Times When I’m Comfortable Trusting My Feelings and “Impressions” to Know the Will of God

I want to begin this post by affirming without question my absolute belief in the inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture. I also want to challenge you to read to the end of this post so you understand my point.

There have been times when I’ve just “sensed” what I’ve needed to do, but without a specific, clear biblical text that says, “Do this in this situation”—like, for example, when my wife and I have made ministry moves. Even my calling to preach, about which I’ve written here, came from my sense that God had uniquely grabbed my attention.  I’ve learned to trust those feelings and impressions, but with these parameters in place:

  1. When I’m faithfully reading the Word. That is, I’m not talking about just opening the Bible for the first time in months just because I need direction. That’s a dangerous approach—but, regularly, consistently, deeply reading the Word does allow us to hear God. We grow in wisdom as the Lord transforms us through His Word.
  2. When prayer is in my DNA. If I never talk to God unless I have a need, my prayer life doesn’t reflect a strong relationship with Him; it suggests I see Him as only a divine “vending machine” to meet my needs when I can’t meet them myself. That kind of communication with God doesn’t facilitate hearing Him well.
  3. When I’m careful in my interpretation of the Word. My primary concern is that I’m not coming up with my own private, untested interpretation. If I’m the first person in all of church history to reach my conclusion about a text to support my decision, I need to reconsider my thinking.
  4. When I’m not making decisions alone. God created us to be in relationship with others (Gen 2:18), and those relationships—when they are godly—help guard us against our own oft-deceived heart. Numerous times, I’ve said to trusted friends, “I’m thinking in this direction,” and they’ve helped me evaluate my leanings.
  5. When I’m not living in ongoing sin. We can’t be trusting God, and we certainly can’t trust ourselves, when we’re living in rebellion. On what basis would we trust our feelings about the unknown when we’re not even faithful to the things we clearly do know?
  6. When I know myself well enough to read my heart honestly. This one’s really hard, as our hearts apart from Christ are desperately sick (Jer 17:9). I’ve found it easier to read my own heart, though, when I’m doing all the things above. The Spirit of God through the Word of God has a way of unpeeling our heart to show us our realities.
  7. When I’m seeking to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength(Mark 12:30). When I’m longing to love God and follow Him completely, I can trust His work in my heart and emotions.

So, what’s my point of this post? It’s not to raise the significance of relying on our feelings and impressions to follow God. Rather, it’s to remind us that relying on them apart from walking deeply with God is risky indeed. 



  • Bill Pitcher says:

    Glad you made that so very plain. Far too many “follow their heart” when none–of very few–of the parameters you mention are in place.

  • Neil Norheim says:

    Seeking God is more than looking for direction, protection, guidance or insight. This strategic seeking with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength includes a predetermined choice of being obedient to Him. That means I must come with a willingness to be obedient even before I find out what He may be requiring me to do next. Like the rebellion that you mention, I must honestly ask if I am being obedient to what I already know to be His Will before I seek something else. Often I must hear the word of Jeremiah that reminds me that my heart can be deceitful above all things. I am my own biggest obstacle to discovering who God Almighty is and has been for eternity. I remind myself that there must be consistency in who He is and who He wants me to be. THANK YOU FOR YOUR REMINDERS.

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