God does everything by the Holy Spirit. People who speak on behalf of God or in the Name of God are called prophets. Their message is called “prophecy.” What makes a person a true prophet of God is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even so, the Bible warns the words of the prophets must be judged whether it is God’s word or not.
Among Christians on the internet “I asked God this, and God told me that” type of prophetic conversations have been in circulation for a long time. They function like devotionals, but are they from God upbulding the readers’ faith in the right direction?
Here is one in circulation for more than 10 years:
I asked God to take away my pride, and God said, “No.”
He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and He said, “No.”
He said his spirit is whole, but his body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience, and God said, “No.”
He said patience is a byproduct of tribulations. It isn’t granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness, and God said, “No.”
He said He gives blessings, happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain, and God said, “No.”
He said suffering draws me apart from worldly cares and brings me closer to Him.
I asked God to make my spirit grow, and God said, “No.”
He said I must grow on my own but He would prune me to make me fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life, but God said, “No.”
He said He gives me life, that I may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me.
And God said, “Ah, finally you have the idea.” Amen!!!
Now look what is going to happen when I give you the same conversation in a different way: The story is fiction. It never happened; I made it up to illustrate the point.
A man called me first and then visited me last week. He had heard about me and said, “Pastor, you love people, and you understand the heart of God, so I came to you for my needs.” I was elevated and excited so I asked “how can I help you?”
He said, “Can you help me, can you pray for me that God takes away my pride?”
I said, “No.” I said, “It is not up to God to take that away, but for you to give up.”
“OK,” he said. “If this is the rule of the game ... but I have another request.”
I said, “What is it?”
He said, “Can you and perhaps your elders come and pray for my handicapped child to be whole?”
I said, “No.” I said, “His spirit is whole, but his body is only temporary.”
“OK,” he said, “in that case I will have a different request. Since this handicapped child will stay with me for all my life, could you please pray to God for me that God may grant me patience?”
I said, “No.” I said, “Patience is a byproduct of tribulations. It isn’t granted, it is earned.”
“Ouch,” he said, “In this case maybe you may pray for me that God may give me happiness, would you?”
I said, “No.” I said, “God gives you blessings; happiness is up to you.”
“OK,” he said. “Well, I see that God does not give happiness, but you know now that my circumstances are pretty awful and I feel great amount of pain. Could you please pray to God for me that he may spare me pain?”
I said “No.” I said, “Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you to closer to God, and so it is very good for you. If you want I can pray that God may increase your suffering. Would you like me to do that? I’d be delighted to do that.”
He said, “Oh, it is very kind of you to think this way, but thank you, I think I am pretty close to God right now. But, you know, if this is so important would you please pray for me that my spirit grow, that I may grow spiritually. Would you pray for this?”
I said “No.” I said, “You must grow on your own but God would prune you to make you fruitful.”
“Even that is no,” he said. “Well, you are the pastor, you know these things. If you say so it is so, I trust you, but do you mind to pray to God for me that I may take my family for a summer vacation, I may buy them some new clothes, I may buy a new van that I can take my family around so that I might enjoy life, and my family too.?
I said, “No, God gives you life that you may enjoy all things.”
He looked exhausted which I never understood why, and then he asked me one more question.
“Pastor, could you please pray to God for me that God may help me to love others as much as God loves me?”
And I said, “Aha, finally you have the idea.”
I said, “Sure I can pray for you that God may help you to love others. Not only that I myself can help you to love others, let me tell you how: you know we’ve got a great God who loves us and answers our prayers and we can worship Him. So, first of all, I need new members, come, become a member and make me happy my friend, in this way you will show your love for me. Besides that there are a lots of people in our church waiting for you to love them. They just come Sunday after Sunday and waiting for people like you to come and love them, and so if you join us and come I am sure they will be very happy. Also, please do not forget to bring your money when you come, you know, your tithes and offerings. We have a deficit in our budget and you may show your love for us this way as well. Oh, how nice to meet with you. God has sent you to us. See you Sunday, God bless you.”
And so he went. I wonder why I never saw him again.
People with whom I shared this story found the pastor’s responses disgusting for the right reason. Then is it wise to accept the same words coming from God’s mouth as true and acceptable?
Murat Kuntel is the pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.