Summary: The sixth, and final installment in a series examing keys to unlocking powerful prevailing prayers. This message explores the power of discernment in our prayer walks.
As we enter the final week of our 40 Days of Prayer, there is one more power that I want us to explore. We have looked at desperation, community, confession, calling, and covenant. And today I want us to just briefly scratch the surface, and begin an exploration of the power of discernment.
Over the past two weeks, we have explored two large specific passages documenting the lives of Gideon and Hezekiah, and these passages have helped us unwrap our prevailing prayer power. Today, we are going to jump around a bit more, as we explore this topic of discernment throughout God’s Word. So grab a Bible, and prepare for the journey.
Let’s start in I Corinthians 12, and begin with an effort to describe or define what discernment is. I Corinthians 12. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth regarding the topic of spiritual gifts, and he writes in I Corinthians 12:7 (READ THROUGH VERSE 11).
In this context Paul describes the ability to discern spirits as a spiritual gift. Something that some people have been gifted with by the Holy Spirit, and others haven’t. At least not in equal degrees. In fact, throughout a large portion of the history of the church, discernment has been viewed, categorized, seen as a spiritual gift.
But let’s explore a bit further. Turn further back in your bibles to Hebrews 5. In Hebrews 5, the discussion turns to the maturity level of believers, and we find these words in Hebrews 5:12 (READ THROUGH VERSE 14).
We have this spiritual gift that enables some to discern spirits, though we know that spiritual gifts are not equally given to all of us, but we also have this truth and awareness that the more we grow in our Christian walk, the greater our ability to discern both good and evil should be. There is this analogy of solid food. The solid spiritual food of the mature Christian belongs to those who have developed, and exercised through use their ability to discern good from evil. Right from wrong.
So discernment is a spiritual gift, but it is also a spiritual characteristic. It varies by gifting, but it also varies by maturity. We can see this in another passage. Turn to Romans 14. Romans 14:1 (READ).
Now your translation may lack the English word discernment, but the same Greek word is there, it is just translated with a different English variation. In dealing with these individuals who are in disputes and debates over what can be eaten and what can’t be eaten, Paul says, “Don’t take those who are weak in the faith, and give them to these doubtful debates. These places of questionable discernment.”
Why does Paul say that? Because they are weak in the faith. They have not matured to the point of being able to discern the Holy Spirit’s direction and leading in these debates. It isn’t in our translations, but the Greek used there is the same.
And in this passage there is a correlation between not only spiritual maturity and faith, but faith and discernment. We will see a bit later the role faith plays in discernment.
What do we have so far? Discernment is a spiritual gift, a characteristic of spiritual character and maturity, and also an out flowing of faith. But what does it mean to discern? What is the actual definition of that word we have been looking at. . .diakrisis?
Two English words that might help us better understand it: distinguishing and judging. Discernment is the ability to examine something, and determine the good and/or evil in it. The ability to look at the evidence, and determine where God fits into the picture.
But there is a difference between those definitions at their surface level, and what we are looking at for empowering our prayer life. You see, it is one thing to be able to discern, to be able to distinguish and between good and evil in the physical world.
Most people, godly or not, Christian or not, spiritually mature or not, are able to watch the evening news, and with a fair degree of accuracy discern, distinguish, judge between what is happening in our world that is good, and what is happening that is evil.
Is it a great struggle to look at an Amish school shooting or a roadside terrorist bomb and discern whether that is good or evil? Most people can get that. Not all, but most without any spiritual gifting, maturity or faith.
However, it is an entirely different thing to be able to discern good and evil in the spiritual world. And there are at least a few reasons why that is true. You see, there are things that are a part of our lives, and our experiences that block our ability to experience Godly discernment in the spiritual realm, and in our prayer life. For example. . .