than devotion to the
Almighty. We have acted as if any deity were His
equal, and as though God’s laws were an impediment
to be avoided, rather than a structure on which to
base our society.
With little understanding of the spiritual laws of
sowing and reaping, let alone of God’s holiness,
more and more anti-Christian policies are being
implemented in western nations. Combined with the
increasingly ‘politically correct’ climate that
causes people to impose their own self-censorship,
these measures constitute a real threat to the
distinctive Christian voice in our nation.
God is raising up many prayer warriors as a shield
for our prodigal continent, but let us be under no
illusion: judgment has already begun, and we need to
continue fervent in prayer and repentance. We are on
the thinnest of ice as a continent.
we recognize that we entirely merit Your judgment.
We cry out to You that we, who know You, may respond
in such a way that this work of judgment may yet
prove redemptive rather than purely destructive –
and that You may be more merciful to us than we
deserve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I will give you
what you asked for! I will give you a wise and
understanding mind. (1 Kings 3:12)
God is interested in everything that happens, and
through His Still Small Voice He interprets matters
to us. When Stephen Parker conducted a survey of how
believers made their decisions, however, he noted a
heavy preponderance of what we might call
None of the people he interviewed mentioned any
example of being directed into public, social or
political actions. This has nothing to do with the
Lord not wanting us to take an active interest or
involvement in these fields; it is more a sign that
we are in great danger of ‘privatizing’ the Still
As we seek the Lord’s strategy for our lives, our
churches and our communities, we may well find
ourselves praying for people groups, regions and
nations with as much longing as we have for matters
closer to home and heart.
Such an attitude worries the powers of darkness, who
promptly set out to try to neutralize the danger.
They may, for example, try to lull us into believing
that we are doing all right as we are. If they can
succeed in nurturing complacency, we will see little
need to reach out for the more that God has in store
for us. Alternatively, the enemy reverts to brute
force, trying to make us believe that the task we
are facing is so far beyond our abilities and
resources tat we may as well abandon it altogether.
If that does not work, they may try to fool us into
thinking that listening to the Still Small Voice
will make us too heavenly minded to be of any
earthly use in a technologically complex society.
Let us start by restating something that ought to be
self-evident, but which often gets forgotten or
ignored, and that is that the Lord wants to speak
about wider issues. A substantial proportion of our
ministry has been spent in providing informed
intercessory insights to help people pray about
world events. We have directed people’s focus far
and wide – not because any one person or group could
possibly respond to all the information we send out
but rather on the basis that the Lord can, at any
moment, ‘harness’ what they have read, and turn it
into heart-felt prayer.
For Reflection and Prayer
surely as the Bible teacher waits on the Lord
to discover what passage of Scripture to expound,
so may we listen to You, Father,
about the things we are involved in –
and about the things that are happening in our day.
We lift to You now especially . . .
The more we
develop the art of reflection, the more likely we
are to discern the specific spiritual influences
that are at work in churches, situations and
Wherever Jesus went, He wrestled to set men’s souls
free from the various miseries that were
overwhelming them. He saw in His Spirit the battle
that had to be fought against the powers of
darkness, and He was fully aware of strongholds
embodied in certain people and places.
The warfare was at its most intense in Jerusalem,
where the religious leaders had espoused the
dangerous assumption that when the Messiah came,
they would be the ones who would be offered star
billing in His Kingdom. How insulted they must have
felt by Jesus’ declaration that the first would be
last, and the last first.
The Scribes and Pharisees had seen many things that
should have melted their hearts – but religious
pride had rendered the Still Small Voice inaudible
to their ears. That is why they felt nothing but
anger and jealousy when people were helped and
healed. The Lord was grieved at their hard hearts.
He denounced them as hypocrites, and declared that
they would be excluded from God’s Kingdom purposes.
Their critical spirit made it all but impossible for
them to acknowledge the Messiah they professed to be
In C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew Aslan
has just sung creation into being, but Digory’s
reprehensible uncle is as incapable of appreciating
the wonder of a new land being born as the Pharisees
were of honouring the Lord Jesus.
great moment came and the Beasts spoke, he missed
the whole point. When the
Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was
still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was
a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It
made him think and feel things he did not want to
think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw
that the singer was a lion (‘only a lion,’ as he
said to himself), he tried his hardest to make
believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been
singing – only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in
our own world. And the longer and more beautifully
the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make
himself believe that he could hear nothing but
Now the trouble about trying to make yourself
stupider than you really are is that you very often
succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing
but roaring in Aslan’s song. And when at last the
Lion spoke and said, ‘Narnia awake,’ he didn’t hear
any words: he heard only a snarl. And when the
Beasts spoke in answer, he heard only barkings,
growlings, bayings and howlings.
serious ‘woes’ against the Scribes and Pharisees in
Matthew 23, because words of love would not have
even begun to convey to them the seriousness of
their situation. A woe is the opposite of a
blessing. It is more like a curse.
Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s house did not blind Him
to the consequences of what He was doing. He knew
fell well when he knotted a rope and drove the money
lenders out of the Temple that, when they had
recovered from their humiliation, the religious
leaders would pursue Him to death.
Prayerful detective work often reveals patterns of
attack or abuse that are, to some degree at least,
satanically induced. When we realize what we are
really up against, we pray and fight harder. I
remember once ‘seeing’ an imp sitting astride a
computer that refused to work. When I commanded it
to go, the computer started working again. It was an
object lesson in spiritual warfare. As always,
discernment is vital. Computers also malfunction
when you type in wrong commands!
Something more sinister than mere human differences
is often at work when Christians fall out with one
another. The devil loves to stir people up to bring
false accusations against godly men and women. Paul
prayed that he, along with other leaders, might be
protected from evil
because he knew how easy it is for Satan to outwit
Evil is not an intellectual problem; it is a
spiritual one. For us, as for Jesus, a major part of
our work is not just helping to set individual
people free in their walk with the Lord, but
involving ourselves in the fight against systematic
Paul recognized the activities of demons within
human structures, but he did not make the mistake of
confusing social institutions with the demonic
Tom Marshall has seriously helpful things to say
about integrating faith, spiritual warfare and our
place of work.
He points out that corporations are not of
themselves either evil or godly; it is the decisions
they make, and the influences that are brought to
bear on them which bring businesses, governments and
churches under Godly or demonic spheres of
As we set out to serve the Lord in these
institutions, we will inevitably come up against
prejudices and vested interests. Spiritual
opposition then is all but inevitable. This is why
it is important to prepare carefully for the task
Just as Paul mobilized people to pray for him,
so we must set up networks of communication,
involving people who have a heart to see God
glorified in these places and organizations.
May the Lord use all who are seeking to make an
impact for Him in institutions. Why not lift such
people before the Lord now?
For Reflection and Prayer
to overcome evil, Lord –
not just by avoiding infringing specific laws,
but by honestly facing the things I need to face.
May no pressures from within or without
blunt my zeal for serving You.
May truth, humility and love
keep me from the evil one.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.