The Still Small Voice

The Art of Reflection - Turning Sight into Insight

 Chapter Five, Part Two



. . .He had hardly left the hospital
before the Lord caught up with him:

‘You too have been too active for Me,
and have not taken enough time to be occupied with Me.’



Turning Sight into Insight

‘Daniel, I have come to give you insight and understanding.’ (Daniel 9:22)

The first time I drove up the ‘Atlantic highway’ on the west coast of Devon, I glimpsed large radar dishes. As so often the Lord turned sight into insight, and reminded me just how serious the issue of cyber warfare has become. Dedicated state organizations, as well as opportunistic hackers and well-funded criminal gangs, worm their way into top security computer systems, seeking to exploit the highly sensitive information on which virtually all of modern life depends. Those who control the information effectively control everything, not least with a view to disrupting defense systems, and potentially paralyzing vital communications systems. Since cyber warfare is certain to play a significant (and very possibly the determining) role in future conflict, this is an entirely appropriate topic to take up seriously in prayer.

The Lord has many ways of alerting us to things that are on His heart. As I was walking down a cobbled street in a Devonian village a few minutes later, I heard a mother calling her child. I instantly felt prompted to pray for someone of that name. I rang her a few hours later, as I usually try to do when I sense such leadings, and found that there was indeed a pressing reason why the Lord had put her on my heart.

I also find that God uses ‘look-alikes’ as one of His ways to call me to pray. For a fleeting moment, some passer-by reminds me in a certain profile of someone else I know. I take it as a pointer to pray for the person I am reminded of. On other occasions a certain make or colour of a car serves to remind me of someone who drives a similar model.

Do such ‘coincidences’ really come from God? I find that in perhaps three-quarters of such instances there is an immediate reason why these people have been brought to mind.

More than we realize at the time, our prayers may be paving the way for the Spirit to open something up for them – or to protect them from some danger. In any case: how can anything but good come from praying for them?

Even fleeting thoughts may correspond to someone’s real need. My car broke down in a motorway service station once, when I was on my way to spend a weekend with some friends, who were following on an hour or two behind me. As they approached the service station, one of them had the thought, ‘Perhaps Robert has broken down in there.’ Unfortunately, he pushed it aside, and had to drive a long way back later on to pick me up!

The Lord uses not only words but also sights, sounds and even smells to trigger associations that lead to prayer and action – or simply to bring comfort. As I was wheeled into hospital theatre for a rather unpleasant operation, I distinctly smelt the reassuring wood-fire smoke of our favourite cottage in the Lake District.

On another occasion, after hearing a distressing report about someone who means a lot to us, our bedroom was suddenly invaded by the distinct fragrance of lilies, reminding us of the lilies that surround his apartment. On these two occasions at least, the Still Small Voice became the Sweet Smelling Fragrance!

Many of the clearest nudges I receive come while I am writing. It is as though the Holy Spirit is alerting me by sending me the equivalent of an e-mail. A few come with such urgency that I feel the need to drop everything and pray. Normally, I just make a note of them, and resolve to return to them later.

For Reflection and Prayer

I need to be careful not to get so carried away with the fact
that the Lord is sharing something with me
that I forget to take it up properly later on.

Lord, help us to recognize it is no coincidence
when You bring people to our minds.

Help us to remain awhile longer in Your presence,
in case You have more to say to us.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


3 Matthew 11:21-24 cf Isaiah 28:21-22. We will look in much greater detail at what the Lord is saying to the nations in Led by the Spirit.
4 Stephen Parker Led by the Spirit (Sheffield Academic Press).