Case Study

The other day I was alarmed when a friend shared with me how she felt that the "Holy Spirit" had been speaking more clearly to her and based on it she cancelled a visit to see a piece of furniture she was considering to purchase from a second hand owner. She also regretted of NOT following this "nudge" of the "Holy Spirit" a week before for another type of furniture, resulting in a wasted visit because it turned out it didn't meet her criteria.

These are just the latest in a series of decisions where she prioritizes obedience to this "nudge" even when sometimes it doesn't make sense to her. The reason she kept doing this for years is because she said she usually later "understand" why the "Holy Spirit" nudged her this way especially when at the time of the decision the direction didn't make sense to her (i.e. her reason tells her to go one way, but the "nudge" tells her to choose something else). She regarded increasing "trust" of this nudge over reason as a measure of trusting God more. Occassionally she links this nudge with tongue prayer (between 15 minutes to an hour) explaining that "The Holy Spirit impressed me to do praying, I don't know why, but I just do it", and so postpones a planned activity for the day (like cooking / cleaning).

Other "trivial" examples:

  • picking a date for a plane ticket (like Tuesday vs Wednesday)
  • choosing an agent to sell her house

But some other examples over the past 2-3 years were more serious:

  • decision to change residence because seeing a "vision" or a dream of several people burgling her place
  • staying home on a Saturday because she feels there can be a car accident, etc.
  • seeing a "vision" or having a dream of her significant other (or herself) dressed in black which she interprets as something bad will happen. In this case, she would pray in tongue several times a day for 30-60 minutees each.
  • she had a horrible dream discovering that her husband died at home because of Covid-19 so she had been interceding for her husband as well as taking more action to protect her family when going out (good masks) and even considered moving to another place.

In the accident case she felt even more validated because of 3 events:

  • one night she saw her husband threatened in a dream / vision (I don't know the details). The day after, her husband had a car accident in which he could have died (his car was hit by an overspeeding pickup violating red light at high speed from the driver side, but just missed the front door; car was totaled), but he survived with "only" a knee muscle injury which healed in a few months but not 100% (still has a lifelong effect). She attributed her praying for him almost all day as to what had saved his life.
  • one night she dreamed of herself covered in a black dress with a golden neck band. The day after she got into a rear bumper accident from which she felt some lasting damage in her internal organs (though MRI / X-ray were normal) and she blamed herself of not obeying the "nudge" to pray enough that day which she thought could have prevented the accident. She interpreted the golden neck band as life and the black dress (which only covers her upper body) as the scope of the injury to her (above the waist).
  • one night she dreamed of her daughter dressed in black with a similar golden neck band. After the previous incident she prayed all day. Sure enough that day she (with her daughter sitting rear left) almost got into an accident (car suddenly appear from the left, blind spot), and she attributed her prayer as to what saved her daughter's life.

The Question

The complete question is: In everyday matters for personal direction, how do Pentecostals / Charismatic Christians process "information" coming from dream / vision / "nudges" understood as coming from the Holy Spirit, especially in balancing it with common sense reasoning? Is my friend's way of processing her decades of experience with the "Holy Spirit" typical / commendable for a Pentecostal?

Since she classifies herself as "Pentecostal" I'm asking the question from Pentecostal perspective. I am not that familiar with Pentecostal teaching about the Holy Spirit role in guiding everyday decision making (for family use, not for congregation), so I don't quite know what shape the answer will be.

To add focus to this question, below are some possible angles I can think of that the answer can address. These angles represent all elements that I sense are operative in my friend's actual decision making based on her understanding of the "Holy Spirit" role in making everyday decision. Addressing one or more of these angles should suffice to make the answer acceptable.

  1. Is there guidance to distinguish between the impression / nudge / voice / command of the Holy Spirit and simply "gut feeling" ?

  2. Is there guidance to distinguish when is it too mundane and when is it important to consult the Holy Spirit?

  3. Is there teaching that the more one is "in tune" with the Holy Spirit the more "advanced" one is, and that is one area where a believer should strive to increase this "sensitivity" to Holy Spirit guidance?

  4. Is there teaching that the more one is able to "suspend" reason to obey "the nudge" of the Holy Spirit, the more faith one has?

Please note that for this question I'm excluding the Holy Spirit's role for sanctification (fruits of the spirit), conviction of sin, leading one to the truths about Christ, important life decisions (marriage, becoming missionary, choosing career), etc. because the Holy Spirit role for those are undisputed. This question is solely for Pentecostal teaching on everyday decision making that for other denominations are usually relegated primarily (though not exclusively) to regenerated human wisdom / human reason.

How other denominations answer it

Other denominations seem to teach that the Holy Spirit works through human reason but not felt over and against reason, like how God sometimes communicate to an OT prophet. But in my friend's way of describing the "nudge" of the Holy Spirit, there seems to be another personality / consciousness that she clearly distinguishes apart from her regular thinking / emotive / willing powers and taking account of everything that goes on inside her, she prioritizes "Holy Spirit" over human wisdom & reason even in everyday matters and frames it as obedience.

I found a sermon series "The Holy Spirit and Wise Decision Making" in which the pastor discussed 3 options ("Traditional", Pentecostal, and Wisdom) based on a book by Dr. James C. Petty Step by Step: Divine Guidance for Ordinary Christians, which can provide a broader perspective. See notes from sermon series : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Another book the pastor quoted was Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Dr. Garry Friesen already having the 25th anniversary edition, first published in 1980. I haven't read both books, but I don't think the books represented the perspective my friend takes. Therefore I'm asking for the Pentecostal teaching on this.

  • 1
    Could you summarize your question in one sentence to make it easier to figure out what you're asking. Seems like you're not asking a few things and you are asking some other things. – Peter Turner Jan 14 at 14:14
  • @PeterTurner done – GratefulDisciple Aug 27 at 17:14

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