It is an expression frequently heard on religious television and radio. All too often the man who is doing the preaching will say something like, “I want you to share with you something that the Lord laid on my heart.” Of course, it is not just televangelists who say this. It is a common saying among many religious folks. I don’t want to call anyone’s sincerity into question, but how should we understand a statement like that? How can we know if the Lord really did lay something on a person’s heart? Is it possible the Lord may lay something on my heart? Is it a legitimate thing for people to say or claim?
First Kings 13 tells of a man of God who faithfully spoke “the word of the Lord” and was careful not to violate what the Lord had “commanded” him (13:2, 7-10). But an old prophet came and spoke something different than what the Lord had told the younger prophet. And it was pretty convincing. “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying…” (13:18). The words of the old prophet sounded good, and he said that an angel of the Lord told him. But the rest of the verse says that he “was lying.” A man made a claim that was not true, but the younger prophet did not know it. The Lord had not laid anything on that old prophet’s heart, particularly something that violated His own commands.
In another passage, the Lord spoke through Moses about “the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name” (Deut. 18:20). Such a prophet would come forth and likely say things like, “The Lord told me that such and such was going to happen,” or “I am coming to you in the name of the Lord,” or even, “The Lord laid this on my heart to share with you.” That prophet may sincerely believe that what he is saying is really “from the Lord,” and he may convince others that his message really is from the Lord. But, is it? To presume the Lord has spoken does not mean He has!
How can I know the will of God? First, I need to realize that God’s revelation has been “once for all delivered” (Jude 3), which means no further revelation will be made. Second, I need to accept that God’s revealed will in His Word is complete and all-sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16-17), supplying me with everything I need to live and to serve God (2 Pet. 1:3). Third, I need to admit that if I believe God laid something on my heart, then someone else has an equal right to claim that God has laid the complete opposite on his heart, and who is to say who is “right” and who is “wrong”? That’s why God’s Word is the perfect, complete and final standard in all things (John 12:48).
David said, “Thy word have I hidden in my heart” (Psa. 119:11). That’s how God lays something on our hearts today—when we read it, meditate upon it and write it on our hearts!