A friend recently encouraged me to recall the times I perceived the hand of God on my life.
Even in my Christian days, when I might have had a chance at perceiving God, that would have been a difficult challenge to meet. The reason is that anything could be God working, Satan working, or just me.
When circumstances were good, it was God’s blessing; when they were bad, it was God building character.
When all the doors were open for a certain course of action, it could be God opening them, it could be my own wishful thinking, it could be coincidence, or it could be Satan laying a way of temptation.
When a prayer was granted, maybe the outcome would have been the same if I had not prayed; when it was not granted, maybe that was only because God had something better in store for me.
What about the “inner witness of the Holy Spirit”? Let’s at least be this honest: the inner witness has been pretty unreliable in other people. One only has to observe the huge discrepancies in important doctrines and biblical interpretations that supposedly Spirit-led people have come up with to know this.
If the alleged inner witness of the Spirit hasn’t worked for them, why should I believe it will work for me? Am I that exceptional?
In fact, as I said in the post The Feeling of Knowing, our brains are eager to make us feel that we know something before we actually have sufficient justification, which is to say before we know rather than just believe:
Our rational thought process, left to its own, could dither forever. We need something that says, “You have the answer now. Time to act.” That something is the feeling of knowing.
When considering something as important yet subjective as whether God is working in your life, it seems to me that we should be extra careful. We need to devise ways to know we are not fooling ourselves.
That’s what procedures such as randomized, double-blind experiments are designed to do. What would that look like in one’s own life? Some people keep prayer journals and observe which prayers are answered. That’s a start, but it’s hardly randomized or double-blind. Scientific studies of prayer have been done, but the results have not been encouraging.
So help me out, dear readers. Have you been able to perceive the hand of God on your life? How do you know?