Speaking to the Soul – Monday September 20

A short reading and prayers for today

Next Paul and Silas travelled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time.
Acts 16:6 NLT

This is a remarkable moment. Paul clearly had a carefully worked out plan for his missionary journey but, at the same time, was intensely sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit. Here we meet him in what we know as central Turkey heading towards Ephesus but then the Spirit prevented him from going in that direction. So he then set off north until, in the next verse, the “Spirit of Jesus” told them not to enter Bithynia. We have no idea how Paul received this guidance. Perhaps it was through a dream or a word of prophecy. We don’t know and, what is more, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Paul was ready to go wherever the Lord led him, and he was eager to respond immediately to the breath of the Spirit.

Planning is good. It is wise to think through plans for the future whether we are thinking about family holidays, career, retirement or the mission of the church. It is good to do thoughtful research and to talk with lots of people and, as a result, to devise a plan that makes sense and wins general approval. However, we still need to remain light on our feet and ready to adjust to new circumstances or the voice of God. During the pandemic we all had to adjust our plans to a huge extent. That didn’t mean that our planning was wrong or inadequate. It just meant that we needed to reflect on our plans in the light of the new circumstances. And there will be times when, even though we have set our heart on something, we may suddenly lose a sense of God’s peace about it. I was talking this morning with a friend who, when we last spoke, was determined to buy a particular house. But things have changed and suddenly he was peaceful that it was the wrong house for them. Guidance is often not neat and clear cut. It involves listening with all our attention to the voice of the Spirit.


Has the Spirit ever said no to any of your plans?


Lord God, thank you that you love us so much that you are willing to stop us going the wrong way. Amen

Lord, we pray thee
that thy grace may always prevent and follow us,
and make us continually to be given to all good works;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
Teach us to offer ourselves to your service,
that here we may have your peace,
and in the world to come may see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.