This week I spent a morning in prayer and as part of that I prayed that I and our church would be “led by the Spirit.” Its clear from Scripture that being led by the Spirit is pretty fundamental to being a disciple. Just look at these verses
- “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10).
- “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
- “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14). “
- He carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed
Almost as soon as I had prayed those words, a thought came to my mind, “WILL YOU LET ME BE YOUR LEADER?”
I am going to assume that was from the Holy Spirit. Maybe He had to ask me that question because I had never really framed my prayer that way before. When I have prayed to be “led by the Spirit” it’s been to ask for help in making decisions, it’s been about my agenda. The Holy Spirit’s question to me was about this issue of control and agenda. The Holy Spirit was reminding me that to be led by the Spirit you must be committed to allowing the Spirit to be your leader. Being led by the Spirit isn’t about getting some supernatural wisdom about difficult decisions you face- Being led by the Spirit is about knowing what the Spirit wants and doing it, its about living for His agenda not ours.
The theology is relatively easy to understand but its not simple to live, is it? How do we surrender to the Spirit’s leadership in our life?
Two thoughts came to my mind the European Football Championship and sailing, OK so as a theologian I am not up there with Karl Barth on profundity but stick with me.
I am not really a football fan, but Ann watched a couple of games and I watched along. What really caught my attention was the supporters rather than the players. The supporters of one team would shout out encouragement and of course what the players should do next. The opposition supporters would shout what I will euphemistically call “discouragement” and that they wanted players to miss goals etc.
Although its not a perfect analogy it struck me that seeking to be led by the Spirit is a bit like being one of those footballers in a big game. We will hear opposition voices that will attempt to discourage us and urge us to do the wrong thing. The New Testament describes these opposition voices as Satan, the world and the flesh, our evil foe, the values of our culture and our own inbuilt propensity to independence and self love.
The voice seeking to encourage us and telling us what our next move should be is of course the Holy Spirit. I was thinking that rather than being just like one of the crowds, we should think of Him as like the football manager. He’s devised the plan, he’s given us instruction beforehand about his tactics ( Scripture) and then he shouts encouragement and what we need to do fulfill His plan.
So the way to be led by the Spirit is in the cacophony of noise in our world to identify and listen to our leader (manager) and to screen out those other voices that seek to discourage us or make us do the wrong thing.
Well repentance and surrender have to be the foundation. Until we turn our back on things that are working against the will of God (sin) and express our desire to follow God’s will instead, we won’t hear the voice of the Spirit and so can’t be led by the Spirit.
I am sure that this will come as no big surprise but its still a big challenge, being led by the Spirit must involve prayer and fasting. There is no route to being led by the Spirit that doesn’t come through committed and regular focused prayer.
I was watching the sail boats on Lake Geneva last week, the crews were working hard to set the sails to harness the power of the wind. That’s what spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, and Scripture reading do, they help us to harness the power of the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit. Prayer, fasting, Scripture reading and fellowship with other believers helps us hear the voice of the Spirit and be empowered by the Spirit to do what He says.
We need to constantly remind ourselves the Church that experienced the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2 and then was empowered and led by the Spirit through the rest of Acts, was the church that had been devoted to prayer in Acts 1 and continued to be devoted to prayer.
Reflecting and thinking about all of this I came across a quote I had written down from a book by David Young which challenged me about being led by the Spirit. I am going to end with it in the hope that it encourages and challenges you too:
“In fact, it’s possible that one reason why many of us rarely experience signs, wonders, and powers in our lives is because we don’t seriously pray, fast, or take great risks of faith for Christ. Powerful experiences are regular occurrences for those who take great risks, who fast intensely, who pray day and night—for those who are so deeply immersed in the Spirit that they become wholly unconcerned with what the world might think. IF YOU LIVE A SPIRITUALLY BORING LIFE, YOU WILL GET SPIRITUALLY BORING RESULTS. But when you stick out your neck for Christ, seasoned by prayer and fasting, you will see more and more signs, wonders, and powers. It just grows more for those who are increasingly led by the Spirit of God.” David Young,. Holy Spirit: Filled, Empowered, and Led