In looking at the practical side of sensitivity to the Spirit I am drawn to two places, Leviticus chapter 8 and Ephesians 1.
8 Then he put the breastplate on him, and he put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastplate. Leviticus 8:8 (NKJV)
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:17 (NKJV)
I have long seen these two passages as connected. Though scripture is not explicit regarding how the Urim and Thummim worked, we do know they were used for decision making. I see Urim and Thummim as corresponding to wisdom and revelation as I view them as the key factors in decision making. I will explain.
Revelation is something we get in our spirit via His Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 2:9-12) and we acquire wisdom through His word and our life experience. To better understand this in practice here are some practical examples from my own life, one more recent and one from many years ago. I begin with discernment regarding an email. I completed a Doctorate in Apologetics in September 2020. When I initially received an email from the Seminary inviting me to apply to their doctoral program (I had completed my MA there) my first thought was, “That is the last thing on the planet I want to do.” I was nearing the end of my career and wanted to engage in some ministry in retirement but had no appetite for further education. I deleted the email. A year later I received a similar email. This time I had a sense in my spirit that I needed to weigh it before Him. I did that and felt that I needed to proceed, so I did so with a measure of trepidation and began working on my Doctorate around 18 months prior to my retirement.
The sensitivity part for me was responding to the check in my spirit and not deleting the second email even though it was something I did not want to undertake. I had a sense in my spirit that this was important so I spent some time weighing it before Him prior to proceeding. The fruit of it was that I engaged in the discipline required to work my way through a doctoral program and I learned a great deal that I apply regularly in my writing and interactions with others.
I had a similar experience in applying for a job over two decades ago. I applied for a transfer to be closer to home and once I confirmed the transfer a management position that I had previously wanted to apply for came open. It was as far away from my home as possible and still in the same city. I decided I could not apply because I had made a commitment to the transfer role to another office. I started in the new office on a Monday and one of my first calls was from a senior HR person asking if I had considered applying for the management role. I explained my interest and how I had made my decision to not apply. I was still urged to consider it. After the phone call there was a sense in my spirit to weigh this option even though it made no sense in my head.
I spent time weighing matters and felt I was to apply for the job while also feeling that I was to stay in the office that I was in. Logically it made no sense to me. Where wisdom came in was that I recognized His voice and leading so proceeded with the application even though it logically made no sense to me. To shorten a long story, it all made sense in the end. I was offered the position, but in the office, I had transferred to and the existing manager was transferred to the job I had applied for across the city.
These are two examples of fairly significant decisions in my life. Yet I use this same process on a regular basis. Having a prompting to pray for or email someone. Having a sense to stop and speak with someone or being drawn into prayer at various times during the day for specific people or circumstances. While working on this post I was out on a bike ride and led to pray specifically for some people while I rode. Once kept coming up with a specific focus so I sent the person a text and they affirmed the accuracy of what I was praying for them.
Practically I think we have options regarding how we are able to develop or deepen our sensitivity to His presence and leading. I think we need to set aside specific times to cultivate our relationship with Jesus. We create a habit that makes room for our relationship with Him to spill over into the other aspects of our day. This creates an awareness of, and sensitivity to, these little promptings. Personally, I don’t look for promptings, I simply try to focus my heart on Jesus at various times throughout the day, the rest follows. If not already on this journey please join me.