Does God speak in unidentified promptings?

A quick lesson on discerning a meme. I saw this on Facebook. Here is a lesson on how to parse the silly sayings we see on social media. Let;s take it apart phrase by phrase and really think about what it is trying to communicate.

"Unidentified promptings" contradicts his word on the face of it, because He always identified Himself as the One speaking. Even when God spoke to pagans they knew this was an authoritative and undeniable voice of a God they must obey.

Would God speak behind a veil of uncertainty as to the source? No, never. Further, the Lord never spoke unclearly to an audience. He was always open and authoritative when He spoke. (Matthew 7:29). Did the Lord say "I shall give Pharaoh unidentified promptings to let My people go"? (Exodus 4:22). Does Exodus 7:17 say, "Thus prompts the LORD in unidentified manner, In this thou shalt strongly suspect through an inner voice that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. Probably. If you discern the prompting correctly."

In addition, if the promptings are unidentified, how do you know they are from God? We know the devil speaks. (John 8:44). We know our own heart speaks too, for out of it come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander; says Matthew 15:19. Why would you want to risk acting upon something that could either be from the devil or your own dark heart?

Third, do you ever act on unidentified promptings in other cases in real life? If an unidentified voice whispered over the intercom at work to go do something, would you? If an unidentified voice left on your phone messages urged you to an action, would you do it? No. You'd probably say 'This is creepy' and delete the message or ignore the intercom. Why risk following an unidentified prompting that more than likely is coming from the devil or your own foolish heart?

Next, 'promptings' cannot be confirmed by the word. A prompting is a nebulous, gossamer thought like the last remnant of a dream you're trying to hold on to before full consciousness erases it. How can the word of God confirm something so tenuous? In the Bible, is there a Book of Unidentified Promptings to which we turn blank pages and write our own indefinite and unclear words in invisible ink?

Last, 'promptings' are not a communication. They are an unidentified feeling, more than likely generated by ourselves from ourselves to ourselves.

Leave the unidentified promptings alone. Better to just read God's word, make decisions according to His commands and precepts, and take responsibility for them.


  1. Thank you for this article. I've always been confused when well-meaning Christians said they have a "prompting in their spirit or soul" about something and therefore it must be from "god".

  2. Really Good...
    Your right if we go by these promptings, we can be easily deceived!

  3. Thanks to your blog I am discerning much better. It is their twisting of words that appear harmless and helpful but in reality false and deadly. But do they even know what they are doing? I wonder.

  4. Thank you Elizabeth for cutting through the jibber jabber that poses as truth. All too often this kind of thing is given more credibility than deserved.

  5. I'm disappointed that a quote like this would come out of Chuck Swindoll (if it really did...anyone can make a 'meme' and put someone's name on it without being questioned these days!), but this kind of talk is absolutely pervasive in what used to be considered "pretty standard Christian" forums.
    I'm grateful for your voice Elizabeth, and for the countless solid resources you cite throughout your blog. In my own recent return to doctrine from the garden path of la-la-me-me-non-Faith, I will echo that my habit of saying "I feel like the Lord is leading me to say or think or do _______" was due to personal weakness and false humility. I saw myself as such a pathetic worm with no intellect or worth (because if it were otherwise, I'd be 'successful'!), that I could NEVER say "I think _____" or "It seems to me from this set of facts that _____ is the proper course of action".
    I prefaced every statement, every action, even every stated emotion with "I just feel in my spirit that _____" or "I'm sensing from the Lord _____". It was a nasty psychological vortex where I could allow myself to be the victim, to shirk responsibility for choices or decisive actions (in case they didn't work out), and all the while I was in total life paralysis, indecision, uncertainty, purposelessness and despair.
    Understanding that "God has already said everything He wants me to know" is so very freeing; I *don't* need to agonize and "listen in prayer" and vacillate on the tiniest details because I'm "waiting on God" for every non-eternal decision! These convictions are the first rays of hope in many, many years. I find myself singing with David: Psalm 19:-7-9
    The law of the LORD is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
    the testimony of the LORD is sure,
    making wise the simple;
    the precepts of the LORD are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
    the commandment of the LORD is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
    the fear of the LORD is clean,
    enduring forever;
    the rules of the LORD are true,
    and righteous altogether.

    1. Hi Skippie,

      Well said and amen! I loved your testimony. As John MacArthur said, if it's commanded or prohibited in scripture, do it or do not do it, everything else, simply apply a biblical worldview over it and decide. Go forward based on your decision and God in His providence makes it work out! It's called 'decision-making' lol.

      I liked the way you said you don't need to stress over the tiniest details of every non-eternal decision. Well done!


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