By Norman P. Grubb
WE have now examined the way "the Word of the Lord" comes to us in matters of decisive importance. But, for many, it is in the more ordinary affairs of everyday life that they find such difficulty in knowing the will of God, and in having any conception about the things that they could confidently take by faith. There is a household need of food, or home, or money, or furniture, or job. There are the unsaved children. There are health questions. There are the hundred and one problems connected with our sphere of business, Christian service, our neighbors, our relatives. Life would be too short anyhow for us to obtain a clear word from God as to what would be His will in each matter, and often the call for action is too sudden. How then can we possibly pray in faith, still less use the word of authority, when we do not know God's will, and the Scriptures make it so plain that confident prayer depends upon asking according to His will?
The men of the Bible again give us the clue. In two whose activities are given us in some detail we see the point most clearly; also in the life of the Lord Jesus. We can watch both Moses and Elisha when various sudden demands are made on them, demands that come in the natural course of their lives. Moses, as leader of Israel, is suddenly called upon for bread and water; he is brought up without warning against the barrier of the Red Sea and the unexpected pursuit of the Egyptian Army. He has to meet a surprise attack by the Amalekites. And so on. In Elisha's life the point comes out in still more homely fashion. A widow of one of his assistants is in financial difficulties. A pot of stew is poisoned by mistake. One of his students loses his borrowed axe-head. Exactly the same type of sudden demand is laid on Christ: the disciples sinking in a storm, the multitude with no food: the leper, the blind, the suppliant father and mother falling at His feet.
In few of these cases is there any indication that a period of retirement was sought in order to find the mind of God, although there were certainly critical moments when it is said of Moses, for instance, that he fell on his face; probably because on these occasions he was faced with outbreaks or revolt or loud complaint, and needed to quieten his spirit before he could speak the word of the Lord unmixed with his own personal reactions. The same is noticeable in Elisha when sent for by the idolatrous King Jehoram, with whom the godly King Jehoshaphat had allied himself. "What have I to do with thee?" said he indignantly to Jehoram. "Get thee to the prophets of thy father." And when only persuaded to stay for Jehoshaphat's sake, he asked for a minstrel to soothe his rightly ruffled spirit, before he could know and give out the Lord's word.
But the striking fact is that normally these men of God, as in the case of the Savior Himself, took the supply of God for a sudden emergency in their stride, as it were. They took it for granted that where need was, there also was divine supply, if they would simply draw on it. Look at Elisha providing the oil, healing the fountain, raising the axe-head, getting the water for the army, and so on. But what was special revelation to them is meant to be common grace to us, "the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations but now is made manifest to His saints... which is Christ in you." To us it is now said that "it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Here lies the secret. The life in Christ is not to be regarded as a life lived by jerks, sometimes in and sometimes out of His will. That is exactly the exoteric view of God which remains with us as grave clothes from the fall-that God is merely outside us, transcendent, and His will must be interpreted to us by a constant process of revelations, infusions, breakings forth of light into the midst of a normal experience of darkness. God is transcendent, but, such is the glorious paradox of faith, He is also immanent. Gradually we must come familiar with the esoteric truth, Christ in you, joined to the Lord one spirit, God dwelling in us and walking in us:  "The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you." "It is God that worketh in you to will;" and God's guidance must be seen more in the daily direction of our wills and desires than in sudden words and inspirations.
We must dare to believe that our wills and desires are His, God working them in us, unless we are definitely conscious that they are opposed to Him. Usually we take the other attitude, that our wills and desires are not His, but just our own, and probably selfish, except in the rare cases when we have His will directly communicated to us. It is there that our bondage and hesitation comes over the interpretation of His will. Jesus spoke quietly and naturally to His disciples about asking anything from Him in His Name, stressing that whatever they asked He would give them, and gently chiding them that up till then they had asked nothing. John, who quoted these sayings of Jesus in his Gospel, repeated the same in his own letters "Whatsoever we ask we receive of Him;" "If we ask any thing according to His will he heareth us." Christ (and John) said He was taking it for granted that their normal desires would be His will, and thus asked in His Name. In that same talk He spoke to them of vine and branches, explained that that was now their natural relationship to Him, and that all they needed to do was to take care to maintain it. If they did that, then the sap of His mind, His will and desires, would naturally flow through their hearts, and they would, without effort, be willing one will and desiring one desire with Him.
John perceived the over-sensitiveness of the redeemed human heart and its tendency to false self-condemnation, which would prevent it from acting easily and naturally in the Spirit, and would always make it afraid of itself, fearful of presumption, over-suspicious of selfish motives, causing a paralysis of bold faith and prayer; so he added a passage in his letter on this specific point in connection with believing prayer.2 He here said that our normal condition should be one of confidence before God, confidence in prayer that what we ask for we get. But unfortunately, he said, we get so easily under self-condemnation and are tortured by it. "Our hearts condemn us", and then we hardly dare believe that Christ still indwells us, much less that He grants our desires; so John adds that God is greater than our hearts, and knows the real truth and acts according to that truth, and not according to our wrongful self-condemnation. But, all the same, a self-condemning heart, he says, does make it impossible for us to enjoy His presence, to be bold and free and happy in our acts and attitudes, or to declare the word of faith. And so in a later chapter, 3 he again refers to this false and tormenting fear and self-accusation, and gives the remedy for it.
Do you love God? Does God love you? Well then, stand in that love. Realize that such love has no fear in it. Refuse the fear that torments. Revel in the perfect love, then dare to count on it and act on it.
One of the devil's favorite weapons with immature Christians is false accusation, producing self-torment. Before we are saved, he would keep God's voice away from us altogether, if he could. If he cannot and if we respond to the divine voice in conviction and conversion, then he uses another method. He transforms himself into an angel of light, pretends to speak to us with God's voice, knowing that we will quickly and sensitively respond. He constantly enlarges on our faults and failings, points out every vestige of self in us, keeps us mourning over ourselves till we wonder whether God can have any more to do with us. Thousands of God's people are kept out of the wealth of their heritage by this means. Instead of the spirit of adoption which makes us feel so at home with God that we call Him "Abba Father," the equivalent of the modern "Daddy", we are kept in the spirit of bondage again to fear. We live by the crumbs of God's grace picked up beneath the table, rather than as those who sit at meat with Him, the glorified Jesus supping with us and we with Him.
The way to distinguish between these two voices that of God and Satan, is indicated by John in this passage. The voice of the enemy, bringing fear and condemnation, always torments. There is no fear, no torment, in love. Therefore when our inmost thoughts produce bondage and distress, pain and depression, we can always know they are from the pit. It is the voice of the stranger which the sheep are not to know. When God is speaking, there is light and peace, assurance and largeness in our hearts, even though the Voice may have in it a word of rebuke.
God's rebukes are redemptive, pointing upwards to cleansing and renewal. Satan's rebukes are destructive, pointing downwards to damnation and despair.
What, then, we learn from Moses and Elisha, and from Jesus the Son of Man, is that, unless we are consciously opposed to God in heart, the supply of our daily needs is His will; such indeed is the meaning of the prayer for our daily bread. Just where we are is God's plan for us, and just what we need where we are is what God would give us. Our environment is our opportunity. Our environment provides both the material and justification for boldness of faith. All that Moses or Elisha, or the Lord Himself, did was to meet the sudden next need of daily life with a taking for granted faith that the Father would supply, and a declaration of that faith, and such action as was the natural consequence of such faith. Let us learn to do the same. Is it an unsaved soul in our midst? Is it a financial problem, a new job needed, a supply of food or clothing? Is it a harvest of souls in our ministry or Bible Class? Let us be bold to make the declaration of faith. It is far more honoring to make to believe than to doubt Him, and a far bigger blessing to our neighbor. The men of old would even corner God. "You cannot fail us," Moses would say. "If You do, the world will say You could not deliver us. So You have got to work for us!" God loves language like that! "Nail Him down," as one preacher used to say. It is only a heart full of perfect love and faith that can talk like that; but God would far rather have rough and homely language out of a full heart, than the politest and most respectful phrases which do not come much deeper than from the lips or brain.
Jesus Himself made a staggering statement to this effect. He said that a praying person should be like someone who is so determined to get what he wants that he sets his teeth and makes a proper nuisance of himself till he gets it: wakes up his neighbour at midnight; disregards the warning that his knocking will wake the children; knocks even louder when he hears this, because he knows that it will bring his unwilling neighbor downstairs in double-quick time to stop the racket; and finally gets, not just three loaves, but all he wanted to take, from doubtless a very exasperated donor. Not, indeed, Jesus comments, because he was his friend, but because of his sheer "cheek" (the word used literally means "shamelessness"). And if an unwilling friend can thus be forced to be generous, what about a willing Father? Surely Christ exhorts, not to caution and hesitation, but to great boldness in prayer, yet coupled with great humility.
1. 2 Cor. 6:16. 2 1 John 3:79-22. 3 1 John 4:17, 78