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The Still Small Voice by Robert Weston

The Art of
Loaded Questions

. . .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.’


The Art of Reflection

Weighted questions change our angle of approach

He who sacrifices thank-offerings honours Me, and prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:23)

When I look through the viewfinder of my camera, I sometimes sense that the balance of a picture does not look quite right. If I move a short distance and try another angle, it often lines up better.

It is rather like this in prayer. If we are not getting through on one track, it may be time to change the angle of our praying. Suppose that you have been praying for a long time for someone (or something) that is very dear to your heart. With the passing of time, such prayer can easily become less a matter of dynamic faith than of merely expressing our wishes – vocalizing our unbelief even.

Instead of coming in from ‘underneath’ what is clearly a protracted problem, try praying something like this: ‘Lord, thank You that You are far more concerned than I could ever be for . . . Even now You are looking for the best way to answer all these years of prayer. Thank You!’

Such an injection of gratitude refreshes our spirit, and restores us to an attitude of faith. What happens, though, when we feel as though we are getting no answer to questions that need answers, such as, ‘Lord should I do such and such today?’ The obvious thing to do then is to take the most sensible way forward and pray something like, ‘Ok, Lord, I’m planning to do this – is there any reason why I should not go ahead and do it?’

Take a simple example. You want to go to a meeting in a town and you don’t seem to be getting any answer to the question, ‘Should I go to it Lord?’ Well, you want to go, you have the time and money to go, (or, at least, you can make yourself free if you push!) so why not ‘frontload’ the question? ‘Lord, unless You show me differently, I’m going!’

Of course some might use this approach to make sure they always end up getting what they want. If we approach it in the right spirit, however, and with a willingness to accept any checks the Lord gives, ‘weighting’ questions in this way will often break the logjam and gets us moving again. After all, the Lord has promised that it is if we are in danger of going off course that we will hear a voice behind us saying, ‘This is the way walk in it.’ (Is. 30:21)

We may also fare much better if we approach God by looking up at Him in praise and worship,[10] rather than down at our faults and difficulties. Otherwise we may find ourselves getting stuck at confessing our failings and bewailing our predicaments – whether they be real or imaginary ones.

That is what looking away unto Jesus is all about. The other day, as I was confessing for the umpteenth time, the particular way in which I felt I had failed someone, the Lord cut across my muttering and told me to stop repenting. ‘Stop repenting, Lord? But surely repentance is the key to going deeper with You?’

‘It is, but there is a fine line between repentance and remorse – and you are in danger of stepping over it. Don’t you believe 1 John 1:9? If you keep on asking for forgiveness, instead of receiving it, all you are doing is expressing your unbelief. That just does the devil’s work for him. By the way, it is all but impossible to resent people you are praying for!’

For Reflection and Prayer

  Remorse does nothing to lift our spirits, let alone to bless anyone else. In the example I quoted above, the Lord went on to say, ‘Step out and bless the people you feel you have failed.’ Does that ring bells for you? Go ahead and try it.

Overcoming disappointment

I have noticed that many with an undoubted ability to hear the Still Small Voice never seem to develop the gift very far. Many become discouraged by the setbacks and crushings that that come their way.

A well-known leader challenged a friend of ours, who has a distinct prophetic edge, ‘How do you know the Lord speaks to you?’ Whatever the motive for asking the question, its effect was devastation, causing overwhelming doubts about my friend’s relationship with the Lord to set in – even to the point where she all but lost the desire just to sit and ask Him what He was doing.

Sensing that there was more to this than one isolated challenge, I dug deeper, and discovered a recurring pattern. When she was a teenager, she had begun to exercise a powerful healing ministry. Her best friend pleaded with her to stop doing something so intensely embarrassing. As happens all too often, fear of man won the day, and this precious ministry ground to an immediate halt.

The Lord prompted me next to ask about her birth. It turned out to have been traumatic and life-threatening. The physical squeezing mirrored the spiritual clampdown, and gave us a key to pray for fresh release.

If the enemy can succeed in denting our trust, it follows that we will hold back from using the authority the Lord has invested in us. Effectively, this relegates us to the spiritual sidelines. Trust and confidence are therefore central battlegrounds. Once disappointment finds a lodging in our heart, it plays a persistent refrain: ‘I’ve been here before; it didn’t work then, so what’s the point of trying again?’

  Disappointment is like a leak dripping through the roof. It seeps into our attic, where it strengthens into full-blown discouragement. Now decidedly polluted, the water seeps through the ceiling, and drips into the living spaces of our heart in various noxious and malodorous forms, promoting festering conditions such as self-pity, envy, bitterness, fear – and touchiness.  

Every one of these deadly foes is a leak that needs attention. Fail to take action, and these foul waters will pass through yet another floor until they become a stinking stagnant pool that floods the basement of our lives with their monstrous effluent: despair and cynicism.

This graphic image shows us just how important it is to give the Lord our hurts and disappointments at an earlier stage, before these mega foes of faith set in. once they have established a base in our hearts, we need a major operation to get living water flowing again, and to remove the polluted water.

What will it take to restore our cutting edge? Usually the ministry of others, combined with proactive faith on our part, and a willingness to forgive those who have dented our confidence.

For Reflection and Prayer

  Lord, when we, like the disciples, come down
from mountain top experiences, and are unable
to move mountains into the sea or set the epileptic free,
may we yield no foothold to discouragement.
God of the breakthrough,
we keep pursuing You;
turn these present disappointments . . .
into Your holy appointments,
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
10 Isaiah 30:21
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On to Chapter five part 3 - The Art of Reflection, When visions fade from view