My good friend Jason used to be an outstanding pastor and preacher. After a church split and two other hard experiences, though, Jason no longer felt God was in His life.
“God,” Jason prayed, “if You are real, say something. I need to hear You speak to me.” Jason waited and waited. As far as he was concerned, God never spoke to him. That’s probably the case.
Sadly, Jason was trying to use one of the wrong ways to know God was (and is) in his life.
3 Wrong Ways to Know God’s in Your Life
1. “God, speak to me.”
My friend Jason added, “If You don’t speak to me, God, I’m not going to believe in you anymore.” Unfortunately, Jason had forgotten who the Lord God is. He had forgotten how God works. Then he made an unbiblical demand.
In Scripture, we almost never find a prophet earnestly praying for God to speak to Him right away. One exception is Daniel right before his execution (Daniel 2:13-18).
Bottom line: Unless you are as godly as Daniel, don’t demand that God speak to you. It’s unbiblical.
2. “God, strike me with lightning.”
Again, that’s not how God works. Yet atheists have used this line in public forever. Many others have said, “God, strike me with lightning if I’m lying” or similar. A Christian leader who knows God’s Word would never say such a thing.
Granted, James and John asked Jesus for permission to call down fire from heaven, but to destroy a Samaritan city…and the Lord rebuked them (Luke 9:54-55). And Elijah prayed earnestly for the Lord to send down fire from heaven, but only to consume his offering (1 Kings 18:36-38).
Unless you’re as godly as Elijah, don’t pray for lightning.
3. “God, show Yourself to me.”
When Moses asked the Lord to show Himself, the Lord gently but firmly rebuked him (Exodus 33:18-23). In the end, God partially acquiesced to Moses, but the great prophet fell with his face to the ground. In other words, he probably didn’t see God, after all.
Unless you’re as godly as Moses, don’t ask to see the Lord.
3 Right Ways to Know God Is in Your Life
1. “God, I want to sense Your presence.”
This may sound similar to the wrong ways above, but this time it’s biblical. We see this frequently in the Psalms, where David and other writers beg the Lord to not forsake them and instead help them know He is near. We see this in Psalm 10:1, Psalm 13:1-3, Psalm 18:4-6, Psalm 22:1, Psalm 28:1-2, and many other times throughout the rest of the Psalter.
2. “God, please answer this very specific prayer.”
Again, this is biblical. We see this repeatedly in the Old Testament and again in Acts. Sometimes these prayers were public. Sometimes they were secret. The latter had special significance. They still do today. As a result, we also can…
3. See God’s providence.
This is God’s purposeful guidance and gracious provision. It’s completely outside of our influence and control. We pray in secret, God surprises us, we praise Him, and we know again (even more) that God is in our life.
These 6 ways (minus 3) to know God is in your life are worth pondering now, when you pray, and when God surprises you again the next time.
David Sanford’s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale House, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His speaking engagements have ranged everywhere from UC Berkeley (CA) to The Billy Graham Center at the Cove (NC).