Discernment is critical to an effective prayer life. It enables us to determine what is of God and what is not. I mean, who wants to be deceived or disillusioned? Deception comes when Satan fools me, and disillusionment comes when I can’t tell the difference.
As I go forth in my life’s faith journey, I want to understand whether God is shutting a door or if the enemy is working against me. When I can discern which is what, then I know how to pray.
Here is a real-life example:
My daughter, Kallie, signed up to go to Greece for a study-abroad program. I went with her to an informational meeting, took notes, and insured she hit all of her deadlines. This trip had nothing to do with spiritual matters, but was more about adding to her academic resume. When she went to check in on her status, her name was not on the list! Unfortunately, Kallie had failed to register online correctly; therefore, she was ineligible to study abroad for that semester.
She was greatly disappointed. I consoled Kallie by telling her that when in life you are doing your best to do what you think you should be doing, but things still do not work out, it may very well be God saying No. With that, she handled her disappointment and moved on.
Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Acts 16:6
Fast-forward to summer. Kallie signed up for multiple summer internships and was offered one on the west coast, far from us. Once there, she had terrible anxiety attacks. Because she has typically been a homebody it was a miracle that she accepted this internship and even got on the plane. God was surely directing her steps.
She really wanted to come home, but we both knew that God had placed her there, and she had to stay. She told me that when she returned home, she would never leave the Tennessee/Kentucky area again.
As I was thinking about this conversation a couple of days later, I recalled her failed attempt to go to Greece. Surely that was God Who had removed that opportunity. For had she traveled to Greece, she more than likely would have had the same bouts of anxiety and likely vowed to never leave home again, eliminating her attempt for a summer internship, and that precious place God has her right now.
So, here’s what I think…
When we are carrying on life, doing all we know to do like my girl Kallie, and opportunities disappear, we would do well to pay attention to the direction God may leading us anew.
It is when God is leading us to do something specific, and hindrances come that we can know for certain that it is the enemy at work. That is when we must dig in our heels and resolve to complete the task given no matter what Satan throws in our way.
Now when the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set out resolutely to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51
Can you see the difference between the two? How have you been able to tell when it is God closing a door?
Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and the Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. If you would like to schedule Gina to speak on prayer or host a prayer journaling workshop, click here for more information. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.
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