The Leading of the Spirit Brings the Blessing of God
It was June 11, 1995. Four years earlier, in March 1991, I had come to the place in my walk with the Lord that I no longer wanted just to do things that I thought would be good and pleasing and acceptable to Him. I wanted to hear from Him. And so I went before the Lord with a determined prayer, “Lord, I want to be led and guided by Your Holy Spirit. I don’t want to do anything anymore until You show me…plainly, clearly, beyond the shadow of any doubt…what You have planned and purposed for me do.”
During those four years of watching and waiting, looking off unto Him and listening for His voice, I often said to the Lord, “How will I know You are showing me what I am to do; how can I be sure it is You, and not just something I am thinking or imagining? How will I know it is Your voice?” I had never before experienced this leading of the Holy Spirit that I was now asking for. I only knew that it was an intense desire, and that I consciously and deliberately refused to do anything for Him until I heard from Him. My antennas were up as I patiently waited, straining to hear His voice. Oftentimes, I wondered what He would lead me to do; I thought of a hundred things it could be, and hoped it might be this one or that one of my several special preferences.
On that Sunday morning in June 1995, as I [and two thousand other believers] was walking out of the Sanctuary of the Brooklyn Tabernacle after the morning service, I heard a brother across the way call out my name. I didn’t recognize him, but as we began to talk, he reminded me that we had met several years earlier at a men’s retreat. After a while in our conversation, he said, “I am involved in Prison Ministry.” Since my antennas were up, I immediately said to myself, “Lord…prison ministry? Well, OK…if that is what You want, I will do it. But how can I be sure this is You?” Prison ministry was not one of the things I had thought of during those past four years. It was so foreign to me, and not the least bit appealing…and I knew absolutely nothing at all about it. Even so, I told the Lord that I would be willing to do whatever He wanted; I just wanted to be sure it was Him.
I sought counsel from a brother Paul…a man of God whom I had come to know and respect, who was President of Rochester Bible Institute. He invited me to come up to the College for the weekend where we could talk, and for me to spend time alone with the Lord on their beautiful campus to inquire of Him. They were having their annual week long camp meeting at that time as well.
I booked an early flight to Rochester, and arrived Saturday late morning. After a brief meeting with brother Paul, I decided I would avoid fellowshipping with any of the many people who were there for the Camp Meeting. I just wanted to be alone with the Lord. At lunchtime, I got my tray of food in the cafeteria and picked out a table where no one else was sitting. After awhile, a brother came by with his tray, and asked if it was OK for him to sit there with me. As we engaged in a conversation, he said, “I am involved in prison ministry.” I said to myself, “Whoa, Lord; this is prison ministry…a second time!” The Lord said to me as clearly and unmistakably as two friends speaking together face to face… although in an inaudible voice, “Are you sure yet? Well just in case you’re not, I am going to show you another thing.”
I spent the remainder of the afternoon alone with the Lord on the Campus grounds. At dinner time, I again took my tray and sat at an empty table. Shortly thereafter, a brother came over with his wife and two boys, and asked if they could sit with me. As we engaged in conversation, he said, “I’m involved in prison ministry.” Again, I said to myself in utter disbelief, “Lord…that’s three times now!” The Lord again said to me clearly and unmistakably [and these are quotes!], “Are you sure yet? Well just in case you’re not, I am going to show you another thing.”
Next morning, after Sunday service and breakfast, as I left the cafeteria [this time I did sit alone], I was passing by a brother who was cleaning something on the grass when he called out, “Where are you from?” I replied, “The Brooklyn Tabernacle.” He responded, “Really? So am I!” As we engaged in conversation, he said, “I’m involved in prison ministry there.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; “Lord, the only people I have spoken to here are all involved in prison ministry!” He responded in that clear, unmistakable, yet inaudible voice, “Are you sure yet? Well just in case you’re not, I am going to show you another thing.” I met briefly again with Brother Paul before leaving for the Rochester airport, relating to him these incredible incidents involving meeting only people who were involved in prison ministry during my stay. I told him, “My only problem is…I don’t know any prison chaplains, nor even how to get in touch with them.”
Several weeks later, on a Saturday about mid-morning at my home on Long Island, the Lord startled me saying, out of the clear blue, “Go to JFK airport.” I responded, “Well…OK, I will do that.” I wondered why He wanted me, of all things, to go to the airport. I had just recently published my first book “Personal Letters From The Heart Of God,” and reasoned that maybe I was to go there just to give out some copies of the book to people the Lord would show me. As I approached the airport, not knowing where I should go, I decided to go to the main terminal. As I walked through the terminal with a bag of my books to randomly give out, I wondered whether it was permissable to do this. Just then I saw a sign pointing up an escalator that read “Chapel.” I decided to go there and ask the minister if I was allowed to give out books in the airport. There was a service taking place, so I attended, and at the end of the service I introduced myself to the minister, who invited me to come into his office. As we engaged in conversation, I began telling him about my recent incredible “call to prison ministry” experiences, lamenting that I did not know any chaplains, or even how to go about getting in touch with them. He looked at me and said, “I am the Regional Director of chaplains for the entire Northeast region!” Driving back home, I was stunned… and the Lord spoke to me again, “Are you sure yet? Well just in case you’re not, I am going to show you another thing.”
Two weeks later, on a Saturday mid-morning, I decided to drive to a hospital in downtown Brooklyn to give out some of my books to people in the waiting room. As I was approaching the Hospital, the Lord spoke in that clear, inaudible voice, “Go to Brooklyn House.” I responded, “Well…OK, I will do that.” Brooklyn House of Detention is a maximum security prison located three blocks from the Hospital. I did not know why I was to go there, but thought maybe I could get contact information for the prison chaplain and get in touch with him. There was a sprawling set of concrete steps leading up to massive doors, and I wondered if I should go on up; it seemed very intimidating. There was also a line of people at ground level waiting to get to a small window; I got on that line, thinking the person at the window could give me the contact information I needed. It was early August, the sun was beating down on us, I was hot and sweating, and the line seemed to be taking forever. I thought to myself that I should leave and go to the Hospital, and then come back here later. But the voice of the Lord said, “No; stay on line.” Finally…I got to the window, and asked the person how I could get in touch with the Chaplain. She said, “I don’t know; this is a bail window.” I walked slowly away, wondering what I am to do now. Just then, a man in a suit came out of the massive doors and was walking down the stairs. I approached him, introduced myself, and asked if he knew how I could get in touch with the Chaplain. He looked at me and said, “I am the Chaplain.” As I recounted to him the events that had taken place concerning my apparent call to prison ministry, and the fact that I knew absolutely nothing about prison ministry, he invited me to come into the prison on the following Thursday evening with a Catholic group that conducted a Bible study there every Thursday. The Lord spoke to me again, “Are you sure yet? Well just in case you’re not, I am going to show you another thing.”
The following Thursday I parked two blocks from the prison, and as I got out of my car, everything inside of me was just screaming, “What are you doing! You don’t know what you are doing! Just turn back!” I knew it was Satan, trying to stop me. I called on the Name of the Lord, and set my face like flint; looking neither to the right or the left, I just kept moving one step at a time toward the prison as the voices continued to harass me.
There were eight of us, including myself, as we entered the prison and were escorted to the chapel to wait for the inmates to be to brought in. There was a delay, so I began a conversation with a sister who was the only female in the group. I soon realized that this lady was Spirit-filled, and we were having a great conversation! When the inmates arrived, the group leader instructed us to break down into pairs and spread out in the Sanctuary. Merlyn immediately said, “Michael is coming with me!” We went to our spot and were joined by a handful of inmates, and I thought to myself, being totally unfamiliar with this setting, that I would just kind of lay back and observe what Merlyn does and learn from her. After an opening prayer, an inmate immediately looked at me and said, “What do you have to say to us?” So much for laying back and observing! I silently called on the Lord for help, and was led by the Spirit to speak out of 1 John 3:1. As I was speaking, I realized I was anointed, and commented to the Lord, “Whoa, Lord…this is not me; this is You!” As I continued speaking, I could see that Merlyn was just sitting there, contentedly watching and smiling. After our time was over and the inmates left the chapel, Merlyn’s countenance was all lit up as she said to me, “I have been asking the Lord for months to send someone like you to our ministry; you are an answer to prayer!” As I was leaving Brooklyn House to go home, the Lord started speaking for the seventh time, “Are you sure yet?” Before He could finish, I replied, “Yes Lord, I am sure!” Hallelujah!
That is how the Lord taught me to be led by the Holy Spirit, and from that time in August, 1995, forward I have consciously and deliberately lived my life that way. It is so simple a child can understand: Watch for the Lord and wait upon Him; look off unto Him and listen for His voice. He will most assuredly lead you and guide you by His Spirit…and obedience to the leading of the Spirit brings the blessings of God. Our God is faithful; I have experienced the leading of the Spirit hundreds of times since then.
I don’t know whether in the depths of your heart you really believe there is a God in Heaven or not, but this I do know…I never before had heard the voice of the Lord, and now I have heard! [Read John 9:1-38] Formerly, in years gone by, my ears had only heard of You and I had read about You, but now my eyes have seen You…with my own eyes I have seen You, and I have beheld Your glory! Therefore, in the midst of the congregation I proclaim Your great Name and Your mighty Power according to all that my eyes have seen [Job 42:5; Ps 63:2; 22:22; Heb 2:12].