Our discernment and ability to flow with the Holy Spirit are greatly affected by what we absorb through our physical senses, especially our eyes and ears. The eyes and ears are gates, or openings, to the soul and spirit. So, if we are going to keep our discernment untainted, we have to be careful about what we let in through the gates.
Besides the obvious things we should want to avoid, such as risqué music and videos, there are far more subtle influences which can corrupt our ability to retain God’s vantage point. The news media — whether liberal or conservative — is a major area to be wary of.
First of all, we have to realize that when it comes to the news, fear sells. I know believers who are consumed with anxiety, just because they spend too much time watching or reading the news. It is good to stay informed on current events, but constantly learning about catastrophes (or predictions of possible catastrophes, many of which never happen) can open us up to a spirit of fear. At best, a steady diet of that kind of info weighs a person down. We who are intercessors need to be especially careful not to let ourselves become overburdened or distracted with too many subjects of concern all at the same time.
Worse for us than the news articles themselves are the editorials. During the last election, I was truly appalled at the barrage of hate-filled e-mails and social media posts I saw from well-meaning Christians who were trying to keep their fellow believers informed on political issues. The name-calling, finger-pointing, and venom coming through these communications was not at all allied with the Spirit of Jesus. And the same spirit was showing up in some intercessors’ prayers as well.
Why was this happening? Too much listening to conservative news commentators turned out to be the source of the problem. Let’s just say something which should be obvious, but apparently isn’t: conservative and Christian are not interchangeable terms. Just because it is a conservative point of view does not make it automatically Christ-like. Most of the commentators are not believers. Even those who are do not always think from a biblical perspective. And if you listen to these folks all the time, your spiritual senses will become dull.
Shifting gears quite a bit, let me ask: do you watch Ellen? Oprah? SNL? I challenge you to remove those things from your viewing diet. Replace them and the news commentaries with time in the Word, and you will be surprised how quickly your spiritual discernment will improve. Psalm 1:1, 2 tells us, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor does he stand in the way of sinners, nor does he sit in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” There are the keys we need: don’t heed the counsel of the ungodly, don’t let yourself become scornful, and delight in and meditate in the Scriptures.
Next time, we will shift into specifics of how to apply discernment to intercession.