What If a Prompting Doesn’t Make Sense?

Written by Loren G. Dalton, author of You Are Receiving Revelation, Now Act on It!

I love the story found in 2 Kings 6:15–17, where Elisha and his servant are surrounded by host of horses and chariots. Things looked very bleak for them. But then Elisha shows his servant the heavenly host that was there to protect and help them.

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (emphasis added).

Elisha’s faith allowed him to see what the servant could not see. If Elisha had not been able to see what was there, it wouldn’t change the fact that the Lord had placed those “horses and chariots of fire” to fill the mountain. But without seeing that vision, it would have seemed impossible that the prophet and his servant would come away victorious. You see, because we can only see with our physical eyes, it may often seem that what the Spirit is prompting us to do is crazy.

In Isaiah 55:8–9, we read: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We all know that God knows all things. Yet, we still continue to doubt and hold back on acting on promptings when they don’t seem to make sense to us. We need to get past this challenge.

According to John Taylor, Joseph Smith was well acquainted with this principle and even taught it to him. He, in fact, wrote that the Prophet Joseph told him the following: “Elder Taylor, you have been baptized, you have had hands laid upon your head for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and you have been ordained to the holy Priesthood. Now, if you will continue to follow the leadings of that spirit, it will always lead you right. Sometimes it might be contrary to your judgment; never mind that, follow its dictates; and if you be true to its whisperings it will in time become in you a principle of revelation, so that you will know all things.” (Young, Journal of Discourses, 19:154.)

We would be able to do so much more good in the world if we would learn to follow this wise counsel from Joseph Smith.

God Doesn’t Need to Use Logic

This is one important principle that I drove home over and over with our missionaries. After helping them understand how the Spirit 

works—and warning them about the second voice—I emphasized three additional important principles:

  1. Act immediately on every prompting.

  2. Don’t doubt your promptings. Just act on them and move on.

  3. Don’t worry if the prompting doesn’t make sense.

This third principle was a tough one to get many of the missionaries to buy into. Since the adversary does such a great job of coming in as the second voice and convincing people of just how little sense that original prompting makes, it is very important that we don’t worry about the “logic”—or lack thereof—of any prompting from the Holy Ghost. We just need to act on it. You see, the benefit that God has is that He already knows how things will end up. He knows what the right thing to do is, and sometimes that “right thing” won’t appear to make any sense at all to us. Do you think that matters to Him? Of course not. However, Satan will try to use logic to show us why it makes no sense to act on that first prompting.

During our time in Brazil, every year—as with all missions in the world—we were blessed to have a member of one of the quorums of the Seventy visit our mission, performing what has been referred to as a “mission tour.”

One year, our mission tour was presided over by Elder Claudio Campos. One of the outstanding messages that he shared with our mission was that “God loves the crazies!” His wonderful message was that God will often ask His servants to do something that doesn’t make any sense. In fact, it may seem like it is impossible to us. But we just need to trust in Him and move forward, allowing Him to do the hard part, once we show our faith in Him and do our part. “Impossible” is oftentimes His starting point!

Elder Campos told our missionaries that God needs more people who are willing to act on promptings that don’t make sense so that God can touch—and save—many more lives. God loves those who move forward with faith in this regard. Elder Campos then shared with our missionaries many great examples from the scriptures:

  1. Moses and the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14:21–22.

  2. Moses and the brass serpent in Numbers 21.

  3. Joshua and the conquering of the city of Jericho in Joshua 6:20.

  4. Noah and the building of the ark on dry ground in Genesis 6–8.

  5. Gideon reducing his army to only 300 men in Judges 7.

  6. Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18.

  7. A young man or woman leaving family and friends to serve a mission for their church.

He gave many more examples, and he had the perfect attention of every missionary in the chapel that day. I distinctly remember how strong the Spirit was in that meeting as he challenged our missionaries to be bolder in their work—to be fearless in following God’s promptings—and to realize that God can do anything He wants. We simply need to seek His promptings every day and to act on them as soon as they come, without stopping to wonder if the prompting makes sense. What a great message for all of us to hear and internalize.

I pray that more and more of us will recommit ourselves each day, pleading with the Lord to trust us with at least one prompting for that day and promising Him that as He does send promptings to us, we will act immediately on that prompting, no matter how little sense it makes and no matter how awkward it makes us feel. Heavenly Father has so many children that He wants to bless and help. But He needs more of us to respond to our promptings. And it is so rewarding for those who do quickly act on their promptings.

God wants to communicate with His children. If utilized, the tools found in You Are Receiving Revelation will help us open our hearts, wade through the distractions, and listen!