I Prayed About It (And I Don’t Feel Convicted To Cover)
Many years ago I read a letter from a Christian teen who revealed that he recently became intimate with his girlfriend. He said that he had been genuinely wrestling with if he should or should not, so he decided to pray about it. Like Gideon, he asked God to make his will clear, “God if she asks to come over tonight, I’ll know you’re okay with us having sex. If she doesn’t, I’ll know you’re against it.” Later that night he receives a call from his girlfriend asking to come over and the teenage boy ends up sleeping with her under a false sense of permission due to what he believes is an answered prayer. While that’s an extreme (but real) example, many of us have used his method for determining God’s will with other issues. In this article I’d like to show why we should not let our decisions be made by prayer, if we’re given direct and clear instructions in Scripture.
The Authoritative Scriptures
The Bible says that:
“no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
The words of Scripture are not men’s opinions. Men were the instruments used to speak “from God” by the Holy Spirit’s direction. So when we read Paul, James or Luke in the Bible, their instructions are just as authoritative as if they came from the mouth of Jesus or were uttered by God on Mount Sinai. The black letters in our Bibles carry the same authority as the red letters. 1) In some Bibles the words of Jesus are put in red while the rest of the words of Scripture are in black.
Again the Scriptures say:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim 3:16)
The Scriptures are “breathed out by God” (ESV) or “inspired by God” (NASB) so when we read Scripture, we’re reading what God says. This means if the Bible tells us to do (or not do) something then we hold that up as authoritative. God will not give a different answer by prayer.
The teenage boy mentioned at the beginning didn’t need to pray about his decision since God already answered his question in the pages of Scripture. God only has one message for him and that’s “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18). If we believe God has given us a different answer to our prayer, we are being deceived. We are warned “let no one deceive himself” (1 Cor 3:18) and that our enemy Satan is a deceiver (Rev 12:9). What we believe is God’s answer to our prayers is subjective 2) Feeling peace, conviction or a sense of direction is subjective. It could be from God, but it may not be. Because of this it needs to be subject to higher authority which can correct it if necessary. That’s the Bible. and therefore it must be anchored to the authority of God’s Word. Just recently I had two Mormon missionaries over to discuss our faiths. They told me they knew Mormonism is true because they prayed about it and God answered their prayer by giving them peace or a “burning in their bosom”. These young men had a (false) confidence that Mormonism was true because they believed God had answered their prayer. Their confidence was placed in a subjective feeling or experience rather than the unchanging authority of God’s Word. See, we don’t need to pray to see if Joseph Smith 3) The founder and prophet of Mormonism. To learn more I recommend The Bible vs. Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I have been asked by Mormons if I would do that for myself, but that’s not something I’ll be doing. Joseph Smith’s revelations contradict what God has said in Scripture, so I know that he is not from God. So if we have a question, we consult the Bible first, and if it gives a clear answer then we should not seek a different one through prayer. We’re told that “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Num 23:19) and He says of Himself “I the LORD do not change” (Mal 3:6). So we need to have a firm conviction that God will not command one thing in the Bible but tell us something completely different through prayer.
I’ve heard from numerous women who no longer practice head covering. The top reason given for their decision to stop is that they prayed about it and they weren’t convicted that they need to cover anymore. Many women likewise use this method for deciding if they should begin this practice. If they feel conviction, they will. If they don’t, they won’t. This is not how we should make decisions on topics that are dealt with directly and clearly in the Bible. God gives instructions about head covering in 1 Corinthians 11, so He’s not going to tell us anything different then what He has already said. His answer is “let her cover her head” (1 Cor 11:6). Now don’t get me wrong, if we’re having trouble understanding the meaning of a Scripture, we are told to pray for wisdom (James 1:5). So I’m not saying don’t pray when in doubt. What I am saying is our decision making should be made based on our understanding of what God has said in Scripture, not our subjective feelings. So if you believe based on a study of 1 Corinthians 11 that a woman’s long hair is the only covering needed, that’s a good reason to not wear a veil (though we’d strongly disagree.) But praying about it and not feeling conviction is a dangerous reason for disregarding something the Word of God tells you to do. I hope that when it comes to headcovering, that we make our decisions based on God’s word. If we bypass that step or elevate a perceived answer to prayer above His Word, we are liable to being deceived.
- We should be mindful that we can be deceived by our own flesh and/or Satan.
- If the Holy Spirit tells us one thing in the Bible, He will not tell us something different through prayer.
- Feeling conviction, a sense peace or any other perceived answer to prayer is subjective. It must be subject to the authority of God’s Word.
- If the Bible speaks directly and clearly to an issue, our decision making should be based off our understanding of what God has said.
- If the Bible doesn’t speak directly and/or clearly to an issue, we should pray for wisdom and direction.