As Christisns, we are taught how important it is to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible. Most Christians think this is just about becoming a better person in Christ. But it goes way beyond that. This is where discernment grows out of. This is where we learn to hear the ‘still small voice’ (1 Kings 19:12) of the Lord.
Depending on what denomination or religious circle you come from, there can be misunderstandings about what discernment from the Lord is all about. Some Pentecostals and Charismatics believe discernment is something that comes naturally with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Even though the baptism or filling with the Holy Spirit is all about power, and it is true that after the day of Pentecost that casting lots (Acts 1:26) was never mentioned again, we must realize that discernment goes much deeper than that. It does not just come out of a Pentecostal experience, but it comes out of intimacy spent with the Lord. This intimacy can only come from spending quality time in prayer and the studying of the written Word. It’s a continuous everyday process, not a onetime experience. It is the only way we can hear and distinguish our Master’s voice. This intimacy is what ‘Abiding in the Lord‘ is all about.
Prayer is not just about petitioning the Lord like He is a genie kept in a bottle. Examine the ‘Our Father’ (Matthew 6 and Luke 11), which was the example Jesus left us with on how to pray. It is about adoration, acknowledgement, agreement, forgiveness, humility, love, thanksgiving, honoring, praise, worship, yielding, and finally waiting. Prayer is not just an event. It is an attitude and a way of life. It infiltrates all our waking hours. Once we come to realize this and begin living it, the Lord has our attention at all times and is able to give us continuous discernment and even visions. It will even spill over into our non-waking hours as heaven sent dreams that are not from our imagination.
You do not have to be Pentecostal to have discernment in your life. I have seen many non-Pentecostals have more discernment in their lives than Pentecostals simply because the Pentecostals took it for granted what they had and did not keep up an intimate walk with the Lord. Just because you can pray in tongues does not automatically mean you have discernment in your life. As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 14:14 that when he prays in a tongue his spirit prays but his understanding is unfruitful. Remember that discernment encompasses understanding. It is literally a transfer of information from our spiritual walk with the Lord into our human mind so it can be acted upon. It is insight that surpasses all human reasoning.
This kind of discernment is between the Lord and the individual. It is not to be confused with any of the nine corporate gifts of the Holy Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12.
To help reinforce that discernment grows out of our abiding in the Lord, look at the definitions listed below along with the Scripture verses that follow:
Abiding – Remaining or fixed in a state.
Prayer – Spiritual communion with God.
Discernment – Perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:4-7 NKJV)
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:21, 23 NKJV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)
You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize (discern) the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:12-14 NLT)
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:6 NKJV)
And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. (Acts 2:17 NKJV)