Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20-21).
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39).
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you (John 16:13).
Here in Missouri, people like to do something called a float trip. This isn’t done now because the water’s cold, but when the weather turns warm, people will flock to the rivers. Basically, you just get a bunch of friends together, go to the river with some inner tubes or even canoes or something, and you just float along and hang out.
You don’t really swim down the river. Even if you spend the whole time in the water, not on a canoe or tube or something, the objective isn’t to get somewhere. All you’re doing is having fun with your friends and letting the current carry you downstream.
It’s not whitewater rafting or anything. You’re not trying to get anywhere. You just let the river carry you while you hang out, talk, splash around, whatever.
This is the picture that comes into my head every time I read 2 Peter 1. The prophets didn’t speak of their own will. They didn’t set out on their own power for some destination. Instead, they let the Spirit carry them along, allowing the flow, the currents of the Spirit to determine what they did. Their will was submitted to that of God.
And we see this same kind of relationship among the Trinity. In Matthew 26, the Son prayed to the Father, “not my will, but yours.” Everything Jesus did in his earthly ministry, he did not of his own power and will, but by that of the Father (John 5:19).
The Son submitted his will to the Father. And in turn, the will of the Spirit in this present age, the age of the Church, is submitted to the will of the Son. As Jesus explained in John 16, the Spirit speaks to us whatever the Son speaks to him. And the Son, in turn, is merely passing on what the Father has given him.
And this is what we are to do, too. As the Spirit carries us along—as the Spirit speaks and guides us, taking us to his destination and not our own—we act. Not our will, but God’s be done.
But it’s hard, isn’t it?
At times, our will is in conflict with the Spirit’s. Sometimes your will even conflicts with itself!
You want to do the Spirit’s will. But you also want to do yours. Sound familiar?
Picture this: You are floating down the river. You may want to go down the river, but you want to do it on your own terms, at your own pace. So you keep grabbing rocks and trees and such, holding on until you can’t hold on anymore and the current finally can sweep you away. And once it finally happens, you feel so much better, but also so very tired, because you spent so much energy fighting the current.
How can you be carried along by the Holy Spirit if you’re grabbing every rock and tree limb along the way?
You may finally give in and get swept downstream, but you do it only because you’re finally too tired to resist. And so you make progress, but you’re just exhausted, and you’re nowhere near as far as you should have been.
Is this sounding familiar to you?
What is the answer? How do we keep from falling into this trap?
The best answer I can give you is prayer. Continual prayer. As Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi of the Orthodox Church says, “Prayer is the sole obligatory and indispensable occupation and virtue for all rational beings, both sentient and thinking, human and angelic.” You MUST have a vital prayer life if you are to follow Christ. Just as Christ was in continual communion with the Father, so we, too, are to continually commune with God.
And let your prayer be not just logical, rational prayer, prayer in words. Pray in tongues. Let the Spirit help you pray (Rom 8:26). When you pray in tongues, you don’t know what exactly you’re praying. And that’s a good thing! God doesn’t just communicate to us on a rational level, and believe it or not, your mind isn’t wholly rational, either. By all means, use your rational mind throughout your life. But don’t neglect the part of you that isn’t expressible in rational words, nor God’s messages to you that cannot be expressed in words!
So devote yourself constantly to prayer. Pray while you work. Pray while you study. Pray in tongues when you’re alone. Let prayer flow out of you at all times!
And whenever you find yourself fighting the Spirit, keep the picture of fighting the river in mind. You will eventually give in, and you will be exhausted. How much better would it be to not waste your time and energy fighting God? Remind yourself of this when you find yourself tempted to resist God’s will.
Remind yourself how much better it is for yourself if you just let yourself be carried along by the Holy Spirit!