“The Deceptive Heart: Why a ‘Good Feeling’ May Not Always Signal an Answered Prayer”
In the journey of faith, many of us often turn to prayer as a form of guidance and reassurance. Whether we seek answers to pressing questions or relief from our burdens, we sometimes emerge from prayer with a sense of peace—a “good feeling”—and consider it an affirmation from the divine. But is this “good feeling” always indicative of a prayer that has been answered? Or could our hearts, prone to self-deception, be leading us astray?
A Heart Prone to Deception
Scripture often cautions us about the fallibility of our hearts. In Jeremiah 17:9, we read, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” This verse points to the human heart’s complexity and its capacity for deception. In moments when we think we’ve received divine guidance, it’s crucial to scrutinize those feelings through the lens of scripture, wisdom, and counsel.
The Good, the Bad, and the Subjective
Emotions are inherently subjective experiences that can be influenced by numerous factors, from hormonal shifts to environmental circumstances. This subjectivity means that our feelings may not always serve as reliable barometers for truth. The Bible also warns against relying solely on our understanding. Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Testing the Spirits
1 John 4:1 advises, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” This scripture reminds us not to accept every spiritual experience or inner feeling uncritically. Like the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11) to test what they heard, we should do the same when a so-called “answer” to prayer comes primarily through emotion.
Aligning with Yehovah’s Will
Often, prayer is not merely about asking Yehovah for what we want or need but about aligning our desires with His will. The Lord’s Prayer includes the phrase, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10), which underscores the importance of seeking Yehovah’s plans over our own. When we pray in this way, the answer may not always manifest as a change in circumstances but as a change in us.
The Role of Community and Counsel
In the complexity of discerning Yehovah’s will, we should not underestimate the importance of community and wise counsel. Proverbs 11:14 tells us, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Consultation with trusted spiritual advisors can provide an external perspective that may help differentiate between personal desire and divine guidance.
The Pauline Perspective
Even the apostle Paul faced unanswered prayers, most notably when he prayed three times for the “thorn in the flesh” to be removed, only to hear Yehovah say, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Sometimes, the real answer to a prayer may be in the subsequent growth or wisdom gained, not in immediate resolution or feelings of peace.
While it’s natural to seek emotional confirmation as an “answer” to our prayers, relying solely on a “good feeling” can be deceptive. By acknowledging the fallibility of our hearts, testing these emotions against scripture, seeking wise counsel, and striving to align ourselves with Yehovah’s will, we can navigate the complexities of answered—and unanswered—prayers more faithfully.
The scriptures teach us that wisdom, counsel, and alignment with divine will are crucial in understanding the answers to our prayers. Let us be Bereans in our spiritual lives, searching the scriptures and seeking Yehovah’s wisdom above all else.